Tone ‘kill 4’ & crash 30 September 1917

Tone was shot down and two of his patrol were killed in action. Tone took off at 10.00 in Sopwith Pup B2168 leading a patrol comprising 2/Lt Joseph G Warter in B2185; James W Boumphrey in B1768; Howard K Boyson in B2176; Ralph Erskine in B3189; Lamcelot May in B2221 & Walbanke A Pritt in B2162. The patrol was engaged by 15 enemy aircraft [1] from above near the Menin-Roulers road, one of the enemy aircraft. positioned behind Bayetto, but he was able to evade the attack, he then closed on another enemy aircraft who was on the tail of one of the patrol Pups, Bayetto was unable to fire on this enemy aircraft and it shot down the Pup in flames this was either Warter who was killed in the action or Pritt who crashed near the lines. Tone then saw another Pup with two e.a. on its tail; diving towards the group he closed to within 30 feet and fired on the enemy. He watched the tracer entering the fuselage just behind the pilot, who looked over and saw Bayetto and then slumped over the side of the cockpit. The e.a. machine started to descend & signs of smoke were observed. Tone levelled out at 8000 feet, hearing machine guns He looked around to find another e.a. diving on him. Tone performed an ‘Immellman’ [see picture] getting behind the enemy aircraft  he fired a short burst into the machine; the propeller was seen to stop and the e.a. started to make for the east. At the same time a two seater opened fire on Toné from underneath the Pup shooting away one of his cylinders and tearing away his cowling, piercing his petrol tank and shooting two blades off his propeller. He was then attacked by another Albatross Who shot him up his left rear spar which resulted in the spar and several wing ribs breaking. In one of his accounts of the action Tone says that the patrol was attacked by 26 enemy machines; that he was shot about and flew the aeroplane upside down and attempted to right the craft shortly before landing. In another account he pancaked the machine from 20 feet in amongst shell holes and as he crashed, Tone’s face hit the windscreen and Lewis gun butt; the fuselage compressed the cockpit; the undercarriage collapsed and the machine turned over on its nose. It took about 20 minutes for him to be rescued. He sustained impact wounds to his face and back. He bled from his ears nose and mouth. He was unconscious for a while and was later found to be suffering from a fractured base of skull. He was sent back down the lines and admitted to No.7 General Hospital, St Omer.  B2168 was salvaged and sent to 1 Aircraft Depot for repair. [66FS bio]

[1] The patrol was engaged by Jasta 18 who claimed three: Toné plus 2Lt J.C. Warter and Lt J.W. Bumphrey who were both reported KIA. [CROSS & COCKADE INT.1995;26(4):191-196]

“A patrol of 66 squadron were pursuing a hostile two-seater when they were dived upon by an EA formation. The pilots, though at a disadvantage, fought well and one EA was destroyed by Captain Bayetto, while another was driven out of control by Lt W A Pritt. Two of our machines were lost on the other side and two were forced to land on our side, while other machines were much shot about, one coming back with a cylinder completely shattered.”

Royal Flying Corps Communiques 1917 1918
Max Immelmann (1890-1916) was the first German air ace of the First World War. His death in June 1916 caused such shock that another German air ace, Oswald Boelcke, was temporarily grounded for fear of the effect successive pilots’ deaths would have on home morale. Immelmann developed an aerial loop-and-roll manoeuvre that allowed pilots to dive behind a pursuing fighter. This became a standard technique throughout the war and is still known as the ‘Immelmann Turn’.