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Edmund Nathanael

Edmund Nathanael

German flying ace
The basics
Occupations Flying ace
Gender male
Birth December 18, 1889 (Dielsdorf)
Death May 11, 1917 (Bourlon Wood Memorial)
Edmund Nathanael
The details

Offiziersstellvertreter Edmund Nathanael (18 December 1889 – 11 May 1917) was a World War I flying ace credited with 15 aerial victories. He flew both two-seater reconnaissance aircraft and single-seater fighter craft. He scored all his victories while flying for Royal Prussian Jagdstaffel 5, and received a rare award of the House Order of Hohenzollern for his valor. He was killed in action while serving the German Empire.

Early life

Edmund Nathanael was born on 18 December 1889 in Dielsdorf, the German Empire.

Reconnaissance service

It is not known if Edmund Nathanael first served in a ground unit, although that was the usual practice for German aviation volunteers. However, Nathanael's first aviation service was with Flieger-Abteilung (Artillerie) 42 (FAA 42). This unit operated two-seater reconnaissance aircraft and carried out the hazardous task of directing artillery fire from its aerial station. While serving with Flieger-Abteilung (Artillerie) 42, Nathanael served with enough distinction that he earned the seldom awarded Wilhelm Ernst War Cross from his native Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, as well as the Grand Duchy's General Honor Decoration in Gold with Swords. The German military customarily seasoned its aviation personnel in combat; the most promising were then "promoted" to fighter pilots. The system conserved the single-seater fighter pilots, as they would not easily fall victim to rookie errors when they entered combat.

Service in fighters

Nathanael was forwarded to a fighter unit in late 1916; it was then customary to reassign a pilot to one of the four national air forces that constituted the German Air Service. In Nathanael's case, his native Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach adjoined the Kingdom of Saxony. He was not only assigned to a Saxon squadron, he seemed to be a founding member of Royal Saxon Jagdstaffel 22, which formed in November 1916. He would serve with this unit until March 1917. He gained no victories while with this squadron. The squadron itself would amass 57 victories by war's end.

A colorfully painted Albatros D.Va reproduction in flight at the Duxford Airshow 2012. Nathanael's insignia is unknown.

However, he served well enough that in March 1917, he transferred to the prestigious Royal Prussian Jagdstaffel 5. With this reassignment, he was posted to serve with some very successful aces—Renatus Theiller, Werner Voss, Hans Karl Müller, and Hans Berr among them. Nathanael was assigned to fly an Albatros D.V. In contrast to Jagdstaffel 22, Jagdstaffel 5 would be credited with 253 victories during World War I.

Nathanael scored his first aerial victory with Jagdstaffel 5 on 6 March; he would run his victory total to 15 in two months. Nathanaels 14th victory on 30 April 1917 made him the first pilot in history to shoot down an SE-5 (of No. 56 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps). Five days after his 15th victory was credited, Nathanael's plane was shot down in flames as the ninth of 21 victories of Scottish ace Captain William Kennedy-Cochran-Patrick of No. 23 Squadron RFC, which killed Nathanael in action. Captain Kennedy-Cochran-Patrick was flying Spad VII serial number B1580 when he shot down Nathanael.

Nathanael was one of only 18 German fliers to receive the House Order of Hohenzollern during the First World War and one of three German Jews to do so, the others having been Fritz Beckhardt and Wilhelm Frankl, the latter a 20-victory ace who later won the Pour le Merite. The names of Nathanael and Beckhardt were removed from the list of recipients during the Nazi era.

Aerial victories of Edmund Nathanael

All victories were scored while flying with Royal Prussian Jagdstaffel 5.

No. Date Time Opponent Squadron Location
1 6 March 1917 1345 hours Morane-Saulnier serial number A268 Escadrille 3, Aéronautique Militaire North of Guedecourt
2 11 March 1917 1245 hours Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2b No. 23 Squadron RFC North of Beugny, France
3 24 March 1917 0900 hours Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter No. 70 Squadron RFC Écoust-Saint-Mein, France
4 25 March 1917 0920 hours Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter No. 70 Squadron RFC Vélu, France
5 25 March 1917 0925 hours Nieuport 17 No. 29 Squadron RFC East of Beugny, France
6 2 April 1917 Morning Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2b s/n 6953 No. 22 Squadron RFC Northeast of Gouzeaucourt Wood
7 3 April 1917 1635 hours Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2b s/n 4987 No. 23 Squadron RFC North of Boursies, France
8 6 April 1917 0820 hours Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2b s/n A6388 No. 57 Squadron RFC Douchy
9 13 April 1917 1935 hours Observation balloon s/n 34-16-4 West of Saint Quentin
10 22 April 1917 1410 hours Observation balloon s/n 3-13-5 Bus, Pas-de-Calais, France
11 22 April 1917 2005 hours Spad No. 23 Squadron RFC Ribecourt
12 28 April 1917 1315 hours Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter s/n/A993 No. 43 Squadron RFC Vacquerie-le-Boucq, France
13 29 April 1917 2100 hours Nieuport fighter s/n A6745 No. 40 Squadron RFC Beaumont
14 30 April 1917 1005 hours Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 s/n A4866 No. 56 Squadron RFC East of Fresnoy, France
15 6 May 1917 1840 hours Nieuport 17 No. 60 Squadron RFC North of Bourlon, France

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Early life Reconnaissance service Service in fighters Aerial victories of Edmund Nathanael
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