|Last day over the
Manfred was already the darling of the propagandists, a folk hero, when his younger brother entered the fray. Bold, where his brother was calculating; impetuous, sometimes unpredictable - fiercely competitive; Lothar badly wanted to prove his worth as quickly as he could and, if possible, match Manfred's victory tally...... score for score.
Back then, heroes, (and men of lesser stature), were expected to maintain a front of initiative, drive, and fortitude at all times. They were expected to suffer and endure, in silence and with stoic dignity, their physical and emotional injuries. Lothar had been bred to this tradition. He seems to have been a less "concentrated" edition of Manfred; World War One's highest-scoring Ace, and Germany's most decorated aviator. To boot, a keen and interested - (indeed passionate) - pioneer and developer of early German fighter aviation . . . . . a bold leader and a skilled air tactician.
More of a "shooter" than a "hunter" - (Manfred's passion was the hunt) - Lothar was at first considered to be almost too hasty to the kill; too impulsive. But by the time he was forced to retire from combat due to severe wounds, August 13, 1918, he had 40 confirmed victories to his credit, and had long-since achieved "ACE" status.
He survived the Great War to die, July 1922, in a civilian aeroplane crash.
It was sheer determination which carried him through initial wartime service in the cavalry; followed by combat flights as an observer at Kasta 23. Like his brother before him, he grew increasingly impatient flying simply as an observer. Real life, real adventure, real action, was to be found at the controls of a single-seater fighter/scout. So, pilot- training was almost an inevitability, and from there, unusually, and perhaps for propaganda purposes, Lothar was transferred to Jasta 11, Manfred's justifiably celebrated Staffel - and a highly desirable posting.
He obviously had a sort of innate flair for the type of relentless action into which he was plunged; seeming to realize instinctively when the elements of drama were in the offing...... and quickly began to prove his worth by scoring 10 victories within two weeks of his arrival.
FULL TILT TO THE DOGFIGHT/POSTHASTE TO VENGEANCE
Tuesday, 13 August 1918 Lothar von Richtofen, intent on carrying-out his flying duties, if for no other reason than to try and dispel his superstitious misgivings about "unlucky 13," took off at about midday, leading 5 members of his Staffel over the lines to engage as many enemy Englishmen as possible and preferably send them down in flames, or into endless oblivion. Peter has depicted Lothar heading towards these "Lords," as he called them, before he spotted - and settled upon a likely 2-seater target. Third time unlucky still? Or third time lucky? Three times quite seriously wounded on the 13th day of the month, he did, at least, survive the Great War, if not the dubious "peacetime" interlude afterwards, before The world once more resorted to working- out its problems by force.Deborah Susan Jones : Editor