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The Von Richthofens Show Off for Their Father

red baron

A Good Day for the Whole Family

On 29 April of 100 years ago, Manfred von Richthofen had a very good day when his father came to visit. At the time, Manfred's brother Lothar was flying with him (Lothar was an accomplished ace in his own right, but of course is mainly known for being the Red Baron's brother.)

Most fathers would be a bit concerned to have two sons flying around in these crazy contraptions, with other aviators shooting at them, no less. But the Red Baron greeted his father with "Hello Papa, I have just shot down an Englishman." and said his father's main reaction was being sorry he himself couldn't get up there and do some shooting. (Or not. As the Red Baron put it, "at least I believe that." So maybe the statement was more for the patriotic German reader, with the Red Baron hoping rather than knowing that the elder von Richthofen was excited about his sons' aerial hunting expeditions. His father did get to see a dogfight right over them, concluding with a wrecked German airplane and dead machine gunner, the sight of which made the father "more serious.")

Later in the day, the Red Baron went up with his brother and others, and both von Richthofens scored a victory. "I flew near my brother and waved congratulations to him. We were satisfied and flew off. It is nice when one can fly with one's brother." The Red Baron attacked yet another Englishman and "there was a faint trail of smoke, the sure sign of a hit in the fuel tank, then a bright flame, and he disappeared below."

By the end of the day, the Red Baron had scored four victories and his brother two. The total, as he said, added up to a whole squadron. It was an impressive day even by Richthofen standards. At the end of the day,"I believe the English [who had recently formed what he called the "Anti-Richthofen Squadron"] were unsympathetic toward us." You can follow the Red Baron's exploits of 100 years ago in The Red Baron: The Fabled Ace's Story in His Own Words.

By the way, did you know there is a Richthofen Castle in Denver that belonged to the Red Baron's uncle, and in fact in the previous generation that uncle was a developer in Denver? But Richthofen Castle doesn't look quite as impressive as Manfred's quarters during April 100 years ago (picture from the Roads to the Great War blog, staff of which have just been touring Europe. And you should see the post about doughboys later famous for other things like Henry Stimson as in Secretary of War, Edwin Hubble as in the telescope, and Jay C. Hormel as in the original kind of Spam.)

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