Leutnant Karl Allmenröder (3 May 1896 – 27 June 1917) was a German World War I flying ace.
The medical student son of a preacher father was seasoned in the trenches as an 18-year-old artilleryman in the early days of the First World War, earning the honor of a battlefield commission to Leutnant on 30 March 1915. After transferring to aviation and serving some time as an artillery spotter in two-seater reconnaissance airplanes, he transferred to flying fighter aircraft with Jagdstaffel 11 in November 1916.
Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron, took command of Jasta 11 in January 1917. His protege Karl Allmenröder scored the first of his 30 confirmed victories on 16 February 1917. Flying a scarlet Albatros D.III trimmed out with white nose and elevators, Allmenröder would score until 26 June 1917, the day before his death. On 27 June 1917, Karl Allmenröder fell to his death near Zillebeke, Belgium. His posthumous legacy of patriotic courage would later be utilised by the National Socialist German Workers Party.
Early life and ground service
Allmenröder was born in Wald, Rhine Province, on 3 May 1896, the son of a Lutheran minister. He was interested in the practice of medicine and was a medical student in Marburg. His reputation became one of a quiet, good natured, dutiful young man.
Allmenröder was only 18 when the war began. He became an artilleryman, joining Field Regiment 62 for training, and being transferred to Field Regiment 20 for duty. In January 1915, he returned to Regiment 62. While serving in Poland fighting against the Russian Imperial Army, he was awarded the Iron Cross Second Class in March, 1915. He also was commissioned to leutnant on 30 March 1915. He was awarded the Friedrich-August Cross First Class in August 1915.
Allmenröder transferred to the air service on 16 March 1916, at the same time as his brother Wilhelm. Karl Allmenröder trained at Halberstadt. He flew two-seaters as an artillery spotter in Flieger-Abteilung (Artillerie): [Flier Detachment (Artillery)] 227 before joining Jagdstaffel 11 in November 1916. After Manfred von Richthofen assumed command in January, 1917, Jasta 11 became one of the premier squadrons of the German Flying Service. Allmenröder rose in the pantheon of Jasta 11 stars. His career as a fighter ace was spectacular but short, lasting from 16 February to 26 June 1917. He achieved his victories flying a scarlet Albatros D.III with white nose and elevators.
"Karlchen" scored his first win on 16 February 1917–a B.E.2c of No 16 Squadron–with 2/Lt. EW Lindley and 2/Lt.LV Munn reported missing. He scored four more victories the following month and became an ace on 30 March. On 24 March 1917, he was also awarded the Iron Cross First Class.
He had achieved nine victories by the end of April 1917, and took his tally to thirteen in May. On 13 May, he was promoted to acting Jasta leader, a prestigious honor for a young man just turned 21. He was lightly wounded on 25 May though this did not prevent him shooting down a New Zealand air ace, Captain Alan Scott, on 28 May 1917.
On 6 June 1917, Allmenröder was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Hohenzollern Order and, on 14 June, he received the German Empire's most prestigious award, the Pour le Mérite. The following day, the man who had appointed him acting commanding officer, Manfred von Richthofen, returned from leave and reassumed command for the next nine days. Richthofen not only entrusted Allmenroeder with command, he would even fly wingman in patrols led by Karl.
Allmenröder was also busy scoring eight more victories during June. His 29th, and penultimate victory, was scored on 25 June against Canadian ace Flight Lieutenant Gerald Ewart Nash, who became a prisoner. He had succeeded to permanent command of Jasta 11 on that day, when von Richthofen had been promoted to command of Germany's first fighter wing, Jagdgeschwader 1, commonly called "The Flying Circus".
Killed in action
Allmenröder reached 30 victories (a Nieuport flown by Lt CC Street of No 1 Squadron RFC on 26 June) before being shot down at 0945 hours on 27 June 1917. The cause of Allmenröder's death is debatable, but he died in a crash near Zillebeke. German infantry soldiers retrieved his body from no man's land the night he was killed. It was a ghoulish detail; the crashed Albatros was so embedded in a hasty cemetery of casualties from the year before that it took two hours to disinter Allmenröder from the decomposing bodies around him.
He was interred in the Evangelical Cemetery in Wald. His brother Wilhelm later married Karl's fiancee, Helene Kortenbach.
His legacy of valor was later used by the NSDAP for propaganda purposes. For this reason, streets named after him have been renamed and he is not honored in memoriam in his hometown.
Decorations and awards
- Pour le Merite (14 June 1917)
- Knights Cross of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern (6 June 1917)
- Iron Cross, 1st and 2nd class
- Friedrich August Cross, 1st and 2nd class (Grand Duchy of Oldenburg, 20 July 1917)
- Militar Kronen Orden (Bavaria)