In Stimmen aus den Schütengräben #7 we deal again with aerial warfare (see episode #3). The first “guest” is Manfred von Richthofen, the legendary Red Baron. In 1917 (a few months before his death) he published an Autobiography, from which we selected a passage describing an aerial dogfight between him and an English Pilot – his 32th victory. Richthofen was a very well known figure during WWI: Germans regarded him as a hero, French and English hated him with a passion. With 80 confirmed victories, the Red Baron is the highest ranked flying ace of the whole conflict, and his deeds inspired many books, documentaries and even movies (the latest one, “Der rote Baron”, was released in 2008). His nickname comes from the colour of his planes, painted in a bright-red colour. The title of the Autobiography – “Der rote Kampfflieger” – has the same origin.
Manfred von Richthofen is a controversial figure: regarded by many (non only in the German speaking countries) as an extraordinary man, celebrated in movies and literature. But also a young soldier who deeply enjoyed war and showed neither mercy nor compassion for the fallen enemies. His Autobiography is available at: https://archive.org/details/DerRoteKampfflieger
The second “guest” of the episode is sergeant Leonard J. Ounsworth (see episodes #1 and #3). In an original interview he relates of a very peculiar episode he witnessed while serving in France. He remembers that once a french plane was diving on the corner of a corn field for no apparent reason. Then, all of a sudden, a detachement of Indian cavalry (according to Ounsworth, the 9th Royal Deccan Horse) surrounded German machineguns and captured at least 34 prisoners and their weapons. The french plane was unarmed and only served as a distraction to cover the movements of the cavalry until the very last moment. The full interview is available at: http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ww1lit/gwa/document/9404?REC=1
The last account is by French soldier Maurice Leclerc (see episode #5), who wrote about the tragic epilogue of a dogfight in a letter dated 22/09/1916. Leclecrc witnessed the crash of a french plane and the death of the crew. The observer jumped from the plane but the parachute (see episode #3) didn’t work. The pilot tried to land the burning plane, but the impact with the ground caused the gas tank to explode. The letter can be downloaded at: http://europeana1914-1918.eu/de/contributions/9841
Editing: Laura Leitner, Matteo Coletta
Voices in this episode: David Leberbauer as Manfred von Richthofen, L.J. Ounsworth as himself, Matteo Coletta as Maurice Leclerc.
Music: Gregoire Lourme, “Fire arrows and shields”
Concept: Matteo Coletta
Voices: Hannes Hochwasser, Matteo Coletta, Roman Reischl, L.J. Ounsworth, Norbert K. Hund.