Julius Buckler, in dress uniform. Note the Pour le Merite at his throat, which was awarded 4 December 1917.
|Born||28 March 1894
|Died||23 May 1960
|Years of service||1913–18|
|Unit||FA(A) 209, FEA 6, Jasta 17|
|Awards||Pour le Mérite, Golden Military Merit Cross, Iron Cross 1st & 2nd Class, Golden Wound Badge|
Julius Buckler (28 March 1894 Mainz-Mombach – 23 May 1960 Bonn) was a German First World War fighter ace credited with 36 victories during the war. He shot down 29 enemy airplanes and 7 balloons; two other victories went unconfirmed. He was one of only four German fighter aces to win Germany's highest decorations for valor for both enlisted man and officer.
Early life and service
Buckler's father was a roofer, and Buckler followed him into the family trade. At 15 years of age, Buckler had an interest in architecture and worked for Anthony Fokker but left in October, 1912 to join the Infantry Life Regiment 117. After suffering a bad wound on the Western Front in September, 1914, he applied for a transfer to the German Army Air Service (Luftstreitkräfte) the following month while on recuperation leave.
He trained in FEA 6 (Flieger-Ersatz-Abteilung 6), and by the summer of 1915 was flying artillery direction missions over Verdun as an Observer in FA(A) 209 before training as a pilot. In November 1916 he transferred to Jasta 17 as a founding member. Just after he joined Jagdstaffel 17, they re-equipped with the Albatros D.II.
Aerial victories and wounds
He scored his initial victory on 17 December 1916, making numerous passes at a French Caudron over Bras before shooting it down.
On 17 July he scored victory number 11 although he was wounded again and did not score again until 9 August. On 11 August he downed a British RE 8, and was wounded yet again the next day. Victory 14 was on 29 September, possibly because the wound kept him out of action.
On 18 November he was commissioned as a Leutnant. He was wounded for the fourth time on 30 November 1917, wounded in both his arms and chest. His subsequent crash then completely broke both arms. He lay under his smashed aircraft for hours before counter-attacking German infantry overran the wreckage and rescued him. On 4 December 1917, while he was recovering from his wounds, he was awarded the Pour le Mérite. The injuries kept him out of action for months and he would not score again until 16 April 1918.
After recovering, he rejoined Jasta 17. At this time had two airplanes dedicated for his personal use. He dubbed them Mops and Lilly. He flew "Mops" and "Lilly" to score 3 more victories before he was severely wounded yet again on 6 May 1918, this time in the left ankle. His next victory came 5 months later on 5 October. He scored twice more in the final days of the war, and had his second unconfirmed triumph on 8 November.
In 1939, Buckler wrote his memoirs, entitled "Malaula! Der Kampfruf meiner Staffel (Malaula! The Battle Cry of my Squadron)".
He survived World War II and died in Bonn, West Germany, on 23 May 1960.
Decorations and awards
- Pour le Mérite (4 December 1917)
- Iron Cross of 1914, 1st and 2nd class
- Warrior Decoration in Iron (Hesse)
- Wound Badge (1918) in Gold
- Gold Military Merit Cross (Prussia)
- It is believed that Buckler is the only German ace to receive the Golden Wound Badge. During World War I, this award in Gold was made only for permanently disabling or disfiguring wounds.
- Franks, Norman; Bailey, Frank W.; Guest, Russell. Above the Lines: The Aces and Fighter Units of the German Air Service, Naval Air Service and Flanders Marine Corps, 1914–1918. Grub Street, 1993. ISBN 0-948817-73-9, ISBN 978-0-948817-73-1.
- Norman Franks, Greg VanWyngarden. Fokker D VII Aces of World War I, Osprey Publishing, 2003. ISBN 1-84176-533-3, ISBN 978-1-84176-533-4.
- Greg VanWyngarden, "Albatros Aces of World War I, Part 2: V. 2" Osprey Publishing, 2007.
- Fokker D.VII Aces of World War I Part 2.
- Fokker DVII Aces of World War I Part 2.
- 'Above The Lines', Franks, Guest & Bailey, 1993 (Grub street) page 87
- Albatros Aces of "World War I. p. 46.