Airman climbed out of WW1 plane in mid-air to make repairs


The incredible story of how a German First World War airman climbed out of a fighter plane mid-air to fill a hole with his boot has been revealed in a pilot’s long-lost photo album.

Emil Buge flew on 37 sorties against the British on the Western Front, dropping 27 bombs, 128 grenades and firing 9,500 rounds of ammunition.

Now, almost 100 years after he took to the skies over France, his personal archive has been discovered in an antique shop in Argentina.

Emil Buge (pictured) flew on 37 sorties against the British on the Western Front, dropping 27 bombs, 128 grenades and firing 9,500 rounds of ammunition

Emil Buge (pictured) flew on 37 sorties against the British on the Western Front, dropping 27 bombs, 128 grenades and firing 9,500 rounds of ammunition

The fascinating collection, including two logbooks, a flight book, shooting book and Buge’s personal notes, also features an album with 417 original photos.

The picturebook shows fascinating images of aerial warfare, including crashed biplanes, German aviators and scenes from the battlefields.

One of the photos in particular, tells a tell of unique guile and bravery.

It shows a hole in the wing of Buge’s aircraft and a note with it revealing how his observer climbed out in mid-air and filled the gap with his boot so the wing wouldn’t crack.

Despite his service in the Great War, Buge was imprisoned as a political prisoner at the notorious Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin, by the Nazis in the Second World War.

It is estimated that 30,000 inmates died there due to poor conditions, executions and medical experiments.

Notes with this photo explained how Buge's navigator climbed out of this cockpit mid-air to plug this hole, in the wing of their plane, with his boot

Notes with this photo explained how Buge’s navigator climbed out of this cockpit mid-air to plug this hole, in the wing of their plane, with his boot

An incredible photo album, showing his time flying over France during the Great War was discovered lying forgotten an in antique shop in Argentina (pictured, a photo from the album)

An incredible photo album, showing his time flying over France during the Great War was discovered lying forgotten an in antique shop in Argentina (pictured, a photo from the album)

Buge used his position as an inmate clerk to copy information and gather evidence of the SS atrocities from the books he worked on and managed to smuggle papers out.

But tragically, he killed himself in 1950 after the German authorities deprived him of the status of the politically persecuted and the associated pension.

Pictured: German First World War pilot Emil Buge during his service in 1918

Pictured: German First World War pilot Emil Buge during his service in 1918

His notes were not published until 2010, when a book called 1470 Concentration Camp Secrets was released on a small scale.

It revealed names and details of the murders that took place at the camp against homosexual prisoners and more than 10,000 Russian PoWs who were executed in the space of 10 weeks.

Buge’s archive of photos and documents was found in Argentina by a pilot staying in the country for work.

It has small stickers added in more recent decades with Spanish translations of the captions under the photos, presumably by a previous owner.

It is not known how the album ended up in South America.

Klaus Butschek, from German auctioneers Ratisbon’s said: ‘This grouping is something really rare and exciting.

‘Emil Buge’s photo album is a treasure trove of imperial aerial history.

Buge’s picturebook shows fascinating images of aerial warfare, including crashed biplanes, German aviators and scenes from the battlefields

Pictured: Aerial photos taken by the talented pilot during service in France in the final year of the Great War

Pictured: Aerial photos taken by the talented pilot during service in France in the final year of the Great War

‘The photo album was set up by Buge personally after World War One. It was found in an antique store in Argentina recently and, as far as we are aware, it has never before been available on the market.

‘The album is so important as it not only contains a large amount of photos all related to one pilot but also all his flight books and service books.

‘Many things noted in his documents are confirmed by pictures. That is common to find in WW2 groupings, but not to WW1 pilot groupings.

‘The information he added to the photos is extremely rare and interesting in terms of unit research as well. A lot of names and dates are provided.

‘His never-published personal notes about his life as a pilot certainly bring this grouping to life.’

Pictured: This photo of the wreckage of a plane was also found in Buge's fascinating album

Pictured: This photo of the wreckage of a plane was also found in Buge’s fascinating album

Buge kept very detailed records and his logs reveal he made 305 flights, totalling 75 hours and 14 minutes, including 37 enemy missions (pictured, his log books)

Buge kept very detailed records and his logs reveal he made 305 flights, totalling 75 hours and 14 minutes, including 37 enemy missions (pictured, his log books)

Before the First World War he had been a poster designer and book author. He served from 1915 but didn’t join the German air force until 1917, training on an Albatros biplane and passing his test on February 4, 1918.

He kept very detailed records and his logs reveal he made 305 flights, totalling 75 hours and 14 minutes, including 37 enemy missions.

The last front mission he did was October 19, 1918 when he was forced to perform an emergency landing because of a problem with his engine.

Many of Buge’s plane crash pictures are captioned with the word ‘todessturz’ meaning ‘fatal plunge’ and followed by the names of those killed.

There are also two type-written booklets written by him, a 16-page one about his training to become a pilot and the other, 42 pages, about his front service time in France.

The archive is being sold in an online auction which ends tomorrow (Mon). It is likely to sell for £5,000.



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