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Other WWI Aviation Airfields, equipment, tactics, uniforms and all other WWI aviation topics

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Old 30 May 2010, 04:01 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Pour Le Merite Curiosities

As well known as the medal is I hadn't realised, until just recently, that the 'unofficial label' of "The Blue Max" was coined following the award of such to Max Immelmann - he being the first airman to receive the Pour le Mérite .

Was Max also the first German military man during WWI to receive the Pour le Mérite ? And I wonder what phrase would have been invented if Oswald Boelcke had been the first recipient?

I was also under the impression that the Pour le Mérite was Germany's highest award for valour (excluding awards of royal note). Yet I find that there was a higher level of the Pour le Mérite, that being the Pour le Mérite with Oak Leaves.

Admittedly the strict criteria for award of the Oak leaves called for the capture or successful defense of a fortification, or victory in a battle. Still, Manfred von Richthofen was certainly deserving of such.
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Old 30 May 2010, 06:15 PM   #2 (permalink)
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first award of the PLM of a junior officer

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Originally Posted by Pips View Post
Was Max also the first German military man during WWI to receive the Pour le Mérite ?
Hello Pips,

The first award of a Pour le Mérite of a junior officer in WWI was given for a single audacious act. It went to Leutnant Otto von der Linde*, a platoon leader in the 5th Guards Regiment. On August 24, 1914 he and a few of his troops brazenly approached Fort Malonne at Namur, Belgium and standing before the fort's walls von der Linde demanded it's immediate surrender. If this were not forthcoming, he threatened, the Germans were prepared to destroy the fort with a massive artillery barrage which was totally a figment of the young officer´s imagination. The commander capitulated, the fort surrendered and while most of the garrison escaped, a number of prisoners and, more importantly, a large amount of arms and ammunition were taken. A potentially formidable abstacle to the German advance had been removed by a bluff. Von der Linde´s award was announced on September 18, 1914. Even here, however, there was a strong basis of the award beyond just his personal bravery. The statutes of the order said it could be given for successfully capturing (or defending) a fortress....

from: Aviation Awards of Imperial Germany in World War I Vol. II, by Neal W. O'Connor

*There is also a foto card like Sanke of him.

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Old 31 May 2010, 02:13 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pips View Post
As well known as the medal is I hadn't realised, until just recently, that the 'unofficial label' of "The Blue Max" was coined following the award of such to Max Immelmann - he being the first airman to receive the Pour le Mérite .

Was Max also the first German military man during WWI to receive the Pour le Mérite ? And I wonder what phrase would have been invented if Oswald Boelcke had been the first recipient?

I was also under the impression that the Pour le Mérite was Germany's highest award for valour (excluding awards of royal note). Yet I find that there was a higher level of the Pour le Mérite, that being the Pour le Mérite with Oak Leaves.

Admittedly the strict criteria for award of the Oak leaves called for the capture or successful defense of a fortification, or victory in a battle. Still, Manfred von Richthofen was certainly deserving of such.
There were several "Grades" of the Knight's Cross in WW2, indicating something similar I suppose to the Allied "Bar" or second award of the medal. The Knights Cross was supplanted by the Oak Leaves, then the Knights Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords, then the Knights Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds (Eichenlaub mit Schwertern und Brillanten zum Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuz). There were 9 Luftwaffe pilots awarded "The Diamonds" in WW2, with only 27 awarded throughout all the German services. Further acts of gallantry by some amazing warriors had to be progressively acknowledged.

Hans Ulrich Rudel was supposedly the highest decorated combatant of the German forces in WW2. He was the only recipient of the Knight's Cross with GOLDEN Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds. Perhaps Goerring (who adored his uniforms and decorations) awarded himself a higher medal (the Grand Cross of the Knight's Cross), but he could not be classed as a combatant.

As far as Rudel goes...the most highly decorated soldier of German Forces in WW2 had, at war's end...
"519 Soviet tanks (17 of them in a single day) and among others, one battleship, one cruiser, one destroyer, 70 landing craft, 9 attested aircraft, hundreds of motor vehicles, numerous artillery, anti-tank and anti-aircraft positions, as well as armoured convoys and bridges. Twelve comrades - six Stuka crews - were saved by him from capture or death. When he tried to rescue another crash-landed crew in 1944, he was taken prisoner, fled with a bullet in his shoulder, covering 50 km through Soviet hinterlands, and reached his lines. Shot down more than thirty times by ground fire - never once by a fighter plane - wounded 5 times, the fervent sportsman took a direct anti-aircraft hit and lost his right leg. Just six weeks later, despite being forbidden to, the stump of his leg still bleeding (he flew with a four x two taped to his stump so he could operate the rudder) he was back in combat."

"Rudel takes the place of an entire division" Field Marshal Ferdinand Schorner.
"What a shame he wasn't wearing our uniform" Pierre Clostermann.

After the war, and with an artificial leg, Rudel became the first man to scale the peak of the 6920 meter Llulay-Yacu in the Andes, the world's highest volcano.

(That's just from the fly leaf of his biography by Gunther Just).

Shooting down ANY aircraft in a Stuka is an amazing feat. The Stuka was slow and cumbersome, ideal for ground attack, but he shot down at least nine aircraft. A two-seater, he landed his craft behind enemy lines and picked up a downed Stuka crew (seating FOUR in his aircraft...with the second crew sitting on his lap, and that of his rear gunner). An amazing feat, he did this SIX TIMES and was shot down attempting it for the seventh time.

Rudel flew 2,530 combat missions.

A truly remarkable man. Unbelievable.
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Old 31 May 2010, 04:25 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Actually, BOTH Immelmann and Boelcke received the PlM on Jan 12 1916 after each achieved his 8th victory on that day whilst seerving with FFA62.
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Old 31 May 2010, 05:50 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Actually, BOTH Immelmann and Boelcke received the PlM on Jan 12 1916 after each achieved his 8th victory on that day whilst seerving with FFA62.
Yea...but "the Blue Oswald" doesn't have that certain "ring" to it, does it?
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Old 31 May 2010, 06:07 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Hi,

Actually, the idea that the "Blue Max" nickname came from Immelmann's Christian name has never been proven and is apocryphal. I've never seen any proof of this, and it seems like an all-too-easy, convenient explanation. After all, the Order had been around for quite a while before WWI, and Immelmann was certainly not the first German officer to receive the award in WWI. As stated, Otto von der Linde received the first awarded to a junior officer in WWI (and, said Neal O'Connor, the "fifth that was awarded up to that time" ) on Sept. 18, 1914. U-boat commander Otto Weddigen got his on 24 October 1914.

Neal O'Connor - the expert on German medals and orders - wrote (in his volume 2, on aviation awards of Prussia): "...the sobriquet 'The Blue Max,' was popularized in the book and movie of the same name. Just when and how this term for the award came into use has not been established with certainty. This has led to much speculation on the matter. What is known is that the nickname was in use during WW I. It appears in the writings of two Pour le Mérite recipients, Hans-Joachim von Buddecke and Adolf Ritter von Tutschek. It also crops up in a book covering the operational history of Jagdgeschwader Nr. 2 (by Hanns Moeller). The entry reads: "Sept. 18 (1918) was once again a special day for Ltn. Buechner who succeeded for the second time in downing three enemies in a day, thereby gaining his 30th, 31st and 32nd victories. And still the "Blue Max" did not come!"...Another nickname for the order has been discovered by the historian, researcher and author, A. E. Ferko. In a letter written in 1960, Friedrich-Karl Burckhardt, the former commanding officer of Jasta 25 and himself a 5-victory ace, stated that one of his men, Bodo Freiherr von Lyncker, coined the term "The Blue Bird" for it. Burckhardt added that he thought then that it was a very appropriate name. But apparently it never caught on."

If I recall correctly, in a later book (I cannot locate the entry right now), Neal voiced the possibility that the term "Max" came into use for the blue medal because it was often used in German phraseology for anything which was the biggest or best (i.e., the maximum). However, don't quote me on that!!
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Old 31 May 2010, 06:34 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Mention of the 'BLUE MAX' film reminds me of my oft repeated question, which remains un - answered..

Why were the medal replicas in the film silver and Blue?

Still puzzled----the image at the beginning (credits) shows correctly gilt and blue---but from then on they are shown as silver/blue...

Cheers,
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Old 3 June 2010, 09:09 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bristol scout View Post
Mention of the 'BLUE MAX' film reminds me of my oft repeated question, which remains un - answered..

Why were the medal replicas in the film silver and Blue?

Still puzzled----the image at the beginning (credits) shows correctly gilt and blue---but from then on they are shown as silver/blue...

Cheers,
Dave.
Probably just cheaper to make! lol
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Old 3 June 2010, 09:13 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevedrew View Post
There were several "Grades" of the Knight's Cross in WW2, indicating something similar I suppose to the Allied "Bar" or second award of the medal. The Knights Cross was supplanted by the Oak Leaves, then the Knights Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords, then the Knights Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds (Eichenlaub mit Schwertern und Brillanten zum Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuz). There were 9 Luftwaffe pilots awarded "The Diamonds" in WW2, with only 27 awarded throughout all the German services. Further acts of gallantry by some amazing warriors had to be progressively acknowledged.

Hans Ulrich Rudel was supposedly the highest decorated combatant of the German forces in WW2. He was the only recipient of the Knight's Cross with GOLDEN Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds.

HEAVY SNIPPING****************

Rudel flew 2,530 combat missions.

A truly remarkable man. Unbelievable.
Thanks so much for that Steve! Facinating stuff. You just have to admire people like Rudel & Bader for their extreme bravery.

I have a model of Rudel's Stuka in my small collection of WW2 1/72nd models but I still like my Corgi 1/48 WW1 models best. Just hope they eventually make a Sopwith Triplane. I "lust" after that one.
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Old 4 June 2010, 07:17 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave
Mention of the 'BLUE MAX' film reminds me of my oft repeated question, which remains un - answered..
The Blue Max production budget was $6 million...in '66 gold was at $35/oz. Maybe the jeweler screwed up.

[nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Efc6Y6LCuuc"]YouTube- THE BLUE MAX(1965) Original Theatrical Trailer[/nomedia]


serious narrator voice: "...his great obsession: the Blue Max! An ounce of metal and silver."



Sounds contrived, redundant...and cheap!

Cheers
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