Radio La Boisselle - The Interviews

Radio La Boisselle is a fictitious radio station. However, the interviews are based on actual newspaper reports of the time and the basic information contained in the interviews is factual and genuine. The radio's guests were also active at the Front at the time of the interview. In some cases responses have been embellished to make interviews more interesting.

Interview: Flying Ace Oberstleutnant Ernst Freiherr von Althaus, July 18, 1916

Good morning Somme, from Radio la Boisselle, coming to you this morning from our position near Albert. Good morning to our brave troops in the field!

Oberstleutnant Freiherr von Althaus

This morning we bring you an interview with hero and flying ace Oberstleutnant Freiherr von Althaus.

RLB: Herr Oberstleutnant, on July 3, you shot down your 7th enemy aircraft. You are becoming something of a national hero. What are your thoughts this morning on the situation here at the Somme? 

FvA: The situation is extremely tough, and our men are performing absolutely heroically. Many feats are simply beyond imagination. It is almost impossible to describe the situation to our loved ones in the homeland.

RLB: Of course, the entire landscape in this area seems to have been almost irreparably changed. 

FvA: Yes, the village of Ovillers is quite simply one large pile of dust. As you will have seen yourself, nothing has been left standing and nothing higher than 2 feet tall is protruding from the ground. All traces of houses have disappeared.

RLB: But the underground basements still exist? 

FvA: Yes, these large basements are where our men are holding out against the storm attacks and bombardments. The machine guns are also being kept down there.

RLB: What about the morale of the English?

FvA: From what I have experienced, they are as tough, persistent and courageous as our own men, and will fight to the bitter end. I heard that in a recent battle, the English did not yield until only 1 officer and 6 men were left.

RLB: How do you think the English Offensive will continue?

FvA: I think that the main goal of the English is to exert continuous pressure to make the Germans nervous and to make them uncertain of where the next strike can be expected.

RLB: La Boisselle is in English hands, but we are still able to broadcast from Ovillers, even though very little is left of it. 

FvA: However, Biaches and La Maisonette have been recaptured. That was an unpleasant surprise for the French.

RLB: Indeed it was. Herr Oberstleutnant, many thanks for this interview. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors.


Interview: War Reporter Georg Queri, July 12, 1916

Good morning Somme, from Radio la Boisselle, coming to you this morning from our position near Ovillers. Good morning to our brave troops in the field!

News just coming in, we hear that an English Colonel has fallen. Colonel Machell of the Scottish Border Guards was a distant relative of His Majesty the Kaiser.

This morning we once again bring you an interview with war reporter Herr Georg Queri.

RLB: Herr Queri, you are reporting here at the Somme for the Berliner Tagesblatt, but this morning you've been taking a look at the international press. What do the other papers say this morning?

Georg Queri, War Reporter Berliner Tagesblatt

GQ: I have been taking a look at the English newspapers. The Daily Mail, for example, reports that 90% of all English losses in the current offensive have been caused by German machine gun fire.

Then we have some news here from the Daily Telegraph, which reports: Once the German position at Estrees had been completely destroyed by French shelling, the Germans retreated from the town, leaving only 3 batteries behind, in other words, 12 four-inch guns. The gun crew fired until the last second - none of them wanted to surrender, and they all died fighting. Very sad news.

RLB: Let us take a moment of respect for them. I see you also have the Swiss newspapers. What do they report?

GQ: Yes, I'm looking here at the "Baseler Nachrichten", which reports that various signs at the border indicate that preparations for the extension of the [English-French] Offensive are being carried out at the French Front section near Belfort. It says: Early on Sunday morning at 4.15, the population was suddenly woken from sleep by the distant detonations of flak guns. In the eastern quarters of Belfort, the flashing of shots could be observed. Shortly afterwards, fire brigade sirens could be heard in the streets and the people got ready to go down to their basements. 

RLB: So the Offensive is now being extended as far as Belfort?

GQ: It appears to be in full progress. At 4.25 on Sunday morning, a tremendous detonation was heard and 5 minutes later a second one, just as strong. The regularity of the shots, which could now be heard at intervals of between 2 and 5 minutes, indicated to the population that it was not bomber planes but canons, which they recognized from previous times. The shelling lasted 20 minutes.

RLB: Herr Queri, many thanks for your time this morning and we look forward to speaking with you again soon.


Interview: Generalleutnant Hermann von Stein, July 6, 1916

Good morning Somme, from Radio la Boisselle, coming to you this morning from our position near Thiepval. Good morning to our brave troops in the field!
This morning we bring you an interview with His Excellency Generalleutnant Hermann von Stein, commander of the XIVth Reserve Corps, General of the Artillery and Minister of War.

Generalleutnant von Stein

RLB: Your Excellency, you and your Corps are located in the area of Thiepval, at the very center of the British attacks. What news can you give us this morning?

GLHvS: Artillery activity has definitely increased between the coast and Ancrebach. And further combat is taking place between Ancrebach and the Somme, as well as further south.

RLB: What about the advances of the English army?

GLHvS: The enemy did achieve minimal advances at Thiepval, but these have been reconciled by counter-attacks. 

RLB: Can you tell us anything about the state of the villages of the Somme valley, and the Aisne?

GLHvS: Well, we have cleared the village of Hem, in the Somme valley. The French themselves have taken Belloy-en-Santerre and our forces are currently fighting for Estrees. The French gas attacks have thankfully been unsuccessful. As for the Aisne, the enemy has been unsuccessfully attacking at the narrow Front south of Lille-en-bois, and has simply suffered heavy losses in the attempt.

RLB: How about the Maas and Fort Thiaumont? We have been hearing of very bloody battles in these regions.

GLHvS: Yes, your reports are correct, although to the left of the Maas, only minor infantry battles resulting in our favor took place. And to the right of the river, enemy advances to the south-west of Fort Baux were also repelled, as well as the attempt to recapture the "High battery of Damloup".
As for Fort Thiaumont, we captured 274 prisoners there two days ago.

RLB: We received news just now that one of our military hospitals has been bombed. Can you give us any details?

GLHvS: Yes, early this very morning, to the south-east of Chambrai, an enemy plane flew in at low altitude and dropped a bomb on a hospital train. Unfortunately, 16 of our wounded were killed.

RLB: Your Excellency, thank you very much for your time today and we look forward to speaking again soon.


Interview: War Reporter Georg Queri, June 30, 1916

Good morning Somme, from Radio la Boisselle, coming to you this morning from our position at Mametz Wood. Good morning to our brave troops in the field!
This morning we bring you an interview with war reporter Herr Georg Queri.

RLB: Herr Queri, you are here at the Front reporting for the Berliner Tagesblatt. Can you give us an overall view of what the papers are currently saying regarding the English activity?

Near Mametz Wood
GQ: Currently interesting and what I find worthy of note is a criticism by the English newspaper The Times, in which it remarked that France is now observing the English battlefront with greater interest than its own troops. In England, the mood is completely calm, in contrast to the excitement in France.

RLB: And what is the reaction of the French newspapers?

GQ:  Well, according to the Petit Parisien, the lively activity of the English artillery along the northern French Front is the sole discussion in parliamentary circles. The members of parliament who were able to speak with Briand after his return from the English headquarters informed their colleagues about the unusually strong resources to which General Haig currently has access.

RLB: The French are following this activity very closely of course.

GQ:  Indeed. The French newspaper Exzelsior [sic: Excelsior], which is known for documenting the war in detail, states that the French are following the preparations of their allies for battle with complete confidence. They realize how difficult it will be, as the enemy (German) fortifications have been continuously intensified over 18 months, with a large number of well-trained armed forces defending them.

RLB: Herr Queri, many thanks for this interview and we look forward to speaking with you again soon.

Interview: Flying Ace Hauptmann Oswald Boelcke, June 29, 1916

Good morning from Radio La Boisselle, coming to you this morning from La Boisselle itself. Good morning to our brave troops in the field!
This morning we bring you an interview with national hero and flying ace Hauptmann Oswald Boelcke.

RLB: Herr Hauptmann Boelcke, you have recently been awarded Germany's highest military medal, Pour le Mérite, for your achievements. Just two days ago you shot down your 19th enemy aircraft. Can you describe your emotions this morning? What is your advice to our brave infantry heroes in the field?

Oswald Boelcke (ca. 1916).jpg
HOB: I cannot deny that my experiences to date have been exhilarating and motivating. However,  as you know, the dangers of the "ace race" - the number of victories we pilots achieve - have very recently been brought home to me. My rival Oberstleutnant Max Immelmann was recently shot down on June 18th after his 17th victory.

RLB: Let us take a moment of respect for Oberstleutnant Immelmann - a true hero. However, his death left you, with 18 victories, the preeminent war ace. What did this mean for you?

HOB: First of all, the Kaiser himself ordered me grounded for one month. His Excellency did not wish me to be lost so closely after the death of Oberstleutnant Immelmann. 

RLB: You did, however, return to combat. In future, do you already know what steps you will consider?

HOB: Yes, I did return to combat and shot down a Nieuport plane over Douaumont two days ago. That was my 19th victory. However, I have in the meantime reported to the aviation chief of staff, Oberstleutnant von der Lieth-Thomsen, and I understand that I will in future be providing advisory services.

RLB: You have become known as the "Gentleman Pilot" after you shot down a British B.E.2c biplane with two crew. Can you tell us how that came about?

HOB: Yes, on January 5th this year I shot down this biplane of the No. 2 squadron. It was crewed by Lieutenant William Somervill and Lieutenant Geoffrey Formilli. I maintained contact with both men when they were hospitalized and I delivered a letter Formilli wrote informing people that he was still alive. He also wrote, "It was Boelcke who brought us down". That brought a smile to my face, despite the unfortunate circumstances. As a result of my interest in the delivery of the letter, a newspaper dubbed me the "Gentleman Pilot".

HOB: Herr Hauptmann Boelcke, many thanks for this interview. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

[Editor's note: Hauptmann Oswald Boelcke, the "Gentleman Pilot", was shot down on October 28, 1916, dying at the age of 25]

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