100 years ago air fighting went to new level...
A raid on ammunition dump at Vraucourt north-east of Bapaume, made by twelve bombers with fourteen escorting machines, was attacked by thirty or more airplanes. and led to the biggest air fight which the war has yet seen. Some of the enemy pilots attacked soon after the lines were crossed, but most of the eighty 20lb bombs carried by aeroplanes of Nos. 12 and 13 Squadrons were dropped on their objective. As Vraucourt was neared the German attacks were intensified, some fighters getting inside our formation, and over the village itself the fighting became general. The escorting aeroplanes were supplied by Nos. 11, 60 and 29 Squadrons.
The first casualty was suffered by No.60 Squadron soon after the lines were crossed. Lieutenant A D Bell-Irving, in last of three flights, was wounded in the leg and had his very lights set on fire and his engine and petrol tank hit, but was able to land near the trenches, where his aeroplane was wrecked. Meanwhile, the reminder of the escorting machines were fighting hard to protect the bombers, but two of these, both from No.12 squadron, were shot down, and pilot of another was wounded but got home. Two of the escorts, both D.H.2s of No.29 squadron, were fought down by several enemy fighters, and were last seen keeping up the flight close to the ground. Lastly, one of the FEs of No.11 Squadron, with dead observer and a wounded pilot, crashed into no-mans land where the pilot escaped into front-line trenches.
Jasta 2 pilots claimed six British planes in that day, some of them in this fight; couple of B.E.2s from No.12 Squadron by von Richthofen and Kirmaier, couple of Nieuport 17s from No.60 squadron by Otto Hohne and new guy, Lt. H Wortmann, D.H.2 from No.29 by Hans Immelmann and FE8 by Bohme. FE8 was less known pusher fighter serving alongside D.H.2 (and supposedly, the last pusher scout to be withdrawn from service).
Two more things of interest that happened between Boelckes' death and 9th November were, Stefan Kirmaier becoming new leader of Jasta 2 and Karl Bodenschatz becoming its adjutant.
Bodenschatz went to history as *the* German aviation adjutant. A school friend of Boelcke IIRC, he was supposed to become his adjutant in Jasta 2, and arrived on day of Boelckes death - his first duty was to escort the body for burial. Instead of Boelcke, he become adjutant to succession of Jasta 2 leaders, starting with Kirmaier. Then, when JG1 was formed, Manfred von Richthofen got Bodenschatz transferred out of Jasta 2 into his new command. He was serving under Richthoffen there until his death, then stayed under Wilhelm Reinhard, ending the war as adjutant of last JG1 leader, Hermann Goering. When Goering became head of Luftwaffe in 1930s, he reactivated Bodenschatz as his liason to Adolf Hitler. Bedenschatz spent WW2 in this position, and ended his career testifying as witness in Nurenberg.
Bodenschatz was never a pilot; as adjutant his duties were running and supplying the unit on the ground. In JG1, due to supply shortages Germans suffered, he was scouring the countryside armed with Richthoffens photographs, each signed "To my dear comrade in arms" by MvR himself - he traded these with German supply officers to provide JG1 pilots with quality food and drink. After Kirmaiers death, Bodenshatz become acting leader of Jasta 2 as most senior officer even though he was no pilot. I've always found his diminishing procession of commanders - from almost-Boelcke through Richthoffen to Goering - somewhat symbolic of wider German downfall.
His short book, "Hunt under Flanders sky" (don't remember English title, alas), gives a good, slightly outside view of lives of German pilots. Bodenschatz did not participate in air combat, but instead spent lot of time with pilots and was responsible for their well being and accomodation, and for state and maintenance of planes. He had no reasons for self-aggrandizing and gives not first hand accounts of half-remembered fights; instead we have pretty solid descriptions of pilots lives while on the ground, and their reactions to fights they just had from detached but close observant.
Kirmaier spent barely two months in Jasta 2, one month as its leader. By the time he joined his score stood on 3 and best of Boelckes cubs, Manfred von Richthofen, was at 5. By the time of his death his score was at 11 while MvR brought his up to 8. Whether it makes Kirmaier better pilot and MvR more lucky one, or whether MvR was just better at self preservation, is of course debatable. It's worth noticing that in fight 100 years ago MvR and Kirmaier both went for BE2 bombers (which were not only less likely to put up a fight, but also more important targets), while other pilots downed fighters.