I have always regarded you as a peacemaker and am therefore surprised at your attack on the Commander of the 94th Squadron.
I would be glad if you would enlighten me further as to the cause of your wrath as I am no expert on America’s valuable contribution to the air war.
The reasons you give seem to be:
1. His claim of 26 victories should have only been 8. Did the Americans also go for the O.O.C. utilised by the British?
2. He had not written his autobiography it was ghost written by Driggs. Does this matter? I understand Bishop’s ‘Winged Warfare’ was similarly achieved.
3. Assertions have been made on this web site that the Medal of Honour in 1930 was actively campaigned for by Rickenbacker. Perhaps he thought he was worth it. Should false modesty have held him back?
I thought the book (Fighting the Flying Circus) was well written but then Driggs was a professional. Are you suggesting he was conned by Rickenbacker or advocating the conspiracy theory, when you say it was tripe? I did not get this impression.
Rickenbacker does pay tribute to others. Page 180 “Later Frank Luke
, who in my opinion was the greatest fighting pilot in the war, passed me when he shot down in flames 13 balloons in six days! A record that has never been equalled by any other pilot.” I do concede however, that he, (Rickenbacker) wanted to be the best.
If scores are the biggest worry he is not alone in being criticised, viz:
Bishop, whose score in the three weeks in command of 85 Squadron raised many eyebrows?
Mannock’s 73 and he never said it was, is now shown as 61.
McCudden who only managed 9 as a patrol leader had fewer than Rhys Davids so he took to assassination by high level stalking in order to supplement his score.
Richtofen who according to Ira Jones
preferred BE2C’s and climbed above the fray looking for stragglers. He even had cups made to celebrate his murders. How barbaric? He also took victories from his fellows.
I hasten to add that I don’t necessarily believe any of the foregoing but all these things have been said on this website.
I will finish with a quote from page 233: “It was the first machine that I had brought down behind our lines-or assisted to bring down, for Reed Chambers
shared this victory with me-in such condition we were able to fly it again.” You could argue here that Chambers should have not shared as he brought it down but Rickenbacker had killed the observer and then his guns jammed.
I have no axe to grind in this matter and would be interested if the men serving with him had expressed doubts, as in the case of Bishop.
I look forward to hearing your always erudite comments.