The Red Baron – Cause of Death.
The death of Baron Manfred von Richtofen in The Great War has been shrouded in mystery and falsities. On the day in question, 21st of April 1918, the Red Baron was chasing RFC pilot Lieutenant May around 10:45 in the morning. May, in his Sopwith Camel had flown low to get away from any pursuing aircraft and didn’t know who was on his tail, just that it was a red Fokker tri-plane. The dogfight went low over the Australian lines of the 53rd Australian Field Battery, 5th Australian Division. The Lewis gunners in that unit opened fire on the red aeroplane pursuing the British one, not even realising that the pilot was Australian as well.
The Fokker that The Red Baron was flying was hit repeatedly from groundfire and eventually went down. The British pilot, Captain A.R. Brown of 209 Squadron, claimed the kill and it was credited to him. The bullet that killed him was a .303, common enough at the time, but the extraordinary thing is from the medical evidence which shows conclusively that the bullet was that killed Baron Manfred von Richtofen was fired from the ground (entry wound at an upward angle) and it is attributed to Cecil Popkin of the 24th Machine-Gun Company, 53rd Australian Field Battery, 5th Australian Division. It was the Australians who gave him a burial with military honours.
This is only a summation of the event. You can read the full account in Patsy Adam-Smith’s book The ANZACs or C.E.W. Bean’s collection on the Australians in the Great War 1914-18.
So there you have it.
1. Eyewitness accounts
2. Forensic Medical Evidence
3. Positional and height verification of the event.
All showing irrefutably that The Red Baron was killed by a soldier on the ground.