Lt. George J Hatch Biography-2: Killed In Action

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Lt. Hatch Shot Down by German Ace Wilhem Frankl

 

April 6, 1917:  Lt. Hatch and his observer, Corporal Ernest Langridge, were flying unarmed reconnaissance over the German lines near Arras, France in their Royal Aircraft Factory BE2e biplane (Serial #A2879) on the morning of April 6, 1917.

 

“The B.E.2 was originally designed without any provision for armament. While some crews flew entirely unarmed, or perhaps carried service revolvers or automatic pistols, others armed themselves with hand-wielded rifles…this weaponry proved to be of questionable effectiveness. In practice, the pilot of a B.E.2 almost always operated the camera, and the observer, when he was armed at all, had a rather poor field of fire to the rear, having, at best, to shoot back over his pilot's head.”

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Lt. Wilhelm Frankl, commander of Jasta 4  (“Hunting Squadron”), had already shot down three British aircraft with his Albatros fighter plane during the early morning hours of  Friday, April 6, 1917. “At 09:30 Frankl was airborne again, this time to intercept a reconnaissance  plane from 8 Sqn RFC. After 25 minutes’ chase the British aircraft falls to the ground north-east of Boiry. The crew – Lt. G. J. Hatch and Cpl. E. Landridge – do not survive. It is the fourth victory scored on this day by Lt. Frankl…” (from Kaiser's Aces by Marek J. Murawski)

 

Lt. Frankl, son of a Jewish merchant, was one of Germany’s most honored Aces, with 20 confirmed kills. In 1916, he becomes the first and sole German pilot of Jewish descent to be awarded the Pour le Mérite. Ironically, he was shot down and killed just two days later on Easter Sunday 1917.  "He was buried with due military honors at the Berlin-Charlottenburg cemetery… In the thirties, after the Nazi party gained power, Frankl’s name disappeared from the official lists of medal holders.

A video featuring the German Albatros plane (as flown by Lt. Frankl)