Monday, February 20, 2017

Friedrich Ritter von Röth

Röth, like many WWl pilots, started military service on the ground. He served originally in an artillery regiment where he was seriously wounded early in the war. Once fit for duty, he transferred to the aerial service and was commissioned, in May 1915. Again Roth was severely injured in a crash during training and due to his extended recuperation, he did not win his wings until early 1917. 
His initial assignment was to a Bavarian artillery spotting unit. 
At some point, he served in Jasta 34, but did not score any victories until being assigned to Jasta 23.

Of his own admission Roth was a poor shot and it would not be until January of 1918 that he scored his first three victories. On that day, he shot down 3 enemy balloons in less than ten minutes. Convinced he had found his niche he concentrated upon balloon busting.
His decision meant he took upon himself one of the most hazardous duties of WWI fighter aviation. Balloons flew at a known altitude, antiaircraft guns ringing them were extremely accurate. The balloons were low enough that an attacker was exposed to small arms fire as well. Protective fighters also lurked in the vicinity. The balloons were so well defended as they were an important part of the artillery fire direction.

Roth finished the war at Jasta 16 and had established a reputation as a modest idealist, pious and courageous. September 1918 he was awarded with Germany's highest decoration for valor, the Pour le Mérite, the “Blue Max”.

By the end of the war, he was Germany's highest scoring balloon-buster. Of his 28 confirmed victories, 20 of them were balloons.

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