Fritz Rumey (March 3, 1891 – September 27, 1918) Pour le Mérite, Golden Military Merit Cross was a German fighter pilot in the First World War, credited with 45 victories.
A pre-war infantryman with the prussian 45th Infantry regiment, he saw action against the Russians at the Eastern Front and was decorated with the Iron Cross 2nd class. Subsequently in August 1915 he applied for aviation duty and completed an observer's course and served with Fliegerabteilung (Artillerie) 219. Later he was accepted for pilot training and when he completed his training, he was sent to France in early 1917, serving for a brief period with Jasta Boelcke, and then went to Jagdstaffel 5 on 10 June 1917. He served as a Vizefeldwebel, along with Josef Mai and Otto Könnecke, as one of the three NCO pilots who flew together and scored 40% of the squadron's successes, and were known as "The Golden Triumvirate". His personal marking on the aircraft he used was a demon's head.
Rumey's first victim was a British observation balloon, flamed on July 6, 1917. His third was over British ace Captain Gerald Crole (5 victories) of 43 Squadron, who was taken prisoner. Rumey was wounded on 25 August 1917, and again on 24 September. By year's end he was credited with five victories.
Rumey continued to accrue single victories throughout the first half of 1918. He killed ace Lt. James Dawe (8 victories) of No. 24 Squadron on 7 June 1918, for his 23rd claim. This same day he was commissioned as a leutnant. He brought down and killed Canadian ace Lt. Edward C. Eaton of No. 65 Squadron on 26 June 1918. About this time, he switched to a yellow Fokker D.VII.
With 29 victories to his credit, Leutnant Rumey received the coveted Pour le Mérite in July 1918. This made him one of only five pilots to have received both this award and the Golden Military Merit Cross. He went scoreless in August but in September, shot down 16 aircraft, a figure only surpassed by Franz Büchner.
Killed in action
There are conflicting accounts of Fritz Rumey's death.
One theory was that he was killed after a mid-air collision with the SE5a of Captain G. E. B. Lawson (No. 32 Squadron, who survived). With the top wing of his Fokker D.VII smashed to pieces (his plane thus driven out of control), he bailed out. The spin that his aeroplane was in, however, caused his parachute to open incorrectly when he threw it from the cockpit.
Another suggests Lieutenant Frank Hale (7 victories) of 32 Squadron actually shot Rumey down, while Rumey's squadron comrades believed that his full throttle diving pursuit of an RAF SE5a caused the fabric to peel off the upper wing of his aircraft.
Whichever account is true, when he jumped from his damaged machine, his parachute failed entirely, sending the 27-year-old ace plummeting to the ground below (from 1,000 feet up according to Lawson's account). Rumey did not survive.
Fritz Rumey's tally of 45 victories was almost entirely over enemy fighter planes. He shot down more enemy scouts (35) than Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron.