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Remembered Today:

Being shot down by the Red Baron


Kev627

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Was it considered almost an honour to be shot down by the Red Baron in WW1?

Did any pilots claim it must have been the Red Baron who shot them down to try and save face or was he viewed by pilots of the RFC as just another German pilot?

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The official now-RAF view might be glimpsed by the fact that the news of his death led the Communique for 21 April 1918, mentioning that he "is credited by the enemy as having brought down 80 Allied machines." A separate entry on Captain Brown's engagement with "a red triplane" follows a little further down. So probably not 'just another German pilot.'

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Here's the entry from the Watsonian War Record for Douglas Victor Gillespie, who doesn't actually appear in the list of MvR's victims:

"The youngest son of Mr. G. Gillespie, Edin., was born in 1897, and attended G.W.C. 1908-15. He was studying for the veterinary profession, and enlisted in the R.A.V.C. in 1916. Transferring to the R.A.F., he completed his training and was gazetted 2/Lt. in Feb. 1918. Attached to the Military Wing, he saw some stirring fighting in France, and proved himself an intrepid airman. He was shot down by the world-famous Richthoven, and killed instantaneously Apr. 6, 1918."

Rather suggests that the some sort of credit (in the minds of his family at least) attached to being shot down by the other side's top ace.

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a pilot from Coventry was shot down by the red baron how close would a pilot have had to be recognise the red barons plane or would it looked exactly the same as other pilots. ie would a pilot know they were in conflict with the Baron

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Was it considered almost an honour to be shot down by the Red Baron in WW1?

Did any pilots claim it must have been the Red Baron who shot them down to try and save face or was he viewed by pilots of the RFC as just another German pilot?

Your question suggests you don't know that most RFC pilots shot down didn't get to be chatting to their mates about whodunnit. A family coping with tragedy might clutch to such a claim, if it could be asserted, as a sad consolation.

Regards,

MikB

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MikB, I do realise a lot of pilots shot down would have been killed or captured but I know some survived.

OK, but the number of pilots surviving shoot-down who could realistically make such a claim must have been tiny.

Regards,

MikB

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a pilot from Coventry was shot down by the red baron how close would a pilot have had to be recognise the red barons plane or would it looked exactly the same as other pilots. ie would a pilot know they were in conflict with the Baron

Was his plane not bright red?

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Seeming as most British planes were shot down behind German lines where the majority of late war air fighting took place owing to British air superiority over the front itself, even if you survived it would be hard to save face with your Squadron mates, unless they were in the same POW camp

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The aerial war does seem to be treated differently by the media and censors; the Red Baron's notoriety (and others) was well publicised. Take this French wartime publication:

post-48281-0-85504800-1357068506_thumb.j

It list aces of all sides; the Germans here:

post-48281-0-14103700-1357068579_thumb.j

Yet further on in the same publication it still portrays the great defeat of the Colonial Corps in August 1914 as a victory:

post-48281-0-45671500-1357068701_thumb.j

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ln their old age many RFC veterans claimed theyd tangled ,or been shot down by,the Red Baron.

Look at the writing of Arch Whitehouse for somene who basked in "reflected glory"

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Rather like some Luftwaffe pilots downed when engaged with Fighter Command during the Battle Of Britain attributing their loss to a "Spitfire"

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It's quite natural for anyone who has been defeated in an activity to believe that the winner must have been someone special, hence it seems that many surviving Allied pilots who had been shot down attributed their loss to the best known German airman. Something that would have added to the idea is the red used to distinguish the aircraft of Jasta 11, the fighter unit first under von Richthofen's command. Anyone shot down by any German aeroplane with red prominent in its colour scheme could quite naturally believe that MvR was their victor.

Gareth

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Was his plane not bright red?

I would imagine the percentage of the survivors who actually saw what or who shot them down was low, if attacked out of the sun you definately would not be distinguishing to much colour. I think other airman and cross referencing claims to losses probably identified more of his victims than victims observation. Probably more chance of a two seater crew member getting a glimpse than most pilots.john

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We still have this contemporary newspaper cutting, marking his final victory, probably printed a day or two after his death and cutout of a newspaper near Heilly, France.

post-66620-0-52889400-1357174590_thumb.j

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Oh, I didn't think he (Gillespie) was, because he's not on the lists of MvRs victims I found. The point I was making was that his family were taking some sort of comfort, credit, call it what you will, from claiming him as a victim of the "celebrity" MvR, no doubt in the honest belief that that was the case, although with the benefit of hindsight it appears he wasn't. I assume the belief might have been made on the basis of letters they received from the CO and/or his colleagues (who seem to have omitted the detail that he had come down in flames, and told them that he had been killed instantaneously). Maybe he was in the same sort of vicinity as MvR and they told the family that it was MvR who had done for him precisely because they would probably take some confort from that belief.

Thanks for your post though and for asking the question on the other forum because I was hoping someone might be able to tell me the answer!

Edited by pierssc
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