Mystery Solved of Who Killed the Red Baron — Again???



Lieutenant Donald Fraser, pictured here standing by the Red Baron’s grave, wrote the account of his death

An eye-witness account describing the final moments of the fearsome German flyer known as the Red Baron has emerged for sale. Could this solve once and for all the mystery over who did kill the ‘ace of aces’?  Manfred von Richthofen who was credited with a staggering 80 kills in the war, was shot down as he chased a British Sopwith Camel plane over the River Somme near Amiens in France at just 400ft from the ground.


A document, outlining the final few moments has emerged and is being auctioned by Bonhams in New York on Wednesday.

The account now for sale from Lieutenant Donald Fraser describes how von Richthofen’s plane was ‘wobbly and irregular’ immediately after the machine gun operated by Sgt Cedric Popkin opened up on him. The German plane crash landed and the pilot was found to be dead having been shot through the chest. Carleton Place’s own Captain Roy Brown was officially credited by the RAF with the coveted ‘kill’ after pursuing the German upon seeing a comrade in the Sopwith being tailed by him.

In 2002 two separate TV documentaries – one by Channel 4 in the UK and the other by the Discovery Channel – claimed Popkin and Lewis gunner Willy Evans respectively had fired the fatal shot. But Fraser’s typed account states:

“I congratulated Sergeant Popkin on his successful shoot but afterwards found out that two A.A Lewis Guns…had also fired at this plane when it was directly over my head. They probably assisted in sealing the fate of this airman as he apparently flew right into their lines of fire. However, I am strongly of opinion that he was first hit by Sergeant Popkin’s shooting as he was unsteady from the moment of that first burst of fire.”

There has been a lot of controversy as to who did indeed shoot him down and this document is a fairly strong piece of evidence to support the case of Cedric Popkin. But in the scheme of things, does it really matter who shot him down?

This impressive collection relating to the Red Baron reflects the mystique and legendary reputation acquired by the German flying ace which has endured long past his death in battle at the age of 25. Mr Lamb said that the piece of aircraft skin, that measures 34ins by 22ins, was a reciprocal gift from von Richthofen’s widow to a Colonel Kimbrough Brown who presented her with a copy of his 1964 book, ‘Von Richthofen and the Flying Circus’.

Col Brown’s family sold it to a private collector over 25 years ago and the collector is now selling it.

The items are being sold by Bonhams in New York on Wednesday.

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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