On Sunday, 21 April 1918, a young Canadian captain, Roy Brown, led his squadron on an early morning patrol. An old friend, Wilfred "Wop" May, was flying his first combat mission. Brown had told May to break formation and head for the airfield if they sighted any enemy planes. Shortly after takeoff, Brown's squadron encountered a multicoloured flight of German planes. May broke formation and headed for home as he had been instructed to do. At that moment, a bright red Fokker triplane broke through the wispy clouds and moved into an attack position behind May. Captain Brown rushed to help May and fired a full burst at the German. As the bullets riddled the length of the Fokker, the surprised pilot turned to look back and then slumped in his seat.

The red plane glided along and roughly settled in a field next to some Australian trenches. Manfred von Richtofen, the legendary "Red Baron," was dead by the time the Australian soldiers reached the aircraft. They later claimed that they had brought down von Richtofen, the highest scoring German ace, with fire from their trenches, but he had been too far away from their lines when he was mortally wounded. A few days later, Captain Roy Brown, from Cooking Lake, Alberta, was sent home due to serious illness.


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Prince of Wales Armouries Heritage Centre
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