First “Jasta” Fighter Squadron Created

Oswald Boelcke (1891-1916), leading German fighter ace and founder of Jasta 2.

August 23 1916, Péronne–In late 1915 and early 1916, German fighters dominated the skies over the Western Front.  This was the so-called “Fokker Scourge,” when German fighters had synchronization gears that let them fire machine guns through their propellers, while Allied planes did not.  By the spring of 1916, however, Allied technology had caught up, and by the beginning of the Battle of the Somme the Allies had air superiority.

With superior technology no longer an option, the Germans began to investigate regaining the advantage by superior tactics.  Oswald Boelcke, now the leading German ace after Immelmann’s death, had been developing and advocating a set of tactical rules for aerial combat, the so-called “Dicta Boelcke.”  Some of these were quite simple, such as “keep the sun behind you, if possible.”  He also strongly advocated groups of fighters flying in formation and working together.  As a result, he pushed for the creation of dedicated fighter squadrons, allowing organized groups of fighters to concentrate on challenging Allied air superiority.

On August 23, the first Jagdstaffel (“hunting squadron”), Jagdstaffel 1, was organized near the Somme.  Additional such “Jasta” were created over the coming weeks; Boelcke himself would lead Jasta 2, founded on August 30.

Today in 1915: Turkish Ambassador Departs Rome After Italian Declaration of War
Today in 1914: Germans Attack British Expeditionary Force at Mons

Spring-Summer 1916 - Ambulance driver’s diary

‘We have organized two baseball teams, the “Back and Forths” and the “Here and Theres.” We have games every day, some of them most exciting. We have quite an audience of poilus, too. Of course, the playing is rather weird, but we get a lot of fun out of it.”

Text: History of the American Field Service

Photo: American ambulance drivers playing baseball. - Les Archives Photographiques du Journal de l‘Equipe

                                                                   Let’s do this!

Voluntary Aid Detachment drivers running to their ambulances following the signaling of an ambulance train in France. Source: Imperial War Museums



On 1 July 2016, 1,400 volunteers took part in a national memorial to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. ‘We’re here because we’re here’ saw soldiers in First World War uniform appear unexpectedly in locations across the UK. Commissioned by 14-18 NOW, conceived and created by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller in collaboration with Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre and 27 other organisations including Lyric Theatre Belfast, Manchester Royal Exchange, National Theatre of Scotland and National Theatre Wales.

The soldiers congregated without ceremony in public places up and down the country. Like ghosts, the soldiers remained silent throughout the day and when approached simply handed out a white card displaying the name, rank, battalion and regiment of a real soldier who had died at the Somme on July 1 2016.  All the volunteers carried the details of a different soldier.  

19,240 British soliders were killed on the first day alone of the Battle of the Somme.

Chaplain 4th Class David De Venny Hunter. A native of Banbridge, Ireland, Chaplain Hunter was a Methodist minister from Ballina, NSW prior to enlistment, and embarked from Sydney on HMAT Anchises on 24 August 1916.

While attached to the 55th Australian Infantry Battalion, he was returning from visiting troops in the front line when he was killed by shell fire at Glencorse Wood on 28 September 1917, aged 41, and was buried in the Hooge Crater Cemetery, Zillebeke, Belgium.