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8 Jan 1916

17/01/2016

Here is Bunnie’s lengthy logbook entry. Once again he was in Voisin 8502.

Spotting for H.M.S. Earl of Peterboro. Observer Burnaby. Had two oiled plugs ???? s left late, 1430 for 1500 spot. Slight south wind blowing and machine did not climb over well. Started spotting at 5500 and went over land at under 6000 ft. Archied a good deal, but nothing very close. Machine climbed to 7500 ft and then stuck engine revs at that height 1340, much more than usual (usual being 1300). Throttled down a bit, and then opened to 1325, machine went slowly up to 8300 and appeared to have about reached her limit. Finished spotting just before 1630 when Burnaby asked me to go over land well to north of Krithia (about square 29) as he had noticed something he wished to investigate. Was returning shortly after 130 but was still over land when was attacked by Hun who came up unobserved behind and slightly above me. Did not know he was there till he started firing, and even then did not realise at once what it was. As soon as I did realise I attempted to turn left, so as to bring my Lewis to bear on him and just caught a glimpse of him over my left shoulder. He then disappeared behind me and again fired a few rounds, and apparently made a big right handed sweep and made off in the direction of Chanak. He was too fast and nippy for me to bring my gun to bear on him, and the whole thing only lasted about 30 secs. I attempted to follow him, but I then discovered that my engine revs had dropped to 1200 so I realised that he had hit me. I was then just about 8000 ft. I attempted to reach Imbros, but engine revs were dropping very rapidly and I saw that would be impossible. I throttled right down and made for Helles Aerodrome. I had never landed there before (but Burnaby had) so I glided till I knew I was well within reach, and then came down in S turns. I happened to have selected a good spot and made a perfect landing. Machine was pushed to dugout, but would not go right in, and Turks began to shell it with H.E. but could not hit it. Searched for demolition party but could not find them and was not allowed to burn machine so returned and smashed it as well as possible with a pick, a shovel and a sledge hammer. Embarked in lighter at 1830 from pier at W beach and left at 0130. Intermittent shelling with H.E. most of the time. Went on board S.S. Partridge (2nd last ship to leave) and proceeded to Mudros, and came back to Imbros in store ship S.S. Junia?, finally landing about 1500 on Jun 10th.

Voisin on Dardanelles emergency airstrip at Helles

Voisin on Dardanelles emergency airstrip at Helles

And here, amazingly, is a picture of Bunnie’s Voisin 8502 on the emergency strip at Helles that was presumably taken before he got going with the pickaxe.

It’s not clear from the logbook but today was the date of the final evacuation of all allied troops from Gallipoli. Back in Ovtober, when the Government had originally suggested it, the commander, Sir Ian Hamilton, had suggested that they might experience 50% casualties, but in the end it was achieved with a total casualty list of only 3! As we’ve said before, this was due to the total secrecy with which it was carried out, and Bunnie’s unexpected arrival at Helles with Midshipman Burnaby must have been seen as something of a risk, which is why he wasn’t allowed to set fire to 8502.

At the bottom of the picture you can see the shellholes from the Turkish 6in shells that Bunnie had to dodge as they landed.

One other story that doesn’t appear in his logbook account is that when it became apparent that there was no way of turning the Voisin quickly enough to return the German’s fire, Burnaby took the Lewis gun off its mount and rested it on the top wing and tried to get a  bead on him that way!

Bunnie always reckoned he’d been shot down by Hauptmann Hans-Joachim Buddeke, who later became a German ace, flying on the Western Front. But during my visit to Greece, Paschalis Palavouzis showed me he was wrong. Paschalis’ astonishing head for detail is shown in his email which I’ve copied below.

At that time (25th of March 1916), the Ottoman Luftstreitkräfte had a dedicated fighter unit known as the “Fokker Staffel” (or sometimes referred to as “the Buddecke Staffel”) operating from an aerodrome near Chanak. In January 1916, the unit was redesignated as OttomanFliegerabteilung 6 (6 nci Tayyare Boluk in Turkish). It operated with two Fokker E.III with German Army serial numbers 108/15 (Werk Number 361, Turkish service number “F 2”) and 96/15 (WN 349, “F 3”) and one Fokker E.II with German Army s/n 93/15 (WN346, “F 4”). Possibly the unit had also received a Fokker E.I s/n 36/15 (WN 286, “F 1”), previously (since late September 1915) serving with Ottoman Fliegerabteilung 1 from Galata aerodrome. According to Ltn Emil Meinecke who joined the unit in April 1916, there were three fighter pilots flying with FA 6: Hauptman Hans-Joachim Buddecke, Oberleutnant Theo Croneiss and himself. Interestingly, according to his words, he was to relieve the Staffel Commander (Obrltn Theo Croneiss) as he was on leave to Germany whereas Buddecke was also being transferred to the Western Front. So, soon he remained the only Fokker pilot flying in the area. In late March though – when your Grandad had his air fight with a Fokker – possibly there were only two fighter pilots with FA 6, namely Buddecke and Theo Croneiss. To keep records straight there were two more German pilots flying with the Fokker Staffel during the ending phase of the Gallipoli Campaign (i.e. late December – early January), namely Ltn Hans Schuz and Ltn Erich Mudra (sometimes reported as Muhra). All of them were credited with aerial victories during the evacuation of the Gallipoli and more specifically Buddecke with 4, Croneiss with 2, Schuz with 2 and Mudra with 1. According to some reports (also cross checked with Buddecke’s kill list) your Grandad together with (observer) Midshipman H.E. Burnaby were forced to land on Cape Helles aerodrome in their Voisin LA.S. ‘8502’ after being shot by Theodor Jakob Croneiss and not Buddecke. 

We never stop learning!

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