236 RED BARON War Memorial 14 8 04

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Information about 236 RED BARON War Memorial 14 8 04

Published on February 28, 2008

Author: Gabir

Source: authorstream.com

DID AUSTRALIANS SHOOT DOWN THE RED BARON?:  Dr Thomas Faunce Australian National University, Senior Lecturer Medical School and Lecturer Law Faculty DID AUSTRALIANS SHOOT DOWN THE RED BARON? Who Shot Down the Red Baron: Overview:  Who Shot Down the Red Baron: Overview To revisit the period of aerial combat in WWI and Australia’s involvement on the Western Front in that conflict To explore the forensic evidence surrounding the death of the Red Baron To highlight whether Australian soldiers were not given their due and explore why Take Home Message:  Take Home Message "Success flourishes only in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance." Manfred von Richthofen “one should never obstinately stay with an opponent which, through bad shooting or skillful turning, he has been unable to shoot down while the battle lasts until it is far on the other side", Manfred von Richthofen General Points With Documenting Injuries:  General Points With Documenting Injuries Aim to contribute to a reconstruction of the circumstances in which the injuries occurred Third party present Treat history with scepticism Recreate understanding of the type of weapon used and nature of trauma The Somme Valley Near Corbie, WWI:  The Somme Valley Near Corbie, WWI Slide6:  Corbie and Hamelet near the Somme River and Canal, St Colette brickworks chimney in the background Slide7:  On 21 April the Germans were concentrating troops and supplies around Le Hamel as part of their push on Amiens. They would attack on 24 April and be repulsed by the Australians at Villers Bretonneux to the south west of Le Hamel. Slide8:  By April 21 1918, the Red Baron had shot down 80 Allied aircraft The Red Baron:  The Red Baron Poulainville Aerodrome, France 1918:  Poulainville Aerodrome, France 1918 You are a medical officer with No3 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps in the Somme Valley at Poulainville on 21 April 1918. At about 5pm a body is brought to a hangar at your aerodrome for an autopsy. You are told the dead pilot is Manfred von Richthofen and he was flying an all red Fokker triplane when he crashed near Corbie. An examination of the body is to be held. The body is washed by an orderly and the first superficial postmortem examination was made by a panel of doctors. The panel consists of yourself, Colonel T Sinclair, consulting surgeon to the Fourth army, Captain G C Graham, RAMC and Lieutenant G E Downs, RAMC, attached to the Air Force. Newton, however, refers to the presence also of Colonel J A Dixon, consulting physician to the British Fourth Army.   Death of the Red Baron:  Death of the Red Baron Australian soldiers bearing Richthofen’s Body Souvenir of the Baron’s Triplane:  Souvenir of the Baron’s Triplane Red Baron’s Flying Boot:  Red Baron’s Flying Boot Red Baron’s Control Column:  Red Baron’s Control Column Medical History:  Medical History The Military Intelligence Service provides you with the following medical history. Von Richthofen entered the cadet corps on April 18, 1903, aged almost 11 years. His previous medical record showed a history of measles, chickenpox, and rubella. Eyesight was examined yearly and remained 6/6 throughout his brief career. The medical record for that period is unremarkable with the exception of a minor injury to the right knee on June 12, 1909,. On Sept 4, 1915, while flying on a bombing mission, when trying to point out where the bombs had hit, he grazed the little finger of his right hand on the propeller. Recently, while attacking an allied bomber, was briefly paralysed and blinded when a bullet struck his skull. Testimony From Captain Brown:  Testimony From Captain Brown Captain Roy Brown DSC a Canadian pilot flying with the Royal Air Force tells you: “There is no doubt that von Richthofen followed a Sopwith Camel, flown by a relatively novice Canadian pilot, Lt Wilfred May, down from a dogfight that occurred when two British photographic reconnaissance R.E. 8 aircraft were attacked by von Richthofen’s Jasta west of Hamel. Lieutenant May, who had been told by Brown that he should observe any action, but should run for home if attacked, was seen by von Richthofen and pursued. According to his instructions May dived away and flew low over the Australian lines, flying down the valley of the Somme, closely pursued by Richthofen. I saw the chase and dived from behind on von Richthofen’s triplane at about 11 AM.” Slide21:  RE8 from 3rd Australian Squadron at Poulainville preparing to take off in morning mist to photograph German troops assembling around Le Hamel Last Picture of the Red Baron Alive:  Last Picture of the Red Baron Alive Cockpit of Sopwith Camel:  Cockpit of Sopwith Camel The Sopwith Camel was Dangerous in Inexperienced Hands:  The Sopwith Camel was Dangerous in Inexperienced Hands Aerial Photo Taken by Australian RE8 Moments Before the Red Baron Attacked:  Aerial Photo Taken by Australian RE8 Moments Before the Red Baron Attacked Le Hamel Corbie Slide29:  Lieutenants Garrett and Barrow in A3661 and Lieutenants Simpson and Banks in RE8s from No 3 Sq AFC at 10.45am on 21 April 1918 at 7,000 ft while photographing Germans placements over Hamel, fought off nine DRI Triplanes before hiding in a cloud. The Red Baron’s left machine gun jammed and he rolled away. Cockpit of the Red Baron’s Fokker DrI:  Cockpit of the Red Baron’s Fokker DrI Captain Roy Brown’s Testimony:  Captain Roy Brown’s Testimony   Brown tells you “I was in a perfect position above and behind. ... neither plane, (Richthofen or May) was aware of me ... I had dived until the red snout of my Camel pointed fair at his tail. My thumbs pressed the triggers. Bullets ripped into his elevator and tail planes. The flaming tracers showed me where they hit. A little short! Gently I pulled back on the stick. The nose of the Camel rose ever so slightly. Easy now, easy. The stream of bullets tore along the body of the all-red tripe. Its occupant turned and looked back. I had a flash of his eyes behind the goggles. Then he crumpled - sagged In the cockpit ... Richthofen was dead. The triplane staggered, wobbled, stalled, flung over on its nose and went down. The reserve trenches of the Australian infantry was not more than 200 feet below. It was a quick descent. May saw it. I saw it as I swung over. And Mellersh saw it."   Slide32:  MAY”S SOPWITH CAMEL RED BARON”S FOKKER TRIPLANE BROWN”S SOPWITH CAMEL Slide33:  Captain Brown’s Camel attacked the Red Baron from left and behind Slide34:  RED BARON’S TRIPLANE CAPTAIN BROWN”S SOPWITH CAMEL Captain Brown then flew away to the south-west Slide35:  Morlancourt Ridge Vaux-Sur-Somme: Richthofen almost hits church Brown breaks off the engagement and heads south west Popkin CRASH SITE Slide36:  The Red Baron continued to chase May’s zig-zagging Camel, firing just a few shots at a time from his right machine gun with the broken firing pin. He almost crashed into the church at Vaux-sur-Somme. Many Australian infantrymen began to shoot at his aircraft with their .303 rifles. Slide38:  Red Baron’s Triplane suddenly pulled up sharply as he turned back from the Morlancourt Ridge near where the 24th Australian machine gun company was stationed Slide39:  The Red Baron’s Triplane then side-slipped down to a field and he switched the engine off Slide40:  The Red Baron made a bumpy landing by a silver beet pie near the Sainte Colette brickworks Summary of Medical Testimony So Far:  Summary of Medical Testimony So Far A Smith (RAMC MO). 21/4/18. 1720hrs 30 yo male (deceased) from aircraft crash Past medical history unremarkable Tests NAD Recent minor head injury Shot down by Canadian pilot Multiple bullet wounds in corpse Routine Autopsy to follow Documenting the Autopsy:  Documenting the Autopsy You perform an autopsy and note the details on AH File No. 21/13/506 “We examined the body of Captain Baron von Richthofen on the evening of the 21st instant. We found that he had one entrance and one exit wound caused by the same bullet. The entrance wound was situated on the right side of the chest in the posterior folf [sic] of the armpit; the exit wound was situated at a slightly higher level near the front of the chest , the point of exit being about half inch below the right nipple and about three-quarter of an inch external to it. From the nature of the exit wound we think that the bullet passed straight through the chest from right to left, and also slightly forward . Had the bullet been deflected from the spine the exit wound would have been much larger. The gun firing this bullet must have been situated in the same plane as the long axis of the German machine and fired from the right and slightly behind the right of Captain von Richthofen. Sgd A Smith Capt. RAMC MO i/c 22nd Wing RAF Sngd G. E. Downs Lieut. RAMC. In the Field 22/4/18   Forensic Conclusion: Canadian Captain Roy Brown Killed the Red Baron:  Forensic Conclusion: Canadian Captain Roy Brown Killed the Red Baron Forensic evidence: single bullet wound; likely trajectory of bullet; testimony of Captain Brown; consistent medical history Mechanism of Injury: Sopwith Camel:  Mechanism of Injury: Sopwith Camel Manufacturer:Sopwith Aviation Engine:Bentley BR.1, 150 hp Wing Span:28 ft Length:18 ft 8 in. Height:8 ft 6 in. Empty Weight:889 lb. Gross Weight:1,422 lb.Max Speed:118 mph.Ceiling:19,000 ft. Endurance:2.5 hours. Crew:1 Armament:2 Vickers .303 machine guns (2F.1) Travers’ New Evidence:  Travers’ New Evidence Later that evening, after your report has been filed, an Australian officer, Lieut. Travers, Company 52nd Bat AIF, enters and gives you this history: “von Richthofen did continue to follow May down the Somme valley at a low altitude. He appeared to be completely absorbed in his chase and, as he came within range, came under fire from Australian anti-aircraft machine guns. As he came to the hill, Lieutenant May, hugging the ground contours, rose to clear the rise and flew on in a straight line after passing it. The red triplane, still following May, also rose to clear the hill but then came under Lewis gun fire from the 53rd and 54th Batteries. It then performed an Immelman turn to return back to the German lines.   A New Source of Injury:  A New Source of Injury Slide48:  LEWIS GUN USED BY THE AUSTRALIANS Caliber:  .30 cal (US), .303 cal (UK), 6.5 &8mm (France), 7.7mm (Japan), 7.62mm (Russia) Length:  49.2 in Length of barrel: 26 in  Weight:  27 lb Magazine:  47 or 97 rd overhead drum Sights:  Post front, ladder rear Action Type:  Gas operated Range: Rate of fire: 450 rpm Muzzle velocity: 2800fps (US .30 cal) Ammo: Ball, tracer Manufacturer:  US, UK, Belgium, Japan, Estonia, Holland, Lativa, Portugal, Russia Travers’ Shocking Testimony:  Travers’ Shocking Testimony Travers says “I was observing near 11th Brigade HQ when he heard planes approaching from the direction of 26 central, and heard a Vickers gun firing from the ground. The first plane that came into view was one of our own, and less than 20 paces behind him was an enemy plane painted red. The red plane was overhauling our plane fast and both were flying so low that they almost crashed into trees at the top of the hill. Almost directly over the spot where I was lying the enemy plane swerved to the right so suddenly that it seemed almost to turn over. Our plane went straight on, from that moment the enemy plane was quite out of control and did a wild circle and dashed towards J.19.b.34 where it side-slipped and made a bumpy landing. I went over with other officers and had a look at the plane and also the driver. Documenting Symptoms of Stage III Shock (30-40% volume loss (1500-2000mls)):  Documenting Symptoms of Stage III Shock (30-40% volume loss (1500-2000mls)) “He was bleeding from the mouth and gasped for water. He was breathing fast.He looked pale and was anxious, confused and then drowsy. His pulse was fast and he felt cold. Suddenly he said “Alles Kaput” (“It is all over for me. I’m finished” and soon after he died. A machine gun bullet had passed from the left side of his face and near bottom of jaw and came out just behind the right eye. The Vickers gun mentioned was the only gun firing at the time the driver first lost control of his machine. I made enquiries and found the gun was handled by No. 424 Sergt. Cedric Basset Popkin, 24 Australian Machine Gun Company, situated about 1000 yards west of the village of Vaux on the northern bank of the Somme River.” Did You Get the Documentation Right?:  Did You Get the Documentation Right? Australian Lewis Gunners The Second Autopsy:  The Second Autopsy You tell your senior officer that you have new evidence that suggests the first autopsy was inaccurate. Colonel Sinclair writes the following in file No. 21/13/506 “We have made a surface examination of Captain Baron von Richthofen and find that there are only the entrance and exit wounds of one rifle bullet on the trunk. The entrance wound is on the right side about the level of the ninth-rib, which is fractured, just in front of the posterior axillary line. The bullet appears to have passed obliquely backwards through the chest striking the spinal column , from which it glanced in a forward direction and issued on the left side of the chest, at a level about two inches higher than its entrance on the right and about in the anterior axillary line. There was also a compound fracture of the lower jaw on the left side, apparently not caused by a missile - and also some minor bruises of the head and face. The body was not opened - these facts were ascertained by probing from the surface wounds. (Sgd) Thomas Sinclair Colonel AMS Consulting surgeon IV Army BEF The Red Baron’s Fatal Bullet:  The Red Baron’s Fatal Bullet What Major Structures Could the Bullet Have Hit and With What Consequences?:  What Major Structures Could the Bullet Have Hit and With What Consequences? Right and Left Lung: pneumothorax (if under tension death could take approx 15 minutes) Pulmonary artery and pulmonary vein, aorta, IVC: haemorrhage (death in approx some minutes depending on size of laceration [cardiac output is 5L/minute and blood volume is 5-6L]) Pericardium and Myocardium (death in a few minutes) Rib fracture (death may not follow) Bronchus (death may not follow) Forensics:  Forensics 0.303 Mark VII rifle bullet with Spitzer-type nose. Used in Vickers and Lewis machine guns. From entry wound bullet tumbles and creates a permanent cavity of pulped tissue If bullet strikes skin perpendicularly its sharp point will make a neat, round hole with equally distributed inner abrasions If angle of impact is not perpendicular hole will be progressively unequal Exit wound depends on spinning rpm at impact and how far it has travelled through tissue, or been deflected by bone Bullet Evidence:  Bullet Evidence When a human body is hit, there's an explosive effect called hydostatic shock which can be revealed by ballistics tests. The closer the bullet's range, the greater the wound damage. So the fact the wound could be probed tends to indicate a long-range shot. Also, the fact the bullet was found intact inside the clothing of Richthofen is another indicator that it was a long-range shot, probably 600 yards plus." The Red Baron’s Chest X-Ray:  The Red Baron’s Chest X-Ray Your medical post is fortunate to have an advanced x-ray apparatus. This is the Red Baron’s x-ray. How would you document these injuries? The Red Baron in Death:  The Red Baron in Death Common Errors in Medical Testimony in Chest Wall Injury and Shock:  Common Errors in Medical Testimony in Chest Wall Injury and Shock No notes taken Examination incomplete No record of precise times of tests/procedures/notification of surgeon No record of precise times of crucial observations No care to consider differential diagnosis History not “problem-oriented” in acute setting Not recording precise fluid input and output Inaccurate description of wounds/procedures WHAT IF NOTHING VITAL WAS HIT AND THE RED BARON DIED AS A CONSEQUENCE OF HIS PRIOR HEAD INJURY? (chronic subdural causing acute raised intracranial pressure) Australians at the Red Baron’s Funeral:  Australians at the Red Baron’s Funeral Key Points:  Key Points Evidence suggests Australian gunners, probably Cedric Popkin, shot down the Red Baron Popkin, from Cloncurry west of Townsville, was little known even to his relatives, who could not recall his age or when he died, but remembered him as a kindly and quiet man. Like Brown, he did not appear to have talked about the incident in later life. Gail Popkin, a 49-year-old former RAAF officer, knew her relative had been involved in shooting down the Red Baron."I always knew the truth would come out and it would make Sergeant Popkin famous. I'm so pleased and proud of him."

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