On 2 December 1925 the Canadian newspaper the On, піч Citizen published what it termed:’A full account of the fight’ given, it claimed, by an officer who had been engaged in the air battle over Cerisy and Saillv – Laurette on 21 April 1918.The officer was not named.

Some of the phrasing of that Anonymous Account will look quite familiar to a reader once he has digested the contents of the Siimimiry (Appendix C). provided (it is claimed) by the Air Ministry in London to the author Floyd Gibbons (but see our misgiving in that appendix).

If, after studying the transcript (below) of the Anonymous Account, the reader peruses My Fight with Richthofen. (Appendix E), further similarities will be noticed.

The Anonymous Account was as follows – verbatim:

‘Fifteen of our planes were patrolling along the lines,’ he said. ‘Captain Brown was leading his squadron / / / of fire machines parallel with the second squadron, and some distance above the third and leading squadron.

‘We had not gone far when we saw below us two or three RF. Hs out on artillery observation, and attaching them were several German triplanes /2]. At that time iir were at an altitude of some fifteen thousand feet, and the enemy planes were Jlying quite low /3/.

‘Captain Brown, without hesitation, dived, the others following. Within a few minutes we were in the middle of a “dogfight". Hi1 discovered nr were attaching 22 14/ enemy machines. Fortunately the speed of the onslaught threw the Germans off their guard, and the old RHs were able to get away undamaged 5],

‘Captain Brown, as leader of the squadron, was beeping an eye on the entire fight. He had one pilot, Captain “lli>/>” May of Edmonton, who had never before tahen part in an air battle bj and quite naturally he paid particular care to the new man. Captain May dived with the rest, engaged with a (iennan, and after bringing him down /7/, made towards our own lines in accordance with instructions.

So sooner had be become detached from the others than Richthofen made after him and opened up heavy fire 8f. Fortunately Captain Brown had been watching this turn of events and he immediately followed after Richthofen. His first bullets ripped through the fuselage of the enemy plane /9/. lie //0/ saw him elevate his fire slightly / / If Richthofen collapsed in his seat and the plane plunged to the ground //2/.


‘When the battle was over, we discovered that we had accounted for eight enemy planes, and we had received no damage at all /13/.

‘Richthofen,’ continued the airman, ‘was usually successful because he invariably followed any plane which became detached from the fight. I question whether he ever realised that he in turn, was being followed. He was hilled instantaneously by the first burst of bullets and his machine was riddled I I4f

Authors’ Xotes

1. The flights are called squadrons; an error in the Summary. The writer obviously was not ^ R pilot.

2. The RESs and Fokker Triplanes which were ixx sight over Le Hamel, not below Browns Camel’ tr Cerisy. have been inserted. These appear again m і Summary.

3. The genuine RESs and Triplanes over Le H-— were not ‘quite low*, they were at 7,500 feet. Га altitude is given in the Combats in the Air Rcpon written jointly by the two RES crews.

4. 22 German machines are said to have been pre^n I low anyone could have counted them is – « explained, and the same number is cited in "ir Summary. The figure is about double the acn_a. number.

5. The genuine RESs carried on with their phi : – graphy in peace and neither crew made any reference to Camels being present.

0. This was not the first time that May had been – combat: actually it was his second combat and tht" flight over the lines. Also his rank is shown incorrect! although he became a captain later in 1918.

7. May is incorrectly said to have shot down і Triplane. This is repeated in the Summary which thcr. adds – ‘flames’ – to the fiction. The only Triplane к*’* over the Somme on that day was Richthofen’s 425 17

8. The heavy fire is pure invention. The aces on both sides only fired a few shots at a time in short bursts they were so close that they knew they couldn’t miss

9. II. 12. The bullets through the fuselage. Brown elevating his fire, and the Triplane plunging to the ground all reappear in My Fight with Richthofen in a more elaborate manner. In some of the published versions. Richthofen collapses in his seat as well. The text is still recognisable as having originated in the Anonymous Account and having been ‘laundered’ on its way through the Summary and The Red Knight of C iermany.

10. ‘lie’ suggests that two, or more, Sopwith Camel pilots were living within 50 yards of Captain Brown when he fired on the Triplane. To see such minute detail, ‘they would have to be extremely close to him yet nobody saw them. This positively identifies the ‘story’ as a fabrication.

13. Eight enemy planes shot down is again pure invention. Only von Richthofen’s Triplane was lost although another may have been forced to land.

14. ‘Riddled with bullets’ is more invention. The people who examined the Triplane 425/17 after the forced landing were amazed to find how undamaged from gunfire it was. Private Craven, who souvenired a piece of fabric with a bullet hole in it. was said to have been lucky. There was only one bullet hole in the fuselage; Captain R Ross. Lieutenant W J Warneford and I AM A A Boxall-Chapman, all testified to that effect.

The Anonymous Account may have been the source of a

fictitious story published on 26 February 1930 in the Herald, a Melbourne, Australia newspaper, under the name of Lieutenant L A Mellor of 209 Squadron KFC (sic). Like the writer of the Anonymous Account he claimed to have been flying close to Brown when the latter attacked the Red Baron. Unfortunately С E W

Bean could not find a Lieutenant L A Mellor in the RAF or AFC lists of officers. The present authors have made a similar search with the same result. The 209 Squadron Record Book does not mention him as having flown on 21 April 1918. nor is his name listed in the Squadron pilot roster.