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Joseph Doerflinger, Alsatian in the German Army 1914-1918

Started as soldier, then became pilot


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    • This is a short account of the life of Joseph Doerflinger, pilot in the German air force during World War I. As an orphan and Alsatian, he had volunteered at 16 for the flying service in the German Air Force, but he was too young, so he became a machine gunner in the army. He spent three years at the front, three years of mudding, trenching, killing, blood, devastation, filth and disease, and foul smells. He fought on both the Western and the Eastern fronts. He survived the murderous battles of the Schratzmannele an Hartmansweilerkopf in the Vosges mountains, and the hell-fire of the Verdun sector. He had witnessed the defeat of the Russians at Gorlice. He had campaigned against the Russians in Galicia. Finally 19 years old, at the end of 1917, he was accepted to the training school for aviators at Hannover, Germany. His first flight was on January 7, 1918. After training, he was transferred to the Von Richthofen Jagdstaffel 10 (the red Baron ). In April 1918 Manfred von Richthofen was shot down by the Royal Air Force and the new Staffelführer became Herman Göring (the later Reichmarschall der Luftwaffe), in the same squadron were famous aces like Ernst Udet and Loewenhardt. After months of fighting in different parts of the front in the Jasta 10, Doerflinger and other members of the squad were transferred to the Jasta 64 until the end of the war. Doerflinger was a non commissioned officer, a Feldwebel in the German air force. He was shot down twice and had 14 air victories. After the armistice, he joined the French air force and became a flight instructor in Istres. Some of his flying students also became famous pilots, like Jean Mermoz. In the 1920s he started to work for the French air company Latécoère and Aeropostale, with Jean Mermoz and Antoine de Saint-exupéry. In the late 1920th he emmigrated with his family to the United States of America, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There he worked as a pilot and for aviation companies. He married Marie Hodapp in 1924 and had 8 children and many grandchildren. He was my Great-uncle. Information from his book "Stepchild Pilot" written in 1959 and from the Magazine "Diligence d'alsace"





  • Date:

    • 1918-11
    • 1914-10
  • Temporal:

    • 2014-11-05 09:00:43 UTC
  • Place/Time:

    • Aerial Warfare
    • Western Front


  • Source:

    • User contributed content
  • Identifier:

    • 18139
  • Institution:

  • Provider:

  • Providing country:

  • First published in Europeana:

    • 2014-11-27
  • Last updated in Europeana:

    • 2016-07-27

References and relations


  • Location:

    • Albert France
  • Place/Time:

    • Aerial Warfare
    • Western Front
  • Subjects, resource types, genres and forms (Concepts)