Sunday, December 30, 2012

Lewis Gunner shoots down German plane, 1918

Scrolling through the War Unit Diary of the 57th Infantry Battalion for May 1918, this very interesting illustrated front page came to light.  The picture would seem to illustrate an incident on the night of 16th May when a German aeroplane, of the Gotha type, was returning across their lines in the Aubigny sector after dropping bombs on the back area.  The plane was flying low and only its outline could be seen against the moon.  Lance Corporal 3914 W Patten  of B Coy brought his Lewis gun into action.  Lt H J Dickinson, who was observing, said that Patten's tracer bullets could be plainly seen striking the aeroplane, and it was forced to land, about 700 yards in front of the B Coy sector.  Lt Dickinson immediately set off to take charge of the plane, but when he got there found it already in charge of some 4th Division men.  One German officer was arrested, but two other occupants had escaped.

UPDATE:  L/Cpl Patten was awarded a Military Medal for his courage and initiative in bringing down this plane, and also assisting another section being attacked on a bridge.

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