July 7/12

today's weight: 170

Manfred von Richthofen

Back on November 11, I wrote a post on the great Canadian WWI flying ace Billy Bishop. Well, here's the man from the other side: the famous Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen. Credited with 80 aerial victories (to Bishop's 72), von Richthofen was the top ace of WWI. For what it's worth, he was also better looking than Bishop (I'd say). However, Bishop survived the war; Richthofen did not.

Von Richthofen was, of course, a nobleman. As a child he hunted and rode horses. He entered military training as a pre-teen, then the flying service in 1915. Among his many exploits, he did engage Billy Bishop in aerial combat on April 30, 1917. Both aces survived the confrontation.

Less than a year after his brush with Bishop, von Richthofen was shot down over France. Canadian Captain Arthur Roy Brown was credited with the downing, but other theories have emerged suggesting that Australian anti-aircraft gunmen may have done it. Also, it is believed that Richthofen was vulnerable because of brain damage he had sustained on July 6, 1917. Back on that day, Captain Donald Cunnell of the RFC No. 20 Squadron shot the Baron down, but didn't kill him. Although Richthofen managed a safe landing behind German lines, he went into convalescence for a month and a half - it probably should have been much longer, but he was a young man in wartime. Supposedly, Richthofen was never the same following that injury.

Cunnell himself was killed a few days later.

Manfred von Richthofen, the war made you great, but also took your life. You remain in our hearts, whichever side our ancestors happened to be on. Even as a very young child, I knew the name "Red Baron".

Wikipedia was a source for this article.

Manfred von Richthofen:  The Red Baron Back