Monday, May 15, 2017

Josef "Seppl" Veltjens

Veltjens was born in Geldern, Rhineland, Imperial Germany. August 1914, at the age of 20 he enlisted in the Kaiserin Augusta Guards Regiment. Four days later, he and his regiment were at the front. He rapidly rose to the rank of Vizefeldwebel (literally vice-sergeant). After several requests, toward the end of 1915, he transferred to the German Air Force and was assigned to Flieger Abteilung 23 in May 1916. His skills as a reconnaissance pilot were quickly recognized and by March 1917, he was flying single-seat fighters with Jasta 14 and scored his first five victories.

Veltjens was re-assigned to Jasta 18 in August of 1917. Here he scored his ninth victory in November to close out 1917. He marked up his tenth victory in February, 1918.

Veltjens' aircraft were often easily identified by a barbed arrow painted on the fuselage.

The following month, Commander Rudolf Berthold of Jasta 18, transferred to Jasta 15.
It became an interesting swap, in which Berthold took his pilots with him when he transferred; Jasta 15's pilots in turn became Jasta 18. The exchange meant Berthold, Veltjens, and the rest of the pilots would be re-equipped with the new Fokker D.VII.
In May, 1918, Veltjens would temporarily assume command of Jasta 15, when Berthold was wounded and again in August 1918, serving as its commanding officer until the end of the war.

He ended the war with 35 victories. He was awarded Pour le Mérite, the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern, and the Iron Cross.

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