Sunday 23 September 1917 We Lost 791
Lieutenant Werner Voss, the fearless twenty-year-old leader of Jasta 10 and the closest rival to the “Red Baron”, Manfred von Richthofen, downs a de Haviland DH4 for his 48th victory. The pilot Second Lieutenant Samuel Leslie John Bramley (Royal Flying Corps) and his observer Second Lieutenant John Matthew de Lacey are both killed. This evening Voss goes up again alone for one more patrol in his new Fokker tri-plane and attacks a flight of SE-5s of 60th Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, led by Major James T B McCudden. In the melee that follows, Voss fights seven of the best fighter pilots in the Royal Flying Corps – McCudden, Geoffrey H Bowman, Reginald T C Hoidge, Richard A Maybery, Arthur P F Rhys Davids, Keith K Muspratt and Victor P Cronyn.
At least two German Albatros DVs join the fight, but Voss dominates the show, dazzling his opponents with seemingly impossible maneuvers. Finally, after a spectacular ten-minute dogfight, Rhys Davids’ bullets strike home and Voss crashes and is killed behind British lines. An Albatros DV tries to help Voss but is also shot down by Rhys Davids, although its pilot survives. Congratulated on his victory this evening, Rhys Davids appears genuinely upset when he replies “Oh, if only I could have brought him down alive.”
Flight Commander Stearne Tighe Edwards (Royal Naval Air Service) attacks an Albatros scout, which crashes into the sea. Later he attacks three Albatros scouts. One gets on the tail of another officer’s machine at very close range, shooting him up very badly. Commander Edwards attacks him from above, and the enemy machine turns on its back and goes down in a vertical dive. He follows the enemy machine down to 8,000 feet, when its wings come off and it falls to the ground.
The steamer S S St Dunstan is sunk by a mine with the loss of two lives while S S Lena (Master Robert Logan Mitchinson) is killed when his ship is sunk southwest of the Scillies by U-61 killing the entire crew of twenty-five.
Today’s losses include:
- The last victims of Werner Voss
- Multiple sons of members of the clergy
- Multiple families that will lose two sons in the Great War
- A family that will lose four sons
- The son of a Justice of the Peace
- The Assistant Master of Llandovery College
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Captain Philip Pipon Braitwaite (Jacob’s Horse) is killed in Palestine at age 38. He is the son of the Reverend Philip Richard Pipon Braitwaite Canon of Winchester.
- Captain A R Backus MC (Rifle Brigade) is killed at age 23. His brother will die on service in German in December 1919.
- Captain Thomas Mitchell Hoffe (Cape Corps South African Forces) dies on service in East Africa at age 36. He is the son of the Reverend John Hoffe Rector of Kilbride.
- Lieutenant Percival St George Charles Westby (Royal Field Artillery) is killed by a shell when changing positions on the Cambridge Road east of Ypres age 28. He is the eldest son of Francis Vandeleur Westby JP DL. He studied for the Diplomatic Service in France and Germany. Lieutenant Westby joined the Royal Field Artillery in November 1914 and was appointed temporary Captain in July 1915 and permanent Lieutenant in June 1916. He accompanied the 59th Division to France in March 1917 and was constantly in action with his battery, which on several occasions he commanded.
- Lieutenant George Douglas Gordon Stuart (Royal Field Artillery) is killed in action at age 21. His brother will be killed in March of next year.
- The Assistant Master at Llandovery College, Second Lieutenant Claud Bruce Matheson (Rifle Brigade) is killed in action at age 25. He is the son Reverend John Matheson.
- Lance Corporal Malcolm McDonald (Gordon Highlanders) is killed in action. He is the last of four brothers who will lose their lives in the Great War.
- Lance Corporal Edgar Gentle (Rifle Brigade) is killed at age 31. His brother was killed in April of this year.
- Private Louis Wilfred Baylis (Worcetershire Regiment) dies of wounds at age 27. His brother was killed last May.
- Private Frank Harry Battams (Warwickshire Regiment) dies of wounds at age 19. His brother was killed in May 1917.