Leutnant der Reserve, Jasta 2 "Boelcke", Commander Jasta 5, Jasta 29, Jasta 10
He was awarded the Pour le Mérite in recognition of his 25th aerial victory.
Born April 13, 1897 in Krefeld.
Jasta 2, Jasta 5, Jasta 29, Jasta 10
Awards: Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class, Knights Cross with Swords of the Hohenzollern House Order, and the Orden Pour le Mérite.
PLM: 8 April 1917
Werner Voss was born in Krefeld on April 13, 1897. He was the son of an industrial dyer and was expected to follow in the family tradition of the trade of dyeing. His family home was a nicely furnished two storey house with surrounding grounds. He had two older sisters; Margret Rose and Katherine. Upon completing his schooling he volunteered to be a part of the Krefeld Militia, so when the war broke out he was immediately assigned to the 11th Westphalian Hussar Regiment and was sent to the French border.
Werner Voss posing with family while Manfred von Richthofen takes picture. Sisters, Margret and Katherine, pose on each side of their mother.
A year later he requested that he be assigned with the Flying Corps and received training as a pilot. Werner Voss was a natural pilot and was posted as a flight instructor (the youngest one) due to his flying skills, but this was a disappointment to him. He managed to get posted as an observer and then gained his Pilot's badge and upon completing his officers's training and receiving the rank of Leutnant, he was lucky enough to be assigned as a member of Boelcke's Jasta 2.
It was in Jasta 2 where he became acquainted with Manfred von Richthofen, who soon became a close friend. Training under the leadership of Oswald Boelcke, both young men improved their skills as fighter pilots and Werner scored his first victory on November 27, 1916. He was only 19 years old. By the end of July, 1917 Werner had received his own command, received the Pour le Mérite, become a household name in Germany, and was only 20 years old just as of April 13th.
Werner had several personal quirks that he indulged in such as his love of motorbikes and all things mechanical in nature. He and Manfred enjoyed photography together. Werner was also known as a casual dresser while on the ground and insisted on dressing his best while flying just in case he was forced to land and might happen to meet some ladies on the ground.
Sometimes pilots found it necessary to go to extremes to prove their victories. One such occasion came to Werner Voss when he felt it necessary to land and confirm a victory by getting proof. He had not other German flyers to confirm his victory that fell behind enemy lines, so he landed his bird, ran out and removed the machine gun from the enemy's plane and then returned to his own machine. He returned just in time to get away from advancing British troops and give them a jubilant wave good-bye.
At this time Werner Voss was flying his own distinctive Fokker Dr.I with the markings of yellow chrome cowling of Jasta 10 and the face of the Kaiser painted upon the noise of the plane. But his age is not the only thing that he is well remembered for, he took part in one of the most legendary aerial combats in history. On September 23, 1917 as he approached his third quarry of the day, seven enemy fighters came upon him and he single handedly engaged these men in combat. One of these enemy fighters was Commander Major James MacCudden and he is quoted with saying the following of Werner Voss's engagement that day.
"Strangely, I was the only pilot who saw the triple-decker shatter on the ground. Even Rhys-Davids, who delivered the last shots, did not see him crash. As long as I live, my admiration for this flyer shall never cease. For ten minutes he alone held seven of us at bay, and kept hitting all of us. The flying skills of the German were masterly, his boldness extraordinary. We all agreed this evening that the enemy flyer must have been one of the best. Was it Richthofen, Wolff, or Voss? He fell within our lines. Through radio we heard that he was salvage from the crash."
It is too bad that "salvaged" did not mean that he was pulled out alive. His death greatly effected his family and co-pilots, and especially his friend, Manfred von Richthofen. The British recovered his body in the area of Frezenburg.