12 January 1916 – Richthofen awarded Ordre Pour Le Mérite

Today, the Kaiser awarded Manfred von Richthofen the Ordre Pour Le Mérite, the highest award possible. This is in recognition of him downing 16 enemy aircraft. It is exactly one year since Oswald Boelcke and Max Immelmann received the award for shooting down eight. Richthofen is now the leading German pilot left alive.

The news did not reach Richthofen for a few days, and in the meantime he was put in command of Jasta 11. He was not pleased. He wrote in his memoirs:

“One fine day a telegram arrived, which stated: “Lieutenant von Richthofen is ap- pointed Commander of the Eleventh Chasing Squadron.” I must say I was annoyed. I had learnt to work so well with my comrades of Boelcke’s Squadron and now I had to begin all over again working hand in hand with different people.

It was a beastly nuisance. Besides I should have preferred the Ordre pour le Merite. Two days later, when we were sitting sociably together, we men of Boelcke’s Squadron, celebrating my departure, a telegram from Headquarters arrived. It stated that His Majesty had graciously condescended to give me the Ordre pour le Merite. Of course my joy was tremendous.”

 

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