Eugen Bönsch

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Eugen Bönsch
File:Eugen Bonsch.jpg
Born 1 May 1897
Velká Úpa, Austria-Hungary
Died 24 July 1951
Ehrwald, Austria
Allegiance Austro-Hungarian Empire; Germany
Service/branch Aviation
Rank Feldwebel (later Hauptmann)
Unit Flek 8, Flek 6, Flik 51J
Awards 3 Gold Awards of the Medal for Bravery
Other work Hauptmann (captain) in Luftwaffe during World War II

Feldwebel Eugen Bönsch was a World War I flying ace credited with 16 aerial victories.[1]

Early life and service

Bönsch studied mechanics at the State Trade School. He originally joined the army in 1915, but after completing basic training transferred to aviation.[2] His original assignment was as a mechanic with Fliegerersatzkompagnie 6.[3]

Flying service

He requested flight training in 1917. He completed it at Flek 8 on 22 June 1917. His promotion to corporal followed six days later. In August, he was assigned to Flik 51 on the Italian front; he scored his first victory shortly thereafter, on 1 September,[4] teamed with Franz Wognar.[5] He became a balloon buster with his next triumph, on 28 September; it took several firing passes at 700 meters altitude through heavy ground fire, dodging a couple of enemy fighters, to down the balloon. In the next thirteen months, his victory skein would include five more balloons,[6] making him the Austro-Hungarian's leading balloon killer.[7] He received his first Medal for Bravery for this victory. He also downed a Nieuport the following day.[8][9]

Bönsch began the new year of 1918 by surviving being shot down by anti-aircraft fire.[10] He also added other dimensions to his flying repertoire. On 10 March, he led such a determined assault on an escorted of Italian Capronis that the bombers aborted the mission. The next day, Bönsch began a week of low-level raids on the Italian airfields at Marcon and Treviso, and the port of Portegrandi. The next few months, from April through October, Bönsch carried out a hectic double load of air-to-air combat intermixed with ground attack strikes, including at the Battle of the Piave.[11]

On 8 October 1918, he became one of the few World War I pilots to survive being set afire; he parachuted to safety.[12] He made his way back to his home airfield from enemy territory and returned to battle.[13] He scored his final four victories after this incident.[14] By 24 October, the Battle of Vittorio Veneto had worn the local Austro-Hungarian air force down to only 29 planes. Bönsch was one of the remaining pilots, and scored two victories on the 27th, and one each on the 28th and 29th.[15]

Post World War I

After the war, he was an innkeeper. When World War II began, he returned to duty and was appointed Hauptmann because of his prior experience.[16] He then served at Oschatz Air Base in Saxony.[17][18]

Sources of information

  1. http://www.theaerodrome.com/aces/austrhun/bonsch.php Retrieved 6 January 2010.
  2. http://www.theaerodrome.com/aces/austrhun/bonsch.php Retrieved 6 January 2010.
  3. Balloon Busting Aces of World War I. p. 78.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. http://www.theaerodrome.com/aces/austrhun/bonsch.php Retrieved 6 January 2010.
  5. Austro-Hungarian Aces of World War 1. pp. 67–68.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. http://www.theaerodrome.com/aces/austrhun/bonsch.php Retrieved 6 January 2010.
  7. http://www.theaerodrome.com/aces/balloon_busters.php?pageNum_score=3&totalRows_score=74 Retrieved 6 January 2010
  8. Balloon Busting Aces of World War I. p. 78.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Austro-Hungarian Aces of World War 1. p. 69.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Balloon Busting Aces of World War I. p. 78.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Austro-Hungarian Aces of World War 1. p. 70.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. http://www.theaerodrome.com/aces/austrhun/bonsch.php Retrieved 6 January 2010.
  13. http://www.swwisa.net/kuklft/aces.html Retrieved 6 January 2010.
  14. http://www.theaerodrome.com/aces/austrhun/bonsch.php Retrieved 6 January 2010.
  15. Austro-Hungarian Aces of World War 1. p. 71.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. http://www.swwisa.net/kuklft/aces.html Retrieved 6 January 2010.
  17. http://www.theaerodrome.com/aces/austrhun/bonsch.php Retrieved 6 January 2010.
  18. Austro-Hungarian Aces of World War 1. p. 71.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

References