Oberleutnant, Jasta 11
He was awarded the Pour le Mérite in recognition of his leadership and achieving his 29th aerial victory.
Born 6 February 1895 in Griefswald, Pomerania
Jasta 11, Jasta 29
Awards: Iron Cross 1st and 2nd, Bavarian Military Merit order 4th Class with Swords, Knight's Cross with Swords of the Hohenzollern House Order and the Pour le Mérite.
PLM: 4 May 1917
His father was an architect, but at a tender age Kurt was orphaned. Young Kurt went to live with relatives in Memal. At age 17 he became a cadet with Eisenbahn Railway Regiment Number 4 at Schoesberg where he served as an Unteroffizer in the field. After seeing action in the war he decided seek a transfer to the German Army Air Service. Although his unit was relunctant to let him go, he was given a transfer and accepted into the air service in July 1915. His first training flight almost got him killed when his instructor misjudged a landing causing them to crash. The crash killed the instructor, but Kurt servived with a dislocated shoulder. This event did not deter him from getting his pilots badge. After seeing action with his first squadron, he was posted to Jasta 11 on 5 November 1916.
Despite the amount of time that he had flown, he still had not made his first kill. It wasn't until the Jasta was taken over by Manfred von Richthofen under whose guidance the Jasta started to improve their skills greatly. Within a couple of weeks Kurt Wolff made his first aerial victory. It was 6 March 1917 over Givenchy against a BE2d No.5856 of the 16 Squadron. His victory list increased rapidly and he was awarded on the 26 April the Knight's Cross with Swords of the Hohenzollern House Order and a week later the Pour le Mérite. He shortly commanded Jasta 29 and then returned to command Jasta 11 when von Richthofen was given command of Jagdgeschwader I.
After taking command of Jasta 11 his luck ran out, when in a battle with 12 Sopwith Triplanes, he had one Triplane bore down upon him with a shower of bullets that hit him in the left shoulder and hand and knocked out his machine gun. With only one working hand he managed to fly back to his base. He was taken to Field Hospital No. 76 (St. Nicolas) in Coutrai. He eventually ended up sharing a room his his friend and commander, Manfred von Richthofen.
From his hospital be he wrote to his sweetheart, Maria Martha Bömeleit: "Early yesterday...I had my hand out right where an Englishman was shooting. And since my hand made just as little effort to turn aside as the bullet did, the bullet, being the harder component, went through the hand. Consequently, I have a clean shot through the left hand. The wrist bone was shot clean through, and this whole affair will be over within a few weeks, without any after-effects. I believe I have to be in the hospital for another three days. When I can get up. I will return to the Staffel, even if I cannot fly for the time being."
Kurt was a tall slender man of good nature. He was shy at times and considered to be modest among the pilots. He became a biserker in the sky against the enemy and a good sport on the ground. He even endured the nickname zarte Blümlein "delicate little flower", which was placed upon him by one of the Richthofen brothers. Everyone in Jasta 11 had nicknames including the Rittmeister.
Kurt Wolff spent more than 3 days in the hospital and was grounded for a much longer period of time. When he finally returned to full duty, it was September. By then Fokker had delivered the new Triplanes, one of which went to Werner Voss, and the other to Manfred von Richthofen and Kurt Wolff to fly. All three men took a strong like to the plane. It was a difficult plane to fly and only those highly skilled could handle it due to it's potentially hostile nature.
By this time Kurt Wolff had been promoted to Oberleutnant and was also feeling impatient about not having increased his victory score. He wrote to his sweetheart, " because so far, I've had bad luck. I have already fought it out with about 20 Englishmen and haven't gotten one down."
On a heavily overcast 15 September 1917, Jasta 11 departed and headed westwards. Kurt was flying the shared Triplane while the rest of the Jasta still flew Albatros scouts. At some point he became separated from his Jasta and started searching for his men. He encountered an enemy squadron and attacked until the numbers overwhelmed him. Lutheran services were held for Kurt Wolff in his hometown of Memel and another was held in Courtrai at St. Joseph's Church so that his fellow soldiers could pay their respects. His Kommadeur and friend could not make either of the ceremonies but did write the following obituary:
"On 15 Spetmeber 1917, after fierce aerial combat, Royal Prussian Oberleutnant Kurt Wolff, Knight of the Order Pour le Mérite, died a hero's death for his Fatherland.
In deep pain, the Geschwader, together with the entire flying corps, stands at the all-too-early grave of a leader proven in valient combat, who led his brave band from voctory to victory. He offered up his young life not in forced defense, but rather in a ruthless attack of his own choosing.
With his friendly nature and his quiet modesty, he was one of the dearest and best comrades to us all.
He will live on for all time in the history of the Geschwader as a model of soldierly virtue, as an example that is given only by the very finest."