Konrad Berthold von Blumenthal June 28th, 1916. Sivry-sur-Meuse, Verdun. Fokkerstaffel Sivry
The next day did not start well for Konrad. Climbing out of his bed he spied a note tucked under the door of his hut. He unfolded it and read...
Sorry, von Blumenthal. Your claim has been rejected due to lack of evidence. Better luck next time.
Konrad cursed, crumpled the note and threw it against the wall. He could have sworn that Nieuport went down. Whether it was he that caused it was a different matter, but he would keep that to himself. He dressed and went over to the canteen to have some breakfast. He saw Boelcke, huddled in close coversation with yet another new arrival, a very smart looking man with an air of authority. The two men clearly knew each other well. Konrad felt a nudge in the back.
"What's puzzling you?". Konrad turned to face Holler, who was smiling at him, mischievously.
"Err, I was wondering who the Hauptmann's guest might be", said Konrad, trying to act nonchalantly.
"That's no guest, he's our latest squadron member! Ernst Hess and our Hauptmann flew together in FA62. He's a damned good pilot by all accounts."
Holler was about to share more information when he was abruptly cut off by Hauptmann Boelcke rising from his chair to announce that he wanted everyone to assemble outside, by rank. He had an important announcement. There was a loud commotion, as chairs scraped and people srarted talking loudly, wondering exactly what was about to happen. Everyone trooped outside and lined up as instructed. After several minutes, Boelcke emerged and stood in front of the men.
"Now then! Please quieten down and give me your full attention. I have some news for you all. As of today I am no longer your commanding officer. I have been recalled by high command to assist with strategic planning of the war effort. I have seen this unit grow in stature during my time here. There are some remarkable pilots among you. I want you to continue the excellent work you are doing for the Fatherland! You will be in good hands... some of you have already met Oberleutnant Kirmaier. Please also welcome Vizefeldwebel Hess! These two gentleman will be taking over my responsibilities here. Do everything they ask of you, and give your greatest effort for a grateful nation!"
The assembled group roared it's approval of Boelcke's stirring words, as Boelcke himself commenced upon a round of handshakes with each individual present. When he eventually got to Konrad, he leaned in and whispered, "Hard luck on the claim, young man. Perhaps you'll really deserve the next one, eh?". He winked at Konrad and moved on to the next man in line. Konrad's face drained of color. He wished the ground would open up and swallow him.
A routine patrol of friendly lines followed Boelcke's departure. Nobody was really in the mood and after 45 minutes they returned to Sivry. Upon arrival, Konrad was given his second message of the day. This was a telegram. Konrad read it, his face immediately twisting with concern and fear. His father was gravely ill and he was to return home at the earliest opportunity. Within the hour he was granted a leave of absence on compassionate grounds. By that same evening Konrad was boarding a train bound for Konigsberg.