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, France
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
Image Gallery
  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
    (It j Associated Preen.)
    London, April 22. Captain Baron
    von Richthofen, the famous German
    aviator, has been killed, Reuter's cor
    respondent at British headquarters re
    ports. The captain was brought down in
    the Somnic valley., His body was re
    covered and will be buried today with
    military honors.
    Since Captain Boelke was shot
    down in October, 1916, Captain von
    Richthofen has been the most promi
    nent 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 "fly
    ing 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 aer
    ial operations issued yesterday at Ber
    lin said:
    "Baron Richthofen, at the head of
    his trusty chasing squadron, on Sat
    urday gained his 79th and 80th vic
    tories." Denver, Colo., April 22. Captain
    Baron Max von Richthofen, famous
    German aviator, reported killed on the
    French front, was a nephew of Baron
    ess 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 al
    lied 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.   Con 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.   .

    Richthofen's own story of his famous air battles.
    Literary Digest; 20 Jul 1918, p54-57 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 un-
    scathed. One can not help wondering -
    without detriment to the victorious Amer-
    icans what the result would have been
    had Richthofen been alive and leading
    his famous organization which still re-
    tains 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 won-
    derful 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 repro-
    duced 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 mo-
    ment, 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 ma-
    chine. 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 instruc-
    tions, 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 pro-
    ceeding 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 posi-
    tion, 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 Avere
    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

    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 con-
    tained other Englishmen who conceiv-
    ably might come to the aid of their com-
    rade. 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 ap-
    parently 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 im-
    possible for him to reach his own lines.

    Richthofen's story reveals him as ap-
    parently callous and cruel, but he was

    seemingly appreciative of the gallant
    qualities of his opponents, speaking of the
    bravery of the Engish fliers as particu-
    larly 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 English-
    men 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 abso-
    lutely 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 im-
    pertinent Englishmen in the air, Avho also
    seemed to enjoy the rotten weather. We
    Avere 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 shoot-
    ing. The Englishman might fall at any
    moment. Suddenly I noticed an un-
    natural 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

    Boelcke draws away from his victim
    and descends in large curves. 1 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. 1
    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 ex-
    tremely 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 mad-
    men 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 fight-
    ing a beginner. He had not the slightest
    intention to break off the dance. He was
    traveling in a box which turned beauti-
    fully. However, my packing-case was
    better at rising than his. I succeeded at
    last in getting above and beyond my En-
    glish 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 oppo-
    nent. 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 fol-
    lowed 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 orna-
    ments 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 im-
    agined 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 (o me to have my packing
    case painted all over in staring red. The
    result was that every one go1 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 photog-
    rapher had not time to defend himself.
    lie 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 1 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 1, 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 1 had brought down
    alive. Consequently it gave me par-
    ticular pleasure to talk to them. I asked
    them whether they had previously seen
    my machine in the air. One of them re-
    plied: "Oh, yes. I know your machine
    very well." He added that the red aero-
    plane 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 .