Blog: The War Theatres
The bold exploits of the fighter pilots caught the attention of the public. Aerial duels fought by young men in the clear skies satisfied the heroic notion of warfare; something that the bloody trench fighting could no longer do. Each nation had its air heroes, although many of them had only short lives. Those who destroyed five enemy aircraft were referred to as ‘aces’. The greatest of these, of any side, was the German, Manfred von Richthofen, who shot down 80 opponents. The top British ‘ace’ was Edward ‘Mick’ Mannock.
Australian airmen served overseas from the earliest days of the First World War. Two pilots were sent to New Guinea in 1914, but were not needed. The following year a group, to become known as the Mesopotamian half-flight, went to the Middle East and were absorbed into the Royal Flying Corps. Here, in a disastrous campaign for the British against the Turks, the Australian Flying Corps suffered its first casualties and some of the men were taken prisoner.