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With 40 victories to his name at the time of his death Hauptmann Oswald Boelcke was Germanys greatest fighter pilot and air unit commander Boelcke was born in Giebichstein near Halle Saxony the fourth child of six in a schoolteachers family Ever an active youth he excelled at gymnastics swimming and mountain climbing In 1911 after he graduated from high school he joined the Prussian Cadet Corps Communication battalion and was later posted to a Telegraph battalion in KoblenzRheine gaining his commission in 1912 Attracted to the flying corps he transferred to the Fliegertruppe pilot-troop in May of 1914 and learned to fly at the Halberstadt Aeroplane Works Boelcke passed the third and final pilots exam on August 15 1914 just days before the outbreak of war Oswald was initially assigned with his brother Wilhelm to the Fliegerabteilung pilot-department 13 Wilhem was five years older than Oswald and served as his observer After quarrels with other flyers the brothers decided it would be best to be posted to different units In May 1915 he was transferred to a unit near Douai France Feldfliegerabteilung field-pilot-department 62 Later in 1915 Boelcke was the pilot chosen to test Anthony Fokkers new machine gun synchronizing device It was a great success and Boelcke used the new invention to become the first German ace It was at Feldfliegerabteilung 62 FFA 62 that Boelcke met another rising star Max Immelmann The two began a friendly scoring rivalry flying Fokker Eindeckers After each downing eight enemy planes he and Immelmann were awarded the Orden Pour le Mrite Blue Max on 12 January 1916 They were the first two pilots to receive Prussias highest award for bravery Also while stationed with FFA 62 Boelcke saved a French boy from drowning The grateful villagers wanted the French government to award him the Legion of Honor This was not likely Boelcke did receive the Prussian Life
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