Fostering curiosity in kids (and their parents) since 2011

“Did the Red Baron have a dog?”

Photo of flying ace and dog found somewhere online by The Nine-Year-Old.

One of the side effects of The Nine-Year-Old’s computer classes at school has been that suddenly I have competition for the computer in the office.

The Nine-Year-Old is proving extremely adept at using Google to find images* for her Powerpoint bulletins about her nascent private detective agency, the exploits of rogue T. Rexes, and of course, the latest issue of the Daily Imperial. But she’s a bit less adept about closing windows.

Which means that most days, when I show up to do a bit of blogging I typically find something like this:

The slide includes a photo of a T.Rex hunting in a jungle, and says: "Found Tyrannosaurus Rex. Please come soon. I don't know what to do." It lists the dinosaur's attributes ("male, keeps saluting me, answers to Admiral Campbell Merchant-Rex, can type, probably from our condo building")

(Powerpoint Slide: The Nine-Year-Old Howell)

Generally, when I see something like that, I read it, chuckle, and save it to The Nine-Year-Old’s personal file folder on the computer. And then I close it, thereby guaranteeing that The Nine-Year-Old will never find it again (and therefore, will have to make something new to entertain me the next morning).

But this morning when I showed up to write there were no rogue T. Rex bulletins or Daily Imperial issues waiting for me. Instead I found the following series of intriguing (and at-that-point-unsaved) screen shots:

Plane specifications for a WWI combat plane

Plane specifications. Found somewhere online by The Nine-Year-Old. (See Note 1)

More plane specifications found somewhere online by The Nine-Year-Old

More plane specifications found somewhere online by The Nine-Year-Old. (See Note 2)

A man in WWI flying gear caresses the face of a tall, skinny dog.

Photo of a WWI Flying Ace and his dog found somewhere online by The Nine-Year-Old. (See Note 3)

This combined with the fact that today’s Powerpoint bulletin dealt with an urgent plea from a WWI Flying Ace (Code Name: Snoopy) desperate for help defusing a Glitter Bomb, leads me to believe that The Nine-Year-Old has been researching the Red Baron, aka Manfred von Richthofen, again.

But that dog in the picture clearly wasn’t Snoopy. Who could it be?

Did the Red Baron have a dog? 

Yes. According to Deerhound, The Red Baron was extremely found of his hound, Moritz. This photograph of the two of them by the Red Baron’s plane is reputed to be the last photograph of the Red Baron taken during his lifetime.

The Red Baron poses with Moritz in front of his plane shortly before taking off on his final mission. (Photo via Deerhound)

The Red Baron poses with Moritz in front of his plane. (Photo via Deerhound)

Shortly after taking this picture, the Red Baron flew off on his final mission over the Somme in April 1918.

What happened to the Red Baron’s dog after the Red Baron died?

When the Red Baron didn’t return, a member of his squadron, then-Leutnant Alfred Gerstenberg adopted Moritz. Moritz lived out his days on Gerstenberg’s farm. (Source: “The Red Baron’s Last Flight” by Franks and Bennet, p. 95)

In his article on the Red Baron for the October/November 2015 issue of History Magazine, Don Holloway quotes the Red Baron calling Moritz “my little lap dog.”

After careful review of this photograph, my cat Canelo and I have decided that the Red Baron must not have understood size words very well. That dog is no lap dog. While we can’t tell Moritz’s breed from these pictures, Moritz clearly stretches from the ground up to the Red Baron’s shoulders. Even if the Red Baron were a relatively short five foot seven inches, that would place Moritz well above the height specification for lap dog status.

*Thank you, Uncle Phil, for the tip about putting Google into Safe Search Mode to keep The Nine-Year-Old from finding stuff I’m not ready for her to see yet.

Related Links: 

Photograph Notes:

In researching this post, I managed to find copies of The Nine-Year-Old’s images at various spots on the web. I’ve listed them below as if they were the actual sources. That said, only The Nine-Year-Old really knows where she found these images, and she’s not commenting on her sources. The only reason she’s allowing me to publish this post at all is because whether or not the Red Baron had a dog is a matter of public record, and doesn’t compromise the World War I Flying Ace’s latest Top Secret Mission (Code Name: Aqua Brass Corgi).

Note 1: Plane specifications. This picture was so badly pixelated, I nearly despaired of finding a source for it. However, I was just barely able to make out the words Fokker Dr.1 Triplane in the upper left corner. The words both confirmed that The Nine-Year-Old was researching the Red Baron (he flew a Fokker Dr.1 Triplane), and gave me the keywords I needed for my Google search. Searching for “Fokker Dr 1 Triplane images” led me to UK-based The Outer Zone, where I found a copy of the specifications and happily, someone to credit for them.

Note 2: More plane specifications. The plane in this image is clearly not a triplane, so that rules out the plane flown by the Red Baron. However, The Nine-Year-Old is nothing if not methodical and if she were to download specifications for the Red Baron’s plane, she’d likely download specifications for his arch-rival as well. Snoopy flew a Sopwith Camel, so I searched for that. Sure enough, a Google search for “Sopwith Camel specifications images” led me to this image on the Fiddlers Green paper model plane website.

Note 3: The WWI Flying Ace with his dog. I really didn’t have to search very hard for this photograph of the Red Baron and Moritz at all, as Don Holloway’s History Magazine article includes it.

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