Offzstv. Bernhard Harms, Kampfeinsitzer-Kommando Nord - Bertincourt, 17. August 1916

Geliebte Eltern

My dedication for our fatherland and my five victories at Kasta 18 came to fruition yesterday -
my transfer to a single-seater unit took place after lunch. I now belong to Kampfeinsitzerkommando
, which is based at Bertincourt.
That came faster than I had expected, and there was a great Hallo for my farewell. Everybody wished
me well for my new work, which now is the hunting and shooting- down of intruding two-seaters.
It was not easy to say goodbye, and our Hauptmann held a short speech, and then they all toasted to
me with Champaign, and I felt a bit bashful. Especially saying "goodbye" to Leutnant Klein, my
observer, was hard. But I am not far away from them - they drove me here by car, and it was a short
tour of only 15 kilometers. I had to promise that I will visit them with my new Fokker Eindecker,
and I will do, as soon as our new Staffelfhrer, Hptm. Zander, allows it.

Yesterday afternoon and this morning, I familiarised myself with the Fokker E.III. I had flown the
craft before, when we had visited the Armeeflugpark, and so I didn't feel like a stranger.
Then, after lunchtime, I was among the flyers on alert. At 14 h we were called to take off - three British
two-seaters without escort came in, flying along the road Bapaume-Cambrai.
All the other four pilots were flying the new Halberstadt, and so I thought I had not much of a chance
to even get close at those Englishmen. But then Fortuna was with me - while the others climbed faster,
to reach the highest flyers, one two-seater split off and came down lower.
Perhaps he was hit by Flak, or one of our pilots had hit them - however, he was coming exactly my way!
And what should I say: I engaged them and hit the big craft with several good bursts.
The gunner was hit with the first rounds and sunk into his pit; my next bursts cut out the engine,
and now the whole big sandcoloured plane glided down westwards. The pilot could put it down on a field,
and the Englishmen were taken prisoners.
Hptm. Zander was a bit upset about my early engagement; he would have prefered, that I would have
hung back a bit longer. He asked all other pilots, if it couldn't be, that one of them had demolished
the Bleriot Experimental. But our flight leader, Lt. von Mulzer, insisted that I had brought the Tommi
down alone, and so my claim was forwarded. It got even better - it was confirmed before dinner time!
There had been so many witnesses, that it was plain sailing!
That was great of Lt. von Mulzer - and yes: he is the ace you must have read about, with no less but
10 vitories!

Now don't know right now if and when I could come home, but we will see - perhaps they will give me
two weeks leave soon. After all I am an ace now with my 6 victories!

You will soon receive a longer letter.
I love you, and my thoughts are with you every day!


[all correspondence from military personnel was of course censored in the war - my crossing out is meant
to show, what would in real life be blackened out unreadable.]

Vice-President of the BOC (Barmy OFFers Club)
Member of the 'Albatros Aviators Club' - "We know how to die with Style!"