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ISSUE 64 - May 2009
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Capt. Brown saw the Fokker DR1 Triplane It was at very low level and in close pursuit of the Canadian, Lt. Wilford May’s plane. Brown dove in to intercept, firing his Lewis gun. The Fokker DR1 Triplane suddenly pitch to the earth, landing flat with little damage. It was the aircraft of the Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen, on the ground near Sailly-le-Sac, France, an area of the Western Front occupied by Australian infantry.

Captain Brown never claimed the kill but some Australian gunners did, and their claim now seems borne up by later investigations.

The British Flying Core held a funeral for their late enemy. The casket bedecked in flowers, his body lay in state all day. Hundreds of British soldiers view the Red Baron. On the following day six RAF officers acted as pallbearers; there was a fourteen gun salute and thee services were conducted by the chaplain in full religious robes. The  bugler played "The Last Post."

Photographs were taken of the funeral and British planes dropped them over Richthofen’s squadron at Cappy accompanied by the message:


Rittmeister Baron Manfred von Richthofen was killed in aerial combat on April 21st, 1918. He was buried with full military honours.”

Richthofen's was put to his rest in a village churchyard at Bertangles, France.

But “Rest In Peace” would not come for many decades.

As with many wars, following the cessation of hostilities, War Graves Commissions are established, transferring many casualties to nation specific military cemeteries. So it was that the remains of Baron v. Richthofen were transferred to a German War Graves cemetery.

Then, On Nov 20, 1925, during the Weimar Republic, at the wish of the German government as well as a number of veterans' organizations, the Invalidenfriedhof in Berlin, the Prussian equivalent of the US Arlington National Cemetery, was to become the Barons new resting place.

The German Chancellor and the whole German cabinet were among the dignitaries attending Von Richthofen's reburial. The ceremony was to be seen as a symbol of homecoming to Germans everywhere buried in foreign soil and missing in action. It would seem that interned so prestigiously, the Baron would finally be at peace.

It wasn’t to be.

The Berlin wall went up in 1961 putting the famed Invalidenfriedhof within the demarcation zone in the Russian sector. It could now only be visited by special permission of the East Germans.

von Richthofen's brother, Bolko sought to move his brothers remains yet again. Perhaps in consideration of Baron v.Richthofen’s great fame among Germans, the East German government responded to his request to rebury the remains in the family burial plot in Wiesbaden. A reburial occurred four years later in 1975.

Perhaps the Red Knight of Germany has indeed found his final rest.

But his fame certainly has not. Dozens of books have been written and continue to be published chronicling his exploits, written by none fewer than the Baron himself as well as his own mother.

The Barons autobiography was written in 1917.

"Der Rote Kampfflieger"
The German title Der Rote Kampfflieger has also been variously translated as "Red Fighter Pilot" and "Red Battle Pilot." Where in Von Richthofen speaks from his own perspective of the fame and death that pervaded the lives of the “Knights of the Air.”

Baroness v.Richthofen’s tome did not appear until 1937.

Mein Kriegstagebuch - die Erinnerungen der Mutter des roten Kampffliegers (My War Diary - Memories of the Mother of the Red Fighter Pilot), by Kunigunde Freifrau von Richthofen, the Red Baron’s mother.

The narrative has been written by his mother who must have known the Baron better than anyone The photographic content of this book is spectacular in that it contains more than 40 pictures of the von Richthofen family…. Speaking of the family, few knew that the Barons uncle and godfather had lived many years in the United States. Baron Walter von Richthofen built the Richthofen Castle outside Denver Colorado in Montclair." Begun in 1883, it was not finished until 1887 and was modeled after the original Richthofen Castle in Germany.


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