Manfred von Richthofen “The Red Baron” 5.2.13 Thought of the Day


“Of course, with the increasing number of aeroplanes one gains increased opportunities for shooting down one’s enemies, but at the same time, the possibility of being shot down one’s self increases.” — Manfred von Richthofen

English: Photograph of Manfred von Richthofen,...

English: Photograph of Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron. Willi Sanke postcard #503 (cropped). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen was born on this day in Kleinburg, Breslau, Germany in 1892. today is the 121st anniversary of his birth.

He was the second child and the eldest son born to Major Albrecht Phillip Karl Julius Freiherr von Richthofen and Kunigunde von Schickfuss und Neudorff. The family was part of the Prussian aristocracy and lived a life of privilege. Manfred enjoyed horse back riding, hunting and gymnastics. He was home schooled until 11 when he entered the  Royal Military Academy at Lichterfelde.

“He was a better athlete than he was a scholar, and applied his horseback riding skills to become a cavalry officer.  He was commissioned in April 1911 in the 1st Regiment of Uhlans Kaiser Alexander III, and promoted to Lieutenant in 1912.” [First World War.com]

When World War One began he served as a reconnaissance officer for the cavalry. In May of 1915, after brief service as a dispatch runner in the trenches, he switched to the newly formed German Air Force. He was a natural aviator and “took his first solo flight after only 24 hours of flight training.” [Ibid] Richthofen flew an Albatross for a while, then he switched to the Fokker DR-1 Dridecker, a tri-plane with a  “Spandau” lMG 08 machine gun. His plane was painted red.

Deutsch: Nachbau der Fokker DR1 auf der ILA 20...

Deutsch: Nachbau der Fokker DR1 auf der ILA 2006. Manfred von Richthofen, genannt “Der Rote Baron”, flog dieses Modell im 1. Weltkrieg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“His success in the air led to his being named der Rote Kampfflieger by the Germans, le petit rouge by the French, and the Red Baron by the British.” [ Ibid]

In 1917 he was award the Pour Le Merite (aka “The Blue Max”) and was put in charge of an elite unit of German pilots nicknamed the Flying Circus. He personally racked up over 80 kills along the Western Front.

On July 6, 1917 He received a serious head wound. He passed out, but regained consciousness before the airplane hit the ground and was able to make a safe, if rough, landing in a farmer’s field. While recovering from the wound the German Airforce Press and Intelligence unit had him “write” an autobiography (that they promptly censored, polishing the image of the flying ace.) He was a national treasure and they didn’t want him to go up again (neither did the doctors), but The Red Baron ignored them, rationalizing that other German soldiers didn’t have the option of staying away from combat, and neither should he.

Manfred von Richthofen from Sanke card #450. T...

Manfred von Richthofen from Sanke card #450. The caption is Unser erfolgreichster Kampf-Flieger: Freiherr von Richthofen, which means “Our most successful fighter pilot: Baron von Richthofen”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He went back to active service at the end of July. On April 21 1918  he was shot down over Morlancourt Ridge near the Somme.

“A British pilot flew over the German aerodrome at Cappy and dropped a note informing the Germans of Richthofen’s death.  Buried in France by the British with full military honours, Richthofen’s body was later exhumed and reburied in the family cemetery at Wiesbaden.” [Ibid]

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About ritalovestowrite

Freelance writer, graphic designer, musician, foodie and Jane Austen enthusiast in Northern Baltimore County, Maryland. As a writer I enjoy both fiction and non fiction (food, travel and local interest stories.) As an advocate for the ARTS, one of my biggest passions is helping young people find a voice in all the performing arts. To that end it has been my honor to give one-on-one lessons to elementary, middle and high school students in graphic design and music. And as JANE-O I currently serve as the regional coordinator for JASNA Maryland and am working on a Regency/Federal cooking project. View all posts by ritalovestowrite

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