Oberleutnant Lothar Seigfried Freiherr von Richtofen – German Ace 1894 / 1922
Richtofen was born on the 27th of September 1894, the younger more impetuous brother of Manfred, ” The Red Baron” whilst Manfred was a cautious tactical pilot, Lothar would jump in to the midst of any fight, often to his detriment.
Like his elder brother, Lothar began the war as a cavalry Officer with the 4th Dragoon Regiment. He had remained in the public gymnasium ( high school ), he was enrolled in compulsory military training at the Kreigsschule in Danzig, ( Gdansk Poland. )
On his own initiative when war was declared Lothar returned to his unit. Lothar was nearly cut down by sniper fire, while on patrol. In mid – October 1914 while stationed at Attigny, He was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class for valour. It was the only consolation that Lothar received for his cavalry service. The following month his regiment was transferred to the Eastern Front.
In February 1915, Manfred “rescued” his younger brother from the boredom of training recruits in Luben, and also encouraged him to transfer to the Fliegertruppe. He joined the German Army Air Service ( Luftstreitkrafte ) in late 1915.
He served from January 1916 as an observer with Jasta 23, occasionally observing for Otto Creutzmann and saw action during the battle of Verdun. He won the Iron Cross 1st Class in December and than began his training as a pilot.
His first posting as a pilot was the his brother’s Jasta 11 on the 6th of March 1917. An impulsive and aggressive flyer, unlike his cool and calculating brother, Lothar’s first victory claim followed on the 28th of March for an F.E.2b of No. 25 Squadron R.F.C. The German High Command were quick to appreciate the propaganda value of the two Richtofen’s fighting together to defeat the enemy in the air.
Taken his part in what the British termed “Bloody April” Lothar had scored 15 more victories by the beginning of May. When his brother went on leave, Lothar assumed command of the Jasta.
To Be Continued……………..
(C) Damian Grange 2018