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Olham

Jasta 12 at Roucourt castle

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This well known photo of Jasta 12 at Roucourt was taken from "Das Kriegstagebuch der Jasta 12"

(Michael Schmeelke). It made me curious about the place, and I zoomed into Google maps, untill

I had Roucourt castle. In the book it says, that the airfield lay left of the wood we see north of

the castle. So I painted 18 Albatros shapes into the pic, plus the larger craft behind them.

The orange line would be the line drawn from the photographer (who might have climbed a tree)

to the last tree of the alleyway. The lightgreen area are young trees, which I assumed not to

have been there in those days.

Of course it's only circa, as I didn't have the right size relationship of the aircraft.

 

The maps shows Roucourt field location (red dart) and two other villages, where Jastas had been.

 

I find it touching somehow, that so little seems to have changed. It's the same with Toulis, where

Jasta 12 had also been. The village looks almost the same today, and the field is still there.

I think, I'll travel there by train and bicycle next spring or summer, to visit some former fields.

Edited by Olham

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This well known photo of Jasta 12 at Roucourt was taken from "Das Kriegstagebuch der Jasta 12"

(Michael Schmeelke). It made me curious about the place, and I zoomed into Google maps, untill

I had Roucourt castle. In the book it says, that the airfield lay left of the wood we see north of

the castle. So I painted 18 Albatros shapes into the pic, plus the larger craft behind them.

The orange line would be the line drawn from the photographer (who might have climbed a tree)

to the last tree of the alleyway. The lightgreen area are young trees, which I assumed not to

have been there in those days.

Of course it's only circa, as I didn't have the right size relationship of the aircraft.

 

The maps shows Roucourt field location (red dart) and two other villages, where Jastas had been.

 

I find it touching somehow, that so little seems to have changed. It's the same with Toulis, where

Jasta 12 had also been. The village looks almost the same today, and the field is still there.

I think, I'll travel there by train and bicycle next spring or summer, to visit some former fields.

 

 

Olham... same for Boistrancourt.... it's almost identical to the way it was in 1915-1918... even the Sugar Factory is still there and running.

 

If there is one thing I respect about non-capitalist countries, is they know how to preserve countriside. Unlike us here in the States... we build over everything... including Civil War Battlefields, just so some overpaid idiot can have a new McMansion.

 

OvS

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Well, I should think, France IS a capitalist country, but yes - like Great Britain, they seem to know

how to preserve it well. Whereas - here in Germany, the communities are so blank now, they are

advised to sell even lakes. How can you buy a lake? How can the lake even be owned by anyone?

It may lay in the territory of a community, and so it belongs to it - but how can they own it in the

meaning of posession, that can be sold???

Our world is going crazier every day - and the old Indians would only shake their heads about us!

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This feeds my fantasies of a WWI aviation movie. With todays replica's and these actual locations and some computer art. A trilogy while they are at it. Come on Peter Jackson, please!

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Olham... same for Boistrancourt.... it's almost identical to the way it was in 1915-1918... even the Sugar Factory is still there and running.

 

If there is one thing I respect about non-capitalist countries, is they know how to preserve countriside. Unlike us here in the States... we build over everything... including Civil War Battlefields, just so some overpaid idiot can have a new McMansion.

 

OvS

 

 

Amen to that, OvS. The funniest thing is how we build new things (homes, ballparks) but try to make them LOOK old :blink:

 

Olham, those pics are great! I bet the swimming pool wasn't there in 1918, however.

Did Jasta 12 planes have black tails?

Edited by badgerboy

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One thing my pet Google Earth WW1 Aerodrome Mapping Project is revealing, especially as I bring the trench map overlays in, is how few aerodromes have been built over. Admittedly there were a very great many aerodromes, but more often than not the field still has the same telltale triangular shape under the plough as it did under the wing, so to speak.

 

In many cases I imagine one could probably take a metal detector to the area and determine where the hangers might have been, if not already known, by the unearthing of turnbuckles, nuts and bolts, bits of rigging cable etc.

 

And, interestingly, the latitude and longitude coordinates on Shredward's list - N50*20'41.3076 E3*6'47.0690 - do not place Roucourt where you and that famous photo show, Olham, but 3.11 kilometres to the WNW, just off the N43. How big was the aerodrome, I wonder.

Edited by Dej

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Hi Dej,

I make the grid ref of the three tents as 50:19:45N 3:08:50E. Don't remember why OFF's is where it is - might have been an early placement, or it might have been moved for terrain reasons. Dunno.

Cheers,

shred

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Thats really cool Olham. Great detective work! And technological prowess.

 

ZZ.

 

PS. Its interesting when you ponder it a bit, "Ah what that little copse of trees has seen." And may well see after we are gone as well. Makes you feel a bit small.

Edited by zoomzoom

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badgerboy - yes, Jasta 12 where the "black tails".

 

Yes, Zoomzoom - in face of history I often feel very small. I mean, even if MvR had survived

and grown 90 years old, he would habve died in 1985.

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Hello,

 

Forgive me, Olham, you've done a great job but just for the sake of accuracy, you have the airfield juuusst slightly misplaced. I realize you said the book indicates the field was "left" of the trees, but many Jasta 11 and Jasta 12 photographs show it was right of the trees.

 

roucourtairfieldjasta11ay6.jpg

 

This images shows the famous Jasta 11 lineup from April 1917, taken approximately by the x (Albs for orientation and not to scale). The famous Jasta 12 lineups from that summer were in approximately the same location, except photographed from the opposite side of the airfield. The buildings visible in the trees were the hangars built by Jasta 11. When I visited there in 2004 I could see areas in the trees where obviously buildings had once stood. If the airfield were situated to the left of the trees, the visible buildings would have been built on top of a road, and from a WW1 aerial view I have of the field there were trees where you have edited them out. Those trees were just a row on either side of the street and petered out before reaching the chateau, and in the Jasta 12 shots the further one looks left the more thick and lush the trees.

 

Here's the Jasta 11 lineup:

 

J11.jpg

 

Here's what it looked like when I was there in 2004:

 

Roucourt17.jpg

 

The building and smokestack are gone today. This was part of a coal mine ("Fosse Roucourt") that was destroyed in 1918, along with the chateau, when the Germans retreated. The mine (which was mostly ventilation shafts for nearby mines) was rebuilt but has since been torn down, although the shafts remain (they are still visible via Google earth and the mines' lat/long matches them exactly). The mine was located where the buildings can be seen in the center middle distance.

 

Here's a shot of Jasta 12 Schobinger's penultimate victory, taken after the RE8 was brought back to Roucourt:

 

re8.jpg

 

Note the building and smokestack in the background. Same as in the Jasta 11 lineup photo.

 

Also, note this photo of Manfred von Richthofen:

 

MvRDressing.jpg

 

Now, note the buildings in the background shot of Hochstetter's machine:

 

Hochstetter.jpg

 

Slightly different angle, but same building, with new building to its left where the pile of lumber is visible in the Richthofen shot.

 

What the hey, a few more shots:

 

Jasta 12 at Roucourt. Note buildings in trees, and how the trees are more than just a single row straddling a road:

 

Line-upofJasta12AlbatrosDV.jpg

 

Jasta 11 at Roucourt, 1917, taken close to the "x" in the photo above:

 

RC3.jpg

 

I took this photo from approx. the same location in 2004. The church in background matches the church ("e") in the above photo:

 

Roucourt.jpg

 

As OVS said, Boistrancourt is largely unchanged, at least the area. The sugar factory is there but the smokestack is gone, as are all the hangars and Berr's stands.

 

Some shots:

 

Near the corner of the chateau wall, looking toward where Hangar 1 used to be. Sugar factory in background, sans smokestack:

 

Boistrancourt4.jpg

 

Boistrancourt, July 1917:

 

Boistrancourt00.jpg

 

Boistrancourt05.jpg

 

Boistrancourt 2004. Wooden fence and hedge are gone today, as is the observation tower. Smaller trees are gone today as well and corn grows there:

 

Boistrancourt10.jpg

 

Debates over Roucourt, for those interested in further reading (these are about the airfield itself, not necessarily Jasta 12):

 

http://www.theaerodrome.com/forum/other-ww...a-brayelle.html

 

This one starts out discussing Albs but morphs into airfield locations:

http://www.theaerodrome.com/forum/camoufla...-2016-16-a.html

 

http://www.theaerodrome.com/forum/other-ww...a-brayelle.html

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Err, wait a minute, country preservation European style???

 

We're scared to plough some bits, never mind build on it.

 

Even trees can be worthless as lumber if they're laced with shrapnel.

post-45899-1249498535_thumb.jpg

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Sorry, JFM, but the book was made together with Victor Schobinger, who came to Jasta 12 right after they

had moved to Roucourt castle. And we should assume, that he would have remembered, if he walked LEFT

from the castle, or right, when he went to his craft.

Also, you can see clearly, that there is only an alleyway in the photograph, with no more wood behind it.

That would have been looking different, if the craft would have been where you say. In that case, the whole

forrest would have been behind the aircraft - you couldn't see sky through the trees.

 

I have had to make a correction, as there was another photo, showing the forrest went further to the left.

So I added that. Also, the aircraft had to be smaller, judged by some cars in the pic. I tried to get it better.

 

 

Edit: Could it be, that Jasta 12 first had a different field than Jasta 11 - Jasta 12 left, Jasta 11 right?

Edited by Olham

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It is amazing sometimes how little changes. Back in 1972 we deployed 4 sqn Harriers to a field in Northern (West) Germany, I can't remember exactly where it was even though I drove there in a Land Rover with the OIC. I do remember that it was owned by a 'Baron von' something or other and he had wild boar in a large fenced property. We used to feed them our leftovers after meals and they loved it!

 

One problem we normally had in Germany was camouflaging our aircraft so that we could not be spotted by the 'enemy'. I don't remember exactly who they were but we would hide every time a flight of F4s or F104Gs flew down the autobahn which was not far away. It seemed that all military aircraft in Germany navigated by the autobahns, but they never spotted us! We were not allowed under pain of death to cut down trees to create places to hide our aircraft, but found perfectly cut-out places to put them. I spoke to the estate manager (at least I think he was) and even with my poor school German found out that the cut-outs in the trees were made to fit fighters towards the end of WWII. As a Harrier is a very small aircraft, cuttings made for Me109s suited us just fine!

 

We were there for a week, and thought that the patrolling fighters must spot the burnt grass from takeoffs and landings, but they never spotted us. Maybe being so close to the autobahn fooled them.

 

I must add that using grass runways and living in tents and doing servicing outside made us closer to the RFC experience than anyone in the modern RAF had. We enjoyed it a lot, in a mad sort of way - away from the discipline and bullsh1t of regular bases, back to basics where hard work was what mattered. We also found the camaraderie between pilots and ground crew was superb, mainly because we went back to the ancient tradition of having a fitter and rigger for each kite. I was one of the fitters, and my pilot was Sqn Ldr Pat King, later to be IC all Harriers in the UK. Oh hell, the best years of my life.

Edited by JimAttrill

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Only now I found more time to see through all the information you contributed,

JFM, thanks for that. Great pictures!

When I came to the Aerodrome links, I found, that I seemed to have "knocked

the beehive". You even have debated this with Dan San Abbott?

Yours and others reconstruction about the Jasta 11 pics appears clear to me,

and the fact you have been there, and seen the placements of former hangars.

Great stuff! I want to visit the location next year.

 

Now, seeing you have done so much research, I still have a question about Jasta 12.

Is it documented anywhere, that they had the absolutely same location as Jasta 11?

Because, it makes me wonder why Victor Schobinger should remember it so wrong?

And also, why there is clearly no more forrest behind the two lines of trees, which look

only just like an alleyway.

But on the other hand you are right: the buildings would have been right on the street,

which would be pretty strange.

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Thanks for posting those pics guys, they are great! :good:

 

That pic with the "ghost" Albatrosses is quite eerie (I hope that's the right word). I often have that kind of feeling when visiting historical locations and thinking what was going on there at the same place so long ago... really makes you feel small!

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Just to add to the evidence re: the position of the Aerodrome at Roucourt, here's a 1918 1:20000 trench map of Roucourt from the McMasters collection overlaid on Google Earth. I didn't put it up yesterday because I haven't got to the 'R's yet in my Aerodrome Mapping Project so had to make an exception for this one. It shows that the aerodrome was as JFM (and Mike O'Connor in Airfields and Airmen: Arras) have shown it. The map reference at McMasters is Sector 51B 088WW1MAP

 

I guess Schobinger must have mis-remembered.

Edited by Dej

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This is really an outstandingly informative thread, especially for those of us infected with the history virus. :yes: Thanks all for sharing.

 

Cheers!

 

Lou

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Have just checked the trench maps, and those from 1918 show the field at the right, that's true, Dej.

I tried to find maps from 1917 (Jasta 12 moved to Roucourt on July 28th, 1917), but couldn't.

 

It must be assumed, the field was always at the right side of the forrest, until a proof is found, that

it had earlier been on the left.

Strange, that Schobinger should have got that wrong - pilots are usually very good with maps.

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There's certainly evidence from RFC aerodome occupation that squadrons would segregate to different areas of a general aerodrome location. It's not an aspect I've looked at so the same may well be true of the Jastas, allowing that the left side could have been used.

 

Unfortunately, from the trench map point of view it seems that aerodromes were not commonly of interest to the cartographers before 1918.

Edited by Dej

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Hi, guys,

 

Sorry it's been a bit since I've been here to reply.

 

I don't believe the Roucourt aerodrome was west of the trees early in its operation. Jasta 11 used it before Jasta 12, and they used the east side. There is also a photo of a Dr.I landing or taking off from Roucourt and it is on the east side. Fields had to be cleared of debris, holes filled in, etc., (often by prisoners) to make them viable for airplane use; why prepare a second field for J12 air ops west of the trees when just across them to the east--literally a one minute walk--there was an already prepared field that had been used by the Luftstreitkrafte's cream of the crop, Jasta 11?

 

Clearly the photographed trees in the Jasta 11 and 12 photos are much thicker than those along the lane west of the main trees that run north from the chateau. Aerial photos reveal these north/south trees are not naturally occuring (same for those on the lane, obviously); someone planted them, as opposed to their having been part of a forest. Thus, the trunks can align at various angles and give the impression the copse is thin because you can see between/through the aligned trunks. But look left in those previously posted J12 photos; very thick. Thick enough to camouflage hangars, etc., from roaming British bombers, which was a reason for Jasta 11 relocating to Roucourt in the first place.

 

Look at this aerial photo:

 

Roucourt.jpg

 

Undated, but unquestionably between 1908 and 1917. Be advised that the perspective makes the trees appear wider and less elongated N/S as they were/are. Note how the trees are all aligned in rows north/south and east/west? Now, look at the line of trees along the lane west of the chateau. See how anemic and thin in comparison? They wouldn't camouflage--or even fit--any sort of hangar, and the closer to the chateau (or, "left" in a photograph if indeed they were in those Staffeln photographs above) they become thinner with large gaps in spacing. Now, say this photo was taken in 1910. Would these trees grow at a rate to become as thick and lush as is seen in the various Staffeln photos from 1917? I'm not a tree expert but I say no, and 90 years later they are still just a thin row.

 

BTW, through the center of the tallest trees that extend north from the chateau there is a lane running straight through the middle. When you walk it you are overcanopied by foliage but you could drive a car through there. (This also "thins" the amount of trunks in there and allows one to see straight through the copse from ground level.) When you visit there, Olham, you can walk this lane and then cut through the trees to the right to reach the airfield. (Beware of an old barbed wire fence in there when you do, and for some reason there were a zillion Daddy Longleg spiders in the brush; I had to spend a few minutes getting those things off me, as they were everywhere.) I must confess, when I walked from the chateau and down that lane, with the only sound being my footsteps and the wind roaring through the leaves, I couldn't help but ponder in whose footsteps I strode.

 

Interesting about Schobinger saying he went left. "Left" is relevant to the direction faced, so left of what? I don't have that J12 book yet (they wouldn't ship to the US when I tried ordering it so I've been searching for it elsewhere) so if you have time, Olham, could you please quote what he says about getting to the field? Seems to me the pilots would just walk straight down that canopied lane to reach the planes, although they certainly could have cut east behind the chateau and then back north along the lane that ran the east perimeter of the trees (along which, at the north end, that famous J11 photo was taken with MvR and his D.III).

 

We're getting hammered by a serious lightning storm so I'm outta here.

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Hi, Jim

Thanks for all the details. You must be right there - anything else wouldn't make sense really.

Now, Schobinger didn't directly say, he walked west. Schobinger worked on the book with the

author, Michael Schmeelke (there's even a photo of both men, taken in 1986. Schobinger died

three years later). And in the book is this photograph, that you show above. The text next to it

reads: Aerial photograph of Roucourt castle; the airfield of Jasta 12 was left of the bordering

forrest in the upper picture part.

I can only assume, that some things have been exchanged between the two men via telephone,

and that Schobinger thought, they talk about the airfield location in relationship to the forrest as

seen from the airfield, looking towards the castle.

Jim, if you want that book, I can try to get it for you. You could pay book and shipping via PayPal,

if you use it, as I do. Send me a PM, if you want me to care for that. Thanks again for all.

Edited by Olham

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Hey Guys,

 

The airfield was to the right of the forest as seen on Jim´s old aerial photograph.

 

Apparently, there were/are two different types of crops which produce two different shades of green; one light and one dark.

 

 

You can see the two shades of green on this Jasta 12 photo that are divided by the dotted arrows, forming an apex (red dot). Lighter shade above the dotted lines, and darker below them

 

jasta122toneshe2.jpg

 

 

 

You can clearly see the two shades on this Jasta 11 phot. Dark above, light below, and the"apex" clearly visible.

 

j11ajc1.jpg

 

 

Amazingly, this survives until today. You can distinguish the two areas and the apex too! The yellow line indicates the direction of the Jasta 11 photo. P is where the photographer was located, and H where the hangars were in tha Jasta 11 photo.

 

roucourt2tonescq0.jpg

 

 

 

George

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Hi, guys,

 

Sorry it's been a bit since I've been here to reply.

 

'''

 

Interesting about Schobinger saying he went left. "Left" is relevant to the direction faced, so left of what?

 

....

 

 

That's the point, I'd hazard, that getting to the bottom of would yield interesting information. If one allows that the 'drome was to the right as all the evidence indicates AND one allows that Schobinger remembered accurately... then which way did he walk? Answer that and one can truly step in his footsteps, and those of MvR and many others.

 

Good to hear from you again JFM. Your posts here (or on the CK site) are never less than richly informative.

Edited by Dej

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Absolutely fascinating thread. Very informative and educational. I luv this form of 'detective' work, congratulations to all for contributing. Really adds to the interest of OFF, and greatly enhances flying in the game.

 

Another reason why I like this thread is that it includes details of the field where my favourite aeroplane colourscheme operates ie Schobinger's beautiful Albatross D.V. It's odd how that, out of all the many varied scheme's used, this is the one that captures my imagination the most.

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