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The High Price of Glory

Aviation > Aircraft Aviation > Pilots

By Tim Hillier-Graves
Imprint: Air World
File Size: 9.0 MB (.epub)
Pages: 296
ISBN: 9781036100285
Published: 4th April 2024


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It is more than a hundred years since Manfred von Richthofen, the ‘Red Baron’, was killed in combat on the Western Front. Yet this gallant fighter pilot is probably as well known today as he was his lifetime.

Beginning in 1916, when his lethal skills were first realised, his image proved a godsend to his country’s propaganda machine. There, far above the misery of life in the trenches, was a shooting star of unimaginable potency to help pacify a weary nation that was now beginning to believe that the war was no longer necessary or the losses justified. And so, an image of chivalry was conjured up and exploited with little regard of the cost of this to an increasingly war weary man.

Manfred von Richthofen: The Red Baron and the High Price of Glory draws on many sources, some previously untapped, including interviews with pilots he fought alongside and against, official documents held in collections around the world and the work of three noted Great War historians, two of whom began their work in the 1920s, all now dead but who left a rich legacy of research for us to explore. In addition, there are interviews with fifty or so pilots from the Second World War, who went through much that von Richthofen experienced above the Western Front and could speak with authority about the effects of continuous combat flying on aviators.

This is the story of how a young cavalry officer eager to serve his country became a pilot and then, when success beckoned, had his life taken over by a very skilled group of publicists, writers, photographers and artists. Every element of his life was picked over, dissected and revealed to an ever-growing and intrusive audience. If he had simply been a celebrity – royalty, an actor or politician – this attention might have been accepted, but he was a front line pilot daily courting death, leading many other men in a constant life or death struggle.

So here we have a man severely stressed by war, then stripped of his privacy and any opportunity to rest. Inevitably, some might say, he became another victim of a bloody war, but even in death the exploitation continued and was then re-awakened a decade or so later by the Nazi’s to help promote an even bloodier war.

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About Tim Hillier-Graves

TIM HILLIER-GRAVES was born in North London during 1951. On leaving university he served as an officer with the Royal Navy, seeing wide service on land and sea. For much of this time he specialised in weapon development projects, specifically missiles and heavyweight torpedoes, and worked alongside BAe, Marconi Space and Defence Systems and McDonnell Douglas in the process. In support of this work, he undertook prolonged periods of study and research at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, and the Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham. Late in his career he changed specialisms to become Head of Investigations for the MoD’s Estates Organisation. From this he moved on to become Head of Finance and Planning and then into Human Resource Management where he specialised in outsourcing to industry. Then as an Assistant Director he took on responsibility of housing for military personnel. He retired in 2011 to focus more fully on writing biographies and books related to military, aviation and engineering matters.

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