World War 1914 - 1918 A Pictured History Part 33

'Ill iiiniiiaini The Editor Chats With His Readers John Carpenter House, London, E.C.4 mimi i iii.b iiii i m a i i i a i i i a i i u m a i i n i i n m a i i i i i i n m i iniamai iiiflirai'i'aiiiBMdii an an aii a.i an'B'i Biii IB IllBlllBillBIIIKI W E were passing the pages of this Part (33) for press when I noticed some paragraphs in the “Daily Telegraph ”about the death of the famous German airman, Baron Manfred von Richthofen. Now it happens that in this particu­lar Part of World War there are three illustrations relating to Richthofen and his deeds, one being a photograph of the “ace,” another one of his so-called circus, while the third shows his funeral. The narrative has not yet reached the time of his death, which took place in April, 1918, but this will be mentioned in our last chapter on air warfare. Meanwhile, I may say something on the controversy, which has been ongoing for sometime, about the way in which he met his end. CHE first German account was to the effect that Richthofen was shot after he had landed, and this story was repeated in the “National Zeitung ”of Essen in April, 1935 That journal quoted the statement of a certain eye-witness, Herr Bink, late of the 3rd Grenadier regiment, who, after describing an air duel between the baron and a British airman, said :“Richthofen flew quite low. He was so engrossed that he did not notice that he was just above the enemy trenches. From these trenches he was greeted with a rain of bullets. Then he suddenly glided down quite smoothly and landed behind the enemy trenches. ...We saw him climb, living, from his plane. He was treacherously assassinated by bestial non- Europeans.” But who the “bestial non-Europeans ”were, Herr Bink does not say. ^FT ER quoting this extract from the “National Zeitung,” the “Daily Telegraph ”of April 24,1935, stated that last week another foreign newspaper published extracts from the diary of a German artillery observer which directly contradicts the account given by Bink. This observer says that Richthofen “came down at an angle of 45 degrees, striking the ground so violently that his machine broke in two.” He concludes by stating that no man could possibly have survived such a crash. CHE earlier account of the airman’s death is also contradicted from a British source. In March of this year (1935) the “British Legion Journal ”stated that the man responsible for the death of the Red Knight, as Richthofen was called, was Gunner Robert Buie, formerly of the 53rd battery, Australian field artillery. A solicitor in Brisbane discovered the report of a staff officer which agave vivid description of the aerial battle and identified the pilot who lost his life as Richthofen. Published in a Sydney newspaper, this brought forth other letters, and in one of these it was stated that Sir Henry Rawlinson, then commanding the 4th army, sent a telegram of congratulation to the 5th Australian division, to be passed onto the 53rd battery of the Australian field artillery. It ran as follows :To 5th Australian Division Following from Gen. Rawlinson :Begins. A.A.A. Please convey to the 53rd Battery. 5th Division, my best thanks and congratulations on having brought down the celebrated German aviator Richthofen. IYIessage ends. RAVING read this account, I turned to the fourth volume oi “The War in the Air,” the official account of the work of the Royal Air Force, which deals with the events of 1917 and 1918, and was published in 1934. Therein I found along and interesting account of the death of Richthofen, the credit for which is given to a Canadian airman, Captain A.R. Brown. On April 21,1918, having left his aerodrome near Cappy, Richthofen came into contact with two flights of Camel aeroplanes led by Brown. A sharp fight ensued between these machines and the German Fokkers. During this, Brown himself, diving down to help a comrade, caught Richthofen “in a position from which few pilots, no matter how skilled or confident, could expect to escape.” Machine- guns were fired, and it seemed to Brown, ashe flew away, that Richthofen machines zigzagged to the ground inside the British lines. Captain Brown’s own account, written before he knew who his opponent was, read as follows :“Dived on large formation of 15-20 Albatros scouts D.5 and Fokker triplanes, two of which got on my tail and I came out. Went back again and dived on pure red triplane which was firing on Lieut. May. 1 got along burst into him and he went down vertical and was observed to crash by Lieut. Mellersh and Lieut. May I fired on two more but did not get them ."IN the part of the line over which this combat took place were some Australians in charge of anti-aircraft guns. They fired their Lewis guns at the Fokkers, which also came under fire from some other Australians, who were in charge of a Vickers gun mounted for anti-aircraft work. Both the Lewis and the Vickers gunners claimed the credit of sending out the fatal shot, one of the former being Gunner R. Buie, who is referred into the above account. To settle the matter, if possible, the body of the dead pilot was examined by four medical men. Their reports showed that Richthofen was struck by one bullet only, which entered the right side of the chest and issued on the left side at a level two inches higher than its entrance. There was evidence that the bullet had been deflected from the spine, but on this point the medical reports were not in agreement. The gun firing the bullet, said the reports must have been “situated roughly in the same plane as the long axis of the German aircraft and fired from the right.” and the medical officers were agreed that the entrance and exit wounds were such that they could not have been caused by a bullet fired from the ground. After a careful examination of these and of all other reports, the official decision was that Richthofen was killed by a bullet from the machine-guns of Captain A.R. Brown SOME little time ago a paragraph in these Notes gave some details of the daily ration issued to British troops at the front. It maybe compared, by those interested, with the German ration. This consisted at first of 500 grammes (say 1 • I lb.) of meat 750 grammes (1*65 lb.) of bread, which is rather meatless and rather more bread than the British one, and various extras. Special economy was not insisted on until the beginning of the winter of 1915-16, when the number of rations demanded by units was carefully scrutinized. The meat ration was then cut down to 320 grammes (nearly \lb.), and at the close of the winter to 250 grammes (just over \lb.). In April, 1917, the bread ration was cut down from 750 to 500 grammes (1*1 lb.). Part 34 of WORLD WAR on Sale Everywhere, Thursday, June 27th
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