Manfred von Richthofen Journal
April 16th, 1911
Today is the first day of my military career.
Excitement and anxiousness fills my body as I am assigned to the 1st Regiment of Uhlans. I do not know what this group of
guys had to offer me, but I heard they a lot of good things from them. I have a few friends who told me to join this regiment
and my father had also advised me to do so. My father, what a character, he is also in the military serving in the 12th Regiment
of Uhlans. My father’s choice in joining the army influenced me on my decisions in my career. I felt like it was my
duty to join also and serve the German nation. My brothers, uncles, and cousins are also in the army and I wish them the best
I am very fond of this regiment I am assigned
to. I have a few friends here that graduated with me in the Cadet Corps. I didn’t enjoy the time in the Cadet Corps
very much, and I hated the strict lifestyle and schedules I had to follow. The schooling was hard, I didn’t understand
much of it but I was able to pass. The only thing I like about it was the sports, which I found out I was very good at. I
loved the gymnastic classes, I was known for my mean tricks on the horizontal bar. That was how I lived my life as a kid and
right after my graduation I decided to join the army. I want to make my father proud and follow in his foots steps, I know
it’s goning to be a tough road ahead but I am ready to face it.
Life in the trenches is dull and very dreary
to me. I haven’t seen any action yet, but I plan very soon to. The trenches that I lived in were very comfortable, it
had heating and bomb-proof barriers – which made me feel just a bit safer. The trenches that I lived in were a mansion
of many luxuries compared to the trenches just 1,500 yards ahead from here. Over there is the front line, which is where I
want to be. Trenches in the front were in very poor conditions; after all it was bombarded daily by the metal shells and shrapnel
of artillery fire and the constant pounding of footmen. The troops that come back to from the front call me a “base-hog,”
which is self-explanatory, I haven’t seen action yet, but they don’t seem to understand my position. My division
is stuck digging trenches on a daily basis. It funny to see a whole dang division digging, while just a few miles ahead men
are fighting and dieing. I feel very pathetic for me and the division, but I’m fond to free time we get. I enjoy the
hunting I get to do when I’m not digging holes. The forest just a few hundred yards to the south had plenty of game,
but as the days past of the same routine, I realized that I am fighting in a war. I wanted to do more for my nation than just
messing around and shooting animals.
I am glad that I realized hunting was a waste
of time during this period of the war. I decided to send a letter to my Commanding Officer. I asked to be put into action
right away and I had enough fun with hunting. Just a few days later, I got a letter from them and they have assigned me to
the Flying Service. I knew I was in for a big treat with this one.
The last six months have been a huge blur to
me. I had so many things to attend to and I had a very hectic schedule. During the winter I had to go back to school, flight
school that is. I worked hard and I was dedicated to passing my examinations. I went on many flights during this time, all
in preparation to passing the exams. I had many enjoyable times too; I remember the flight training drills we had to complete,
and every now and then, I would go off and shoot down pigs as target practice. Training was hard but I enjoyed it.
Finally on Christmas day, I passed my last examination
and officially became a pilot. From then on, I spent my days flying around Germany on my tour as an observer. As
the months passed and March neared, I joined the Second Battle Squadron and before the battle for Verdun started, I trained to be a fighter pilot and just yesterday I finished my training.
Today was an exciting day for me. I was sent
on my first flight mission and I returned with joy streaming through my blood. I had shoot down one my first French fighter.
I was trilled to see him go down, and I had no anguish for his death. For reasons unknown, I couldn’t figure out why
I didn’t feel any sorrow for him, has the war turned me this stagnate already? I read my accomplishments in a report
just a few minutes ago and I was proud of my success. It seems to me that my first victim is going to be a great motivator
June 30th, 1916
Speculations about the next week have been wild.
Our commander told us to pack up and that we’ll be moving to Russia.
We have been assigned to complete some bombardments in Russia,
and I’m feeling very animated to take out the missions. Once we have reached Russia, we took a few days to get ready for the many strings of bombing we were
about to complete.
On our first day of bombing, the front was quiet
and calm. The atmosphere was very much tranquil. As we flew through the front, we spot our targets. We were ordered to destroy
buildings that were of value to the Russians and we did so with grace. Our first mission was a success and we had very little
For the next month, we bombed numerous buildings
and railways with ease. Russia seemed
to have very little fire power against air attacks. I felt a bit of guilt as we passed by many villages that were bombarded
heavily. I recalled seeing a whole village in a peaceful state of mind and then the next day as our squadron passed over;
it was little more than a black mush of smoldering wood. This is the real life of war; it is very hard and unforgiving. I
have learned that war is real and grim, and it isn’t some fantasy that should be glorified.
Our last mission was a bit more trilling and
successful than the past. We were order to take out a bridge that runs over the Stokhod
River. To our surprised, it was heavily occupied by the enemy. They were
just marching across the bridge and in total oblivion to our presences. We stalked them until we were ready to attack; we
charged down and dropped all our bombs. My machine gunner went trigger-happy and took down a whole crowd of the Russian troops.
Our successes were celebrated when we returned back to base.
April 21st, 1918
The past tow years have been very chaotic for
me. I had not been able to write in this journal for a while know. I had accomplished many good deeds for the Germans in the
past two years. I was awarded the Pour le Mérite in January, 1917 for my 16th ace in the war. I even colored my
plane all red to show thanks to the German people. Then in April, my kills were doubled to 52 after I took down 22 British
planes, those Brits couldn’t fly a plane if their mother’s lives depended on it. My squad even gave me a nickname
after Bloody April, which was the peak of my killing success, they called me “der rote Kampfflieger” or The Read Baron. I’m quite fond to this new name and my new red planes, and I
plan to continue my ace.
is a different day, I feel very weary and a bit dazed. I have a bad feeling about the upcoming mission I have to fly in a
few hours. I smell something in the air, but I can’t put my finger on it. We are ordered to take out a squad of the
Royal Air Force over the Morlancourt Ridge, near the Somme River. The Royal Air Force are a well trained group of pilots, they always give a tough
dog fight, but I’m not scared just a bit restless today. I might be coming down with something, but I will not step
down from my mission.
just checked my plane, and it seems to be a bit worn down. Now I’m a bit nervous for the upcoming fight against the
Royal Air Force, but my commander tells be go with it and I’ll do fine. I sure do hope he is right.