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Claims Documentation
Claims Documentation
Frank Olynyk
Published by Frank_Olynyk
30 December 1998
Page 4

A little break for a note on German claims. First, both the Nachrichtenblatt, and the Wochenbericht normally indicate js or ds for each claim; js = jenseit = their side, ds = diesseit = our side (of the lines). A ds claim means that wreckage, or the pilot, or both were available to the Germans. This is pretty substantial evidence for a victory (although I have heard of one shootdown of a DH bomber, at high altitude, which disintegrated while falling to earth, and ended up in three widely separated piles, which actually produced three victory credits – this is a most unusual occurrence). A js claim means that a forward observer (artillery or balloon) saw the aircraft crash, and be destroyed. If the aircraft force landed, almost undamaged, behind the lines, so that it could be repaired and continue in service, it would only be credited as zLg (zur Landung gezwungen), and this was part of a pilot’s total score, but never given a victory number. If it force landed behind German lines, it was considered a victory for the pilot. After claiming a victory, a pilot would prepare a combat report, which would go to the CO of his Jasta. From there up the chain of command, being approved or denied at each level, until finally to Berlin. If approved, a document crediting the pilot with a victory, on the given day, of the type claimed, and also indicating the victory number for the pilot and the Jasta, would work its way back down to the unit. Claims could be disputed (strittig), and this would be hashed out at the appropriate level, usually within the Armee. They seem frequently to go to the biggest Kannone, but not always. The final two victories of Udet, which appear in both the Boddenschatz and Udet books were actually awarded to another unit; they do not appear to have been awarded to him (which makes his score 60). Disputed victories which cannot be settled are awarded to the unit, not to an individual; if two different units are involved, credit goes to the unit controlling them. Victories are never shared between pilots, one victory, one credit, is the rule in the Jastas. Multi-seat aircraft however are different, since each crewman received one credit for each victory. Starting with the 60th victory of Manfred v Richthofen, his combat reports give the aircraft type, serial, and paint job. The 1918 combat reports I have seen, or have seen referenced, all have this information. Göring’s early combat reports (1915-1916) have serial numbers.

What constitutes an official German victory credit? Any claim in the Nachrichtenblatt is accepted, as well as claims in the Wochenbericht which fill in holes in the Nachrichtenblatt (remember that the Nachrichtenblatt listed the victory number of the pilot). For the period of 1914-1916 we frequently have to rely on wartime, and postwar biographies; these are frequenly very useful for early recipients of the Pour le Merite. Some wartime newspapers are useful, but especially in the 1914-1915 period they frequently do not give names, just an announcement from headquarters that a German pilot had shot down an enemy aircraft.

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