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Medals of RAF hero who dreamed of taking on Red Baron only to be killed when they met

The medals of a World War One airman who pledged to fight German air ace the Red Baron, only to be shot down and killed by him weeks later, have been sold at auction for £18,000.

British Major Richard Raymond-Barker, 23, described his desire to engage famous Baron Manfred von Richthofen after receiving the Military Cross from King George V at Buckingham Palace.

Two months later, on April 20, 1918, he got his wish when his Sopwith Camel plane was spotted by the famous flyer who had shot down 78 Allied aircraft at that point.

However, the Red Baron flew his red Fokker triplane in behind the Sopwith and brought it down making Maj Raymond-Baker, who had six kills to his name, his 79th and final victim.

The Red Baron would claim an 80th victim, after shooting down Second Lieutenant David Greswolde Lewis on the same day, but he miraculously survived.

The next day, von Richthofen himself was shot down and killed over the Somme.

British Major Richard Raymond-Barker, 23, was a decorated British flying ace from World War One and was the final man killed by legendary German pilot the Red Baron

Now 101 years on, Maj Raymond-Baker’s gallantry medals, including his MC, have sold at auction for £18,000.

His medal group were sold by London auction house Spink & Son.

They sparked fervent bidding and achieved a hammer price of £15,000. With extra fees added on the overall figure paid by the successful bidder was £18,000.

Marcus Budgen, head of the medal department, said: ‘The medals of Major Raymond-Barker are simply so moving.

‘A gallant ace and fearless leader in his own right, he had scored six victories against enemy aircraft whilst commanding No 3 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, during the Great War.

‘Having met King George V to be presented with his Military Cross, Raymond-Barker had written how he hoped to face the Red Baron in action.

‘That chance came on April 20, 1918, a few days before his 24th birthday.

‘But Raymond-Barker became the Baron’s 79th, and final fatal, victim, for the Red Baron was himself shot and killed just 16 hours later.

‘We had high hopes for a strong price for such a hero and so it proved.’

Maj Raymond-Barker was born in London in 1894 and worked laying submarine cables on board a steamer ship before ending up on a farm in Canada.

Major Richard Raymond-Barker Military Cross, 1914-15 Star, British War and Victory Medals

Major Richard Raymond-Barker Military Cross, 1914-15 Star, British War and Victory Medals

At the outbreak of the war, he returned to Britain to enlist in the Middlesex Regiment, but he wanted to learn to fly, training in his spare time at his own expense.

He served in France as a soldier from November 1915 to August 1916, when he was seconded to the RFC, gaining his ‘wings’ two months later.

Maj Raymond-Barker was decorated with the MC for stoically taking photos of enemy positions during reconnaisance flights despite repeated attacks by enemy aircraft.

On May 20, 1917, although badly outnumbered, he shot down two Albatros D. III fighters in quick succession.

His MC citation, in the London Gazette, September 17, 1917, read: ‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when leading a fighting patrol.

‘He attacked a large hostile formation, destroying two of them.

‘He has also done excellent work in leading distant photographic reconnaissances, notably upon two occasions when his skilful leadership enabled photographs to be taken of all the required hostile area in spite of repeated attacks from enemy aircraft.

‘He has helped to destroy seven hostile machines and has at all times displayed conspicuous skill and gallantry.’

Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron. He is perhaps the most famous fighter pilot of all time

Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron. He is perhaps the most famous fighter pilot of all time

A painting from the Red Baron's last battle, as he is downed and killed on April 21, 1918

A painting from the Red Baron’s last battle, as he is downed and killed on April 21, 1918

On his fatal outing, he was flying a Sopwith Camel D6439 as part of a No. 3 Squadron offensive patrol when six Fokker triplanes, the dreaded Jasta 11 ‘flying circus’, were spotted east of Villers-Bretonneux in the Somme.

They focused their efforts on von Richthofen in his red triplane, firing 100 rounds into its fuselage and 150 rounds into the cockpit, but to no avail.

And while Maj Raymond-Barker was pursuing another Fokker, the Red Baron came on to his tail and shot him down.

The Red Baron’s combat report stated: ‘With six planes of Jasta 11, I attacked a large enemy squadron.

‘During the fight I observed that a triplane was attacked and shot at from below by a Camel.

‘I put myself behind the adversary and brought him down, burning, with only a few shots.

‘The enemy plane crashed down near the forest of Hamel where it burned further on the ground.’

The Red Baron claimed one more ‘kill’, his 80th, immediately after taking out Maj Raymond-Barker.

But the pilot, Second Lieutenant Lewis, whose plane crashed just 60 yards from Maj Raymond-Barker’s, somehow emerged unscathed.

Maj Raymond-Barker is commemorated on the Arras Flying Services Memorial.

His medal group consists of the Military Cross, 1914-15 Star, British War and Victory Medals.

Who was Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron? 

Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen (2 May 1892 – 21 April 1918), was a fighter pilot with the German Air Force during WWI and was credited with 80 air combat victories. 

Commonly known as Red Baron, he is perhaps the best-known fighter pilot of all time. 

He originally served as a cavalryman before transferring to the air force in 1915.

In 1917, he became leader of ‘Richthofen’s Circus’, which was distinguished for its bright colours.

Von Richtofen was christened the Red Baron because many of his successes were in aircraft painted bright red, initially an Albatross

Von Richtofen was christened the Red Baron because many of his successes were in aircraft painted bright red, initially an Albatross.

Von Richtofen was christened the Red Baron because many of his successes were in aircraft painted bright red, initially an Albatross

In a flying career which spanned less than three years, the Red Baron shot down 80 allied aircraft, making him the top scoring fighter pilot of the Great War.

Von Richtofen was christened the Red Baron because many of his successes were in aircraft painted bright red, initially an Albatross. 

His final 19 victories were at the controls of a red Fokker Dr.I triplane. 

Von Richthofen was killed in the final year of the conflict at the age of 25 after being shot down in Northern France. 

On April 21, 1918, the Red Baron crashed on Australian-held territory on the Somme with a fatal bullet in his chest.  

he Focker triplane flown by Legendary German fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen known as the 'Red Baron'

he Focker triplane flown by Legendary German fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen known as the ‘Red Baron’

He was almost certainly shot down by Australian machine gunners but no one can say for sure.

The RAF credited Arthur Roy Brown, a Royal Naval Air Service lieutenant, for killing Richthofen although there have been a number of theories over the years which have tried to disprove this. 

In the century since his death, the Red Baron has become perhaps the pre-eminent Great War figure in popular culture, featuring in books and movies, pop songs and even a cartoon strip.   

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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