The death of the ‘Red Baron’, Manfred von Richthofen, in a field close to brickworks near the Somme at roughly 10.30hrs on Sunday 21 April 1918 was commemorated 100 years later by a reception in the village of Vaux-sur-Somme. The crash site itself is slightly to the north of the road that runs between Bray and Corbie, just north of the Somme. Two map references are given in official reports, so the location can be narrowed down to an area of 100 by 50 yards.
The events of 21 April 1918 started when two RE8s, patrolling near Sailly-Laurette, were attacked by Albatros and Fokker DrI fighters. The Sopwith Camels of No 209 Squadron joined the fray and the fight moved westwards towards Sailly-le-Sec and Vauxsur- Somme, where von Richthofen is said to have overflown the church before turning north. The town of Vaux decided to mark the occasion together with the local tourism organisation.
In the small park next to the church, Digger Cote 160, a group based in Pozières that commemorates the Australian troops stationed in the area, had set up its static DrI replica. A procession, led by a French pipe band, contained local dignitaries and members of JG 71, the current ‘Richthofen’ squadron in the German Luftwaffe. Speeches were made by Philippe Gosselin, the mayor of Vaux, M. Barbuat, the president of the Val de Somme tourist organisation, and Lt Col Rex of the Luftwaffe. Melvyn Hiscock