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Lancashire Fusilier

Von Richthofen's twin Spandau MGs - where are they ?

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Lancashire Fusilier

Does anyone know what became of Manfred Von Richthofen's twin Spandau machine guns which were removed from his tri-plane after his crash and death ?

I am attaching 2 photographs showing the 2 machine guns shortly after their recovery from the crash site.

The 3 officers examining the machine guns were also Wreath Bearers at his funeral.

LF

post-63666-0-49126800-1347802362_thumb.j

post-63666-0-20214200-1347802378_thumb.j

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Lancashire Fusilier

The Wreath Bearers at Von Richthofens funeral were :-

left to right - Capt. T. Leigh Simpson, Lt. Malcolm Sheehan, Lt. Frank Mart and Lt. George Pickering.

post-63666-0-75158700-1347802679_thumb.j

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Khaki

Hi LF,

For some reason, I thought that they were in the Australian War Museum in Canberra, I can't qualify that, must have read it somewhere.

regards

khaki

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Lancashire Fusilier

Hi LF,

For some reason, I thought that they were in the Australian War Museum in Canberra.

khaki

Thanks khaki, I shall check that out.

Regards,

LF

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David  B

I suppose they could be in the AWM but to be honest cannot remember ever seeing them and I have been to the museum dozens of times (being a local).

They could of course be stored at their storage centre and out of sight.

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Lancashire Fusilier

I suppose they could be in the AWM but to be honest cannot remember ever seeing them and I have been to the museum dozens of times (being a local).

They could of course be stored at their storage centre and out of sight.

David,

Many thanks for the info.

As the Australians had control of his body and his Tri-Plane, I would have assumed they had first dibs on the parts.

I have seen his fur flying boots which he was wearing, and his plane's control stick and other parts on display in Australia, but I have never seen nor heard of these matching Spandau machine guns ?

Regards,

LF

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David  B

LF,

nothing comes up on a google search, the AWM does have some small bits and pieces, referred to in your post, but where the MG's are I don't have a clue.

Cheers

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Tom W.

LF,

nothing comes up on a google search, the AWM does have some small bits and pieces, referred to in your post, but where the MG's are I don't have a clue.

Cheers

Everything was scavenged by souvenir hunters. The only thing that remained in official hands was the engine, which is in the Imperial War Museum.

Every now and then scraps of fabric from the triplane come up for auction, and they're always from someone's great-grandfather's estate. I'm sure the guns are in two attics or mounted over two fireplaces somewhere.

Not a single photo has ever surfaced of the crash scene, and nobody knows what happened to the baron's personal effects. Everything was stripped until the triplane looked like a post-Thanksgiving turkey carcass.

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tim_oz

The AWM does have at least one Spandau on display but its not attributed to Richthofen's plane and if it was I would have expected it to be with the other bits they have which are all displayed together.

Tim B

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Wexflyer

nobody knows what happened to the baron's personal effects.

Baron Von Richthofen's Pour Le Merite and other medals are on display in the Aviation museum in San Diego, along with a reproduction of his plane. IIRC correctly, the original medals are fire damaged, so they have reproductions as well as the originals on display.

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Tom W.

Baron Von Richthofen's Pour Le Merite and other medals are on display in the Aviation museum in San Diego, along with a reproduction of his plane. IIRC correctly, the original medals are fire damaged, so they have reproductions as well as the originals on display.

I meant his scarf, leather jacket, boots, and whatever he had in his pockets.

And unfortunately the medals at the San Diego Aerospace Museum aren't Richtofen's.

http://www.theaerodr...html#post167031

The medals have disappeared, probably taken by the Soviets in 1945. They wouldn't have been fire damaged by the crash, since the plane didn't burn. Richtofen was shot in the chest and lived long enough to crash land in a field. He was still alive when the diggers reached him but died almost immediately afterward.

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Stoppage Drill

His boots were pinched in the tender as his body was being moved, by an Australian called Potter or Porter IIRC (I'll check) and Potter/Porter swapped footwear. Somehow or other in later years, P/P ended up with only one boot, which he offered to Richthofen's mother in 1937, but she declined to accept it with the reason that she had no way of knowing for certain that it was her sons.

A silk scarf which was said to be MvR's was in the collection of PJ Carisella who died a few years ago. He also had the goggles which - it is claimed - MvR took off at the moment he was hit and threw out of the cockpit. I believe the collection was auctioned off in early 2005, and broken up. I don't know where these things are now, and some experts doubted their provenance whilst in Carisellas collection.

The bullet which killed MvR exited his left chest, but failed to penetrate his jacket. It was picked up by a medical orderly called McCarty during the preparation for the post mortem. I believe that it was thrown away by his family when he died.

MvR's body was exhumed from the Bertangles grave in about 1921, and initially reburied at Fricourt. Then the Nazis grabbed him away to Berlin in the '30's. Carisella claimed that he found remains in the Bertangles site when he excavated it in the early '60's.

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Wexflyer

The signage at the San Diego museum is quite clear. They have two sets of medals on display. A set which they state was originally Von Richtofens, and which are fire damaged. The fire damage was not war related, but occurred in a fire in the museum itself. Then there is a second set, of reproductions, which they show so as to see what the undamaged medals are like. I think the fact that they display the damaged medals shows that these must be originals - if the fire damaged medals were themselves just reproductions for the museum, then surely they would have been discarded, and only the new replacements shown? My interpretation of what happened is as follows - the fire at the museum was back in 1978. After the fire, only the replacement/reproduction medals were on display for several years, without the fire damaged originals. During this period, when only the reproductions were on display, visitors would have been told (correctly) that they were reproductions, not originals.

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Tom W.
I think the fact that they display the damaged medals shows that these must be originals - if the fire damaged medals were themselves just reproductions for the museum, then surely they would have been discarded, and only the new replacements shown?

No, you misread the link. A member of the board of directors of the museum said that the medals were genuine, but they weren't the baron's. He was quite clear. Greg van Wyngarden is one of the leading experts on World War I German aviation. As he said, the display was genuine and very expensive, but not von Richtofen's.

I'd like to see the wording of the signage. If it said, "The medals awarded to von Richtofen," that could mean they were the type awarded him, not the originals. If they said, "The actual medals awarded von Richtofen," that would leave no room for debate.

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Lancashire Fusilier

I spoke this afternoon to the Curator at the San Diego Air & Space Museum, San Diego, California, USA., and he stated that all Manfred Von Richthofen's original awards and decorations were donated to the San Diego Air & Space Museum directly by a member of the Von Richthofen family, his recollection is that it was Manfred Von Richthofen's Grand-daughter.

He confirmed they are the original set and are not duplicates or replicas, and they are undamaged and in excellent condition as Manfred Von Richthofen rarely wore them, and they were kept at his family home in Germany.

The set at the Museum also includes his ' Pour le Merit ' award.

He mentioned that the German Government, had previously asked the Museum if they would be willing to return the set back to Germany.

A list of Manfred Von Richthofen's awards and medals are :-

Orden Pour le Merit - Prussia

Order of the Red Eagle, 3d class, w/Crown & Swords - Prussia

Iron Cross, 1st Class - Prussia

War Merit Cross, 1st Class – Lippe

Order of Bravery, 4th Class – Bulgaria

Imtjaz Medal, w/Swords – Turkey

Liskat Medal, w/Swords – Turkey

War Medal (aka Iron Crescent/Gallipoli Star) – Turkey

Pilot’s Badge – Prussia

Pilot’s Badge – Austria-Hungary

Worn on the Order Bar:

Iron Cross, 2nd Class – Prussia

Order of the House of Hohenzollern, Knight’s Cross w/Swords – Prussia

Military Order of St Henry, Knight’s Cross – Saxony

Order of the house of Ernestine, Knight’s Cross, 1st Class w/Swords – Saxony

Order of Military Merit, 3d Class, w/Crown & Swords – Bavaria

Order of Military Merit, Knight’s Cross - Wurttemburg

Duke Carl Edward Medal, w/Swords on Band – Sax-Coburg-Gotha

General Honor Medal for Bravery – Hessen

Cross for Faithful Service – Schaumburg-Lippe

War Merit Cross, 2nd Class – Brunswick

Wound Badge - Prussia

Hanseatic Cross - Lubeck

Hanseatic Cross - Bremen

Hanseatic Cross - Hamburg

Order of the Iron Crown, Knight’s Cross, w/War Decoration – Austria Hungary

LF

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David  B

LF,

An impressive array of orders and decorations indeed. But we are still looking for his aircrafts missing guns I take it. ?

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Lancashire Fusilier

LF,

An impressive array of orders and decorations indeed. But we are still looking for his aircrafts missing guns I take it. ?

David,

Yes, very much so.

At one point I was hopeful, as that same San Diego Museum has a WW1 ' Spandau ' aircraft machine gun on display. However, when I spoke with them today, they were able to confirm that it did not come from Manfred Von Richthofen's plane.

The search continues.

Regards,

LF

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Waddell

LF,

This is from an older book written by an American called "The day the Red Baron died" by Dale M Titler. I can't vouch for its accuracy but I picked it up locally where there is a bit of interest in MVR as Robert Buie was a local man and is buried near here.

P.143-44- "How the fur lined boots- as well as the machine guns- were later recovered by No.3 Squadron's salvage crew officer is not clear, but it was Lieutenant Warneford who later donated one boot to the Australian War Memorial. And McDiarmimid volunteered: "My Battalion had Richtofen's guns in their posession for a short time..but they were handed over to the R.A.F."

"The guns were temporarily stacked- or hidden- in the 7th Platoon gun pit where Corporal Homewood pilfered one of the sights, much to the later consternation of the A.F.C crew who discovered the loss."

Your second photo shows the machine gun on the right is missing a sight?.

The men named were Corporal J Homewood of the 44th Battalion A.I.F. Lieutenant N.J Warneford the Equipment Officer of No.3 Squadron A.F.C and Ray McDiarmid (not sure of Battalion).

Hope that is of interest- as I said I'm not sure of the accuracy of the book.

Scott

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Lancashire Fusilier

Scott,

Many thanks for the very interesting information, and it appears the 2 machine guns were handed over to the RAF., so the logical place for them to end up, assuming they were kept, would be the Imperial War Museum or the Royal Airforce Museum ?

Regards,

LF

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David  B

Franks and Bennetts book "The last flight of the red baron"merely says that the two machine guns were recovered and they both disappeared shortly afterwards. No further comment on their

whereabouts forthcoming from the book.

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Dolphin

The 1964 publication von Richthofen and the Flying Circus by H J Nowarra and Kimbrough S Brown (the book was the authoritative source at the time) simply says that what happened to the two machine guns remains a mystery.

Gareth

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Stoppage Drill

Carisella says that the two guns were numbered 695 and 1795 (no notes to hand, doing this from memory). The "locks" were removed from both before they were dismounted fom the DR1, and Carisella had that missing sight and the lock to 695 in his possession in the 1960's. His collection was sold off in 2005, after his death.

The guns were last seen dismounted from the plane on 22 April at the RFC airfield at Poulainville (?) (NOT Bertangles) and disappeared overnight. Given that an awful lot of stuff from the plane was cut up for souveniers (the prop ended up in about fifty pieces, and the gun belts were similarly chopped up) then it's possible that the guns were similarly treated.

In 1968 Carisella stated that he thought the guns, or parts, were in Australia and Canada; I would not be too surprised if Roy Brown had one - to the victor the spoils - and immediately after the downing of MvR his was the only claim that was being treated seriously (and being officially backed by the 3-week old RAF.) Maybe Carisella felt unable to actually say that the gun, or parts, were with Browns family ?

I think that is Brown in service dress holding a wedge shaped bit of fuselage in the first photo in this topic. There is another taken at the same time showing him holding one of the guns.

Brown died in Ontario - is there a trail there ? ? ?

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Tom W.

I spoke this afternoon to the Curator at the San Diego Air & Space Museum, San Diego, California, USA., and he stated that all Manfred Von Richthofen's original awards and decorations were donated to the San Diego Air & Space Museum directly by a member of the Von Richthofen family, his recollection is that it was Manfred Von Richthofen's Grand-daughter.

He confirmed they are the original set and are not duplicates or replicas, and they are undamaged and in excellent condition as Manfred Von Richthofen rarely wore them, and they were kept at his family home in Germany.

The set at the Museum also includes his ' Pour le Merit ' award.

He mentioned that the German Government, had previously asked the Museum if they would be willing to return the set back to Germany.

So, a member of the museum Board of Directors says the medals are not the baron's, and the curator says they are. Googling it doesn't produce a straight answer. You'd think the museum would make it easy for us peasants to find the real story.

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Lancashire Fusilier

So, a member of the museum Board of Directors says the medals are not the baron's, and the curator says they are. Googling it doesn't produce a straight answer. You'd think the museum would make it easy for us peasants to find the real story.

Tom,

After seeing a video the MVR's medals on display at the San Diego Museum, I hoped that my speaking directly with the Curator, he would give me an accurate answer, so I called him directly, and his answer was " yes, they are MVR's, they are original and they were donated to the Museum by MVR's family ".

It is interesting, that apart from the San Diego Museum nobody else is claiming to have his medals and awards ?

MVR's possessions, including his plane's MGs, and his medals and awards are certainly shrouded in mystery!

Regards,

LF

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Tom W.

It is interesting, that apart from the San Diego Museum nobody else is claiming to have his medals and awards ?

Well, that goes for the guns, too. They're out there, but nobody's talking.

I'm willing to accept the curator's claim. It's just that I can't find a single article that states in plain English that the baron's family donated the medals to the museum. There are multiple references to the engine of Dr. I 425/17 being donated to the Imperial War Museum, but as for the medals, nothing.

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