Person:Manfred von Richthofen (1)

Captain Manfred Albrecht von Richthofen
d.21 Apr 1918 Somme, France
Facts and Events
Name[1] Captain Manfred Albrecht von Richthofen
Alt Name[1] Red Baron
Alt Name[1] German Ace-of-Aces
Alt Name[5] Rittmeister Freiherr Manfred von Richthofen
Gender Male
Birth[6] 2 May 1892 Breslau, Schlesien, Preußen, Germany
Military[6] 1911 Silesia, Austria1st Regiment of Uhlans
Reference Number? Q4701?
Death[1][5] 21 Apr 1918 Somme, Francenear Corbie
Military[2][4] GermanyWorld War I German Pilot, leader of the "Flying Circus" squadron, had 80 confirmed kills
Alt Burial[3][11] Germanyfirst buried in France, then body moved to Germany
Military[4] Germanycavalry trooper before transferring to the Air Service
Residence[6] Kleinburgk, Sachsen, Germany
Education[6] Schweidnitz, Schlesien, Preußen, Germany
Education[6] Wahlstatt, Schlesien, AustriaInstitution of Lichterfelde
Burial[3] Francefirst buried in France, then body moved to Germany

Biographical Summary

source: Wikipedia

Video Tributes

"The Red Baron - master of the air"
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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Red Baron's Family, Victims Toast 100th.

    2017. "Red Baron's Family, Victims Toast 100th." Military History 33, no. 5: 12. Biography Reference Bank (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost (accessed April 5, 2018).

  2. Red Baron's Curse?.

    MICHAELS, DANIEL, and SARAH SLOAT. 2015. "The Red Baron’s Curse? Few Germans Remember Him. (Cover story)." Wall Street Journal - Eastern Edition, December 14. A1. Biography Reference Bank (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost (accessed April 5, 2018).

  3. 3.0 3.1 What You Might Not Know about World War I.

    VAUGHAN, DONALD. 2014. "WHAT YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT WORLD WAR I." Boys' Life 104, no. 7: 30. Biography Reference Bank (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost (accessed April 5, 2018).

  4. 4.0 4.1 Aces.

    Slayton, Robert A. 2014. "ACES." Calliope 24, no. 7: 12. Biography Reference Bank (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost (accessed April 5, 2018).

  5. 5.0 5.1 Gratest Air-Fighters of the War- the 'Circus Leader' Compared with Other 'Stars'.

    C. G. Grey. "Gratest [sic] Air-Fighters of the War- the 'Circus Leader' Compared with Other 'Stars' ".The Bridgeport times and evening farmer. (Bridgeport, Conn.), 14 June 1918. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Red Battle Flyer.

    by Manfred von Richthofer copyright 1918


    Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]), 23 April 1918. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>
    Captain Baron Von Richthofen, Premier of Teuton Fliers, Brings Down Last Allied Plane.
    (Associated Press.)
    London, April 22. Captain Baron von Richthofen, the famous German aviator, has been killed, Reuter's correspondent at British headquarters reports. The captain was brought down in the Somnic valley., His body was recovered and will be buried today with military honors.
    Since Captain Boelke was shot down in October, 1916, Captain von Richthofen has been the most prominent and successful German aviator.
    On April 8 the German war office announced that he had achieved his 78th aerial victory, although in this as in previous citations he was not credited explicitly with having brought down an allied airplane.
    Captain von Richthofen first came into prominence as leader of the "flying circus," a squadron of German aviators which fought in a peculiar circular formation, following each other around so that in case one was attacked the next flyer could sweep the antagonist from the rear.
    Recently Emperor William conferred upon him the Order of the Red Eagle.
    An official statement reporting aerial operations issued yesterday at Berlin said:
    "Baron Richthofen, at the head of his trusty chasing squadron, on Saturday gained his 79th and 80th victories." Denver, Colo., April 22. Captain Baron Max von Richthofen, famous German aviator, reported killed on the French front, was a nephew of Baroness Louise Richthofen, prominent socially in Denver.
    Baroness Richthofen was an English woman prior to her marriage and is one of the most active workers in Colorado for Belgium and other allied war relief work. It was she who originated the flag which is being sold all over the country for the relief of blind soldiers and sailors.

  8.   Von Richthofen's Last Air Battle.

    The evening world., September 10, 1918, Final Edition, Image 12
    The evening world. (New York, N.Y.), 10 Sept. 1918. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

  9.   RAAF Museum No. 3 Squadron.

    No 3 Squadron was involved in another unusual event on 21 April 1918 when two of its aircraft on a photographic mission were attacked by four German fighters led by Baron von Richthofen, the famous Red Baron. Despite the fact that these German pilots were the elite of the German Air Service, the lumbering Australian reconnaissance machines drove them off. Looking for easier pickings, the Red Baron made the mistake of descending to low level over the ANZAC front line, where he was shot down and killed. The Red Baron's body was subsequently recovered by No 3 Squadron and buried with full military honours. No 3 Squadron held the remains of his crimson red tri-plane in custody until they could be handed over to the authorities. Several components from the Red Baron's aircraft are now on display at the RAAF Museum. accessed 5 Apr 2018

  10.   Literary Digest: "Richthofen's own story of his famous air battles", pg 54-57, 20 Jul 1918 (accessed 5 April 2018).


    THE dispatches from the Front on
    July 3 told of an engagement between nine American airplanes and thirteen of Richthofen's old squadron, in which six
    of the German machines were brought down, while the Americans escaped unscathed. One can not help wondering - without detriment to the victorious Americans what the result would have been had Richthofen been alive and leading his famous organization which still retains his name although the airman was killed in April - for Richthofen was the greatest German flier.

    Richthofen wore the Order of Merit, bestowed by the Kaiser for more than twenty air victories, tho he is said to have brought down more than eighty French and English aviators. "If he could shoot as well as he maneuvers he would be invincible," was the tribute of one of his English rivals who begrudged him none of the credit for his daring and his wonderful control of Ins machine.

    When "The Red Devil." as Richthofen's red Fokker was called, was brought down behind the British lines the flier was found dead in the machine, He had been shot through the heart. And the English buried him with full military honors, and over his grave they placed these words:

    "A gallant and daring enemy."

    The following story of the experiences of Capt. Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen was written by the airman himself just after his fiftieth victory, and is reproduced in Pearson's Magazine. He tells of the destruction of the first Fokker in which he attempted to engage some enemy machines over the French lines:

    Suddenly my motor stopt working; nothing I could do would make it go on. I tried everything in vain; and the enemy machines were getting near me. I was helpless. I had to land right away in a field. I came down a great deal quicker than I wished. In a moment the beautiful machine was a mass of scrap-metal. The shock took away my senses for the moment, but when I got up and was able to move about I found I was not hurt. I had to wait some time to get a new machine. Then one day our new airplanes arrived and we were told that the great Boelcke was going i fly with us.

    All of us knew what Boelcke had done, and all of us were proud of going up with him.

    Before we started Boelcke collected us around him and gave us his final instructions, and for the first time we flew as a squadron commanded by the great hero whom we followed blindly.

    We had just reached the Front when we recognized a hostile flying squadron proceeding in the direction of Cambrai. Boelcke was, of course, the first to see it; he saw a great deal more than ordinary mortals. Soon we understood the position, and every one of us strove to follow Boelcke closely. It was clear to all of us that we should pass our first trial under the eyes of our beloved leader.

    We approached the hostile squadron slowly. It could not escape us. We had intercepted it, for we were between the Front and the opponents. If they wished to go back they had to pass us. We counted the hostile machines. They were seven in number. We were only five. All the Englishmen flew large bomb-carrying two-seaters. In a few seconds the dance would begin. I could have laughed for joy.

    Boelcke had come very near the first English machine, but he did not yet shoot. I wondered why. 1 followed. Close to me were my comrades. The Englishman nearest to me was traveling in a large boat painted with dark colors. I did not reflect very long, but took my aim and shot. He also fired, and so did 1, and both of us missed.

    My Englishman twisted and turned, going crisscross. I did not think for a moment that the hostile squadron contained other Englishmen who conceivably might come to the aid of their comrade. I was animated by a single thought: "The man in front of me must come down, whatever happens." At last a favorable moment arrived. My opponent had apparently lost sight of me. Instead of twisting and turning he flies straight across. In a fraction of a second I am at his back with my excellent machine. I give a short series of shots with my machine gun. I had gone so close that I was afraid I might dash into the Englishman. Suddenly I nearly yelled with joy. for the propeller of the enemy machine had now stopt turning. Horray! I had shot his engine to pieces. Me was compelled to land without loss of time, and it was impossible for him to reach his own lines.

    Richthofen's story reveals him as apparently callous and cruel, but he was seemingly appreciative of the gallant qualities of his opponents, speaking of the bravery of the Engish fliers as particularly noticeable. He wrote:

    During my whole life 1 have not found a happier hunting-ground than in the course of the Somme battle. In the morning, as soon as I had got up, the first Englishmen arrived, and the last disappeared only long after sunset. Boelcke once said that this was "the Paradise of the flying men."

    There was a time when Boelcke's bag of machines increased within two months from twenty to forty.

    Still, the Englishman is a good man. That we must allow. Sometimes the English came down to a very low altitude and visited Boelcke in his quarters, upon which they threw their bombs. They absolutely challenged us to battle and never refused a fight.

    Richthofen was flying with Boelcke on the day that the latter was sent down to his death, and he wrote thus of the last battle of his beloved leader:

    One day we were flying, guided by Boelcke, against the enemy. We always had a wonderful feeling of security when he was with us. After all, he was the one and only. The weather was a very gusty and there were many clouds. There were no aeroplanes about except fighting ones.

    From a long distance we saw two impertinent Englishmen in the air, Avho also seemed to enjoy the rotten weather. We were six and they were two. If they had been twenty, and if Boelcke had given us the signal to attack, we should not have- been at all surprized.

    The struggle began in the usual way. Boelcke tackled one and 1 the other. I had to let go, because one of the German machines got in the way. I looked around and noticed Boelcke settling his victim about 200 yards away from me.

    It will be the usual thing, I thought. Boelcke will shoot down his opponent and I shall have to look on. Close to Boelcke flew a good friend of his. It A\as an interesting struggle. Both men were shooting. The Englishman might fall at any moment. Suddenly I noticed an unnatural movement of the two German flying machines. Immediately 1 think: Collision. 1 had not yet seen a collision in the air. I had imagined it would look quite different. In reality what happened A\as not a collision. The two machines merely touched one another. However, with two machines traveling at the tremendous pace of flying machines, the slightest contact has the effect of violent concussion.

    Boelcke draws away from his victim and descends in large curves. I had not the feeling that he was falling, but when I saw him descending below me I noticed that part of his planes had broken off. I could not see what happened afterward, but in the clouds he lost an entire plane. Now his machine was no longer steerable. It fell, accompanied all the time by Boelcke's faithful friend.

    When we reached home we found the report: "Boelcke is dead!" We could scarcely realize the fact.

    Richthofen admitted that he was extremely proud when he brought down Major I law her, who was known in I many a-- the English [mmelmann, on November 23, 1916, and he wrote thus gaily of the battle:

    The Englishman tried to catch me up in the rear, while I tried to get behind him. So we circled round and round like madmen after one another at an altitude of about ten thousand feet. First we circled twenty times to the left, and then thirty times to the right. Each tried to get behind and above the other.

    I soon discovered that I was not fighting a beginner. He had not the slightest intention to break off the dance. He was traveling in a box which turned beautifully. However, my packing-case was better at rising than his. I succeeded at last in getting above and beyond my English waltzing partner.

    When we had got down to about six thousand feet without having achieved anything in particular, my opponent ought to have discovered that it was time for him to take his leave. The wind was favorable to me, for it drove us more and more toward the German position. At last we were above Bapaume, about half a mile behind the German front. The impertinent fellow was full of cheek, and when we had got down to about three thousand feet he merrily waved to me, as if to say: "Well, how do you do?"

    The circles which we made round one another were so narrow that their diameter was probably no more than 250 or 300 feet. I had time to take a good look at my opponent. I looked down into his carriage and could see every movement of his head. If he had not had his cap on I could have noticed what kind of a face he had.

    My Englishman was a good sportsman, but by and by the thing became a little too hot for him. He had to decide whether he would land on German ground or whether he would fly back to the English lines. Of course he tried the latter, after having endeavored in vain to escape me by loopings and such like tricks. At that time his first bullets were flying around me, for so far neither of us had been able to do any shooting.

    When he had come down to about 300 feet he tried to escape by flying in a zigzag course, during which, as is well known, it is difficult for an observer to shoot. That was my most favorable moment. I followed him at an altitude of from 250 to 150 feet, firing all the time. The Englishman could not help falling. But the jamming of my gun nearly robbed me of my success.

    My opponent fell shot through the head 150 feet behind our line. His machine gun was dug out of the ground, and it ornaments the entrance of my dwelling.

    Half in fun, Richthofen. when asked what his ambition was, replied that he would like to be the first of the cha» rs, and one day a telegram arrived which stated that a– 'Lieutenant von Richthofen is appointed Commander of the Eleventh Chasing Squadron." Two days later he received from the Kaiser the Order of Merit, and he wrote: "1 had never imagined that it would be so delightful to command a chasing squadron. Even in my dreams I had not imagined that there would ever he a Riehthofen's squadron of aeroplanes." The exhilarating effect of the order is reflected in his story, for he said:

    It occurred to me to have my packing case painted all over in staring red. The result was that every one got to know my red bird. My opponents al-o Boon seemed to have heard of the color transformation.

    I luring a fight on quite a different motion of the Front I had the good fortune to shoot into a Vickera two-seater, which was peacefully photographing the German artillery position. My friend the photographer had not time to defend himself. We had to make haste to get down upon firm ground, for his machine began to give suspicious indications of tire. When we notice that phenomenon we say: "He stinks!" It turned out if was really so. When the machine was coming to earth it burst into flames.

    When I had got down to an altitude of about 1,500 feet engine trouble compelled me to land without making any curves. The result was very comical. My enemy with his burning machine landed smoothly, while 1I, his victor, came down next to him in the barbed wire of our trenches, and my machine overturned.

    The two Englishmen, who were not a little surprized at my collapse, greeted me like sportsmen. They were the first two Englishmen whom I had brought down alive. Consequently it gave me particular pleasure to talk to them. I asked them whether they had previously seen my machine in the air. One of them replied: "Oh, yes. I know your machine very well." He added that the red aeroplane was known even to the troops in the trenches, who called it "Le Diablo Rouge" (The Red Devil).

  11. Manfred von Richthofen.

    Birth: 2 May 1892 Germany
    Death: 21 Apr 1918 (aged 25) Morlancourt, Departement de la Somme, Picardie, France
    Burial: Invalidenfriedhof, Berlin-Mitte, Mitte, Berlin, Germany
    Memorial #: 8682454
    Bio: German World War I Military Figure. He is best remembered as the famous "Red Baron" German fighter pilot and was the top ace of World War I with 80 combat aerial victories to his credit. He was born Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen in Kleinburg, near Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland), the 2nd of four children of a prominent Prussian aristocratic family where his father was a Prussian military officer. After being educated at home, he attended a school at Schweidnitz (now Swidnica, Silesia, Poland) and started his military training at the age of eleven. In 1911 he finished his cadet training and joined an Uhlan cavalry unit. When World War I broke out in 1914 he served as a cavalry reconnaissance officer both the Eastern and Western Fronts, where he saw action in Russia, France, and Belgium. With the was bogged down to trench fighting which made traditional cavalry operations outmoded, he became disenchanted with and requested a transfer to the army's supply branch. After viewing a German military aircraft behind the lines, he became interested in aviation and applied for a transfer to the Imperial German Army Air Service, later known as the Luftstreikrafte. From June to August 1915 he served as an observer on reconnaissance missions over the Eastern Front. After being transferred to the Western Front, he managed to shoot down an attacking French aircraft with his observer's machine gun over French lines but was not credited with the kill because it fell behind Allied lines and could not be confirmed. In October 1915 he entered pilot training and in March 1916 he joined the Kampfgeschwader 2 Squadron, flying a two-seater Albatross C.III aircraft. At the beginning he appeared to be a less than average pilot, struggling to control his aircraft and crashing during his first flight. However, he quickly became attuned to his aircraft and in April 1916 he downed a French aircraft over Fort Douamont, near Verdun, France, but did not receive any official credit for the kill. In August 1916 he was selected by German ace fighter pilot Oswald Boelcke to join his newly formed fighter unit, the Jagdstaffel 2 and the following month he won his first official aerial combat over Cambrai, France. On November 23, 1916 he downed his most famous adversary, British ace Major Lanoe Hawker after a long dogfight. In January 1917 after his 16th confirmed kill, he received the Pour le Merite (also known as "The Blue Max"), the highest military honor in Germany at that time. That same month he became a squadron commander and took the flamboyant step of having his aircraft painted red and other members of his unit followed suit in order to make him look less conspicuous and to avoid him being singled out in aerial combat. He led his new unit to unparalleled success, peaking during "Bloody April" 1917 in which he downed 22 British aircraft, including four in a single day. On July 6, 1917 he received a serious head wound in aerial combat near Wervicq, in northern France. Disoriented and temporarily blinded, he managed to pull his aircraft out of a free-falling spin and executed a rough landing in a field within friendly territory. After receiving medical treatment, he returned to duty on July 25th against doctor's orders but then went on convalescent leave from September 5 to October 23, 1917, during which time he completed an autobiographical sketch "Der Rote Kampfflieger," with an English translation published by J. Ellis Barker in 1918 as "The Red Battle Flyer." By 1918 he had become such a legend that it was feared his death would become a major blow to German morale. He continued flying combat missions after his convalescent leave and refused to take a ground job. On April 21, 1918 he was fatally wounded in aerial combat over Morlancourt Ridge, near the Somme River in France. In spite of receiving a fatal wound (a single bullet to the chest that that penetrated from the right armpit and exited next to the left nipple, severely traumatizing his heart and lungs), he managed to make a quick but controlled landing without any serious damage to his aircraft and died moments later at the age of 25. Although the British Royal Air Force credited Canadian pilot Captain Arthur "Roy" Brown with the kill, it is now generally agreed that the fatal bullet was fired by someone on the ground. After World War II, the Berlin Wall passed directly over his original grave site, and the family had the remains moved to Wiesbaden, Germany. He was immensely respected by friends and foes alike and when he was exhumed and reburied in Wiesbaden, he was given full military honors by both the Germans and British.
    Maintained by: Find A Grave
    Originally Created by: Geoff Walden (36505611)
    Added: 26 Apr 2004
    Citation: Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 05 April 2018), memorial page for Manfred von Richthofen (2 May 1892–21 Apr 1918), Find A Grave Memorial no. 8682454, citing Invalidenfriedhof, Berlin-Mitte, Mitte, Berlin, Germany ; Maintained by Find A Grave .