Cedric Popkin


Cedric Popkin

Cedric Bassett Popkin (1891-January 1968) is considered the person most likely to have killed German ace Manfred von Richthofen — also known as the "Red Baron" — on April 21, 1918.Miller, Dr. Geoffrey. [http://www.lib.byu.edu/~rdh/wwi/comment/richt.htm "The Death of Manfred von Richthofen: Who fired the fatal shot?"] "Sabretache: Journal and Proceedings of the Military History Society of Australia", vol. XXXIX, no. 2, 1998.] [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/redbaron/ NOVA, 2003, "Who Killed the Red Baron? Explore Competing Theories" (Public Broadcasting Service)] ] Popkin was an anti-aircraft (AA) machine gunner with the First Australian Imperial Force (AIF), during World War I.

Popkin was born in Sydney and was a carpenter by trade. When he enlisted in the AIF, in Brisbane on May 6, 1916, he was living in Palmwoods, Queensland. He left Australia on October 20 with the 6th Reinforcements, 7th Machine Gun Company on HMAT "Port Lincoln".

By April 1918, Popkin — who had achieved the rank of Sergeant — was a gunner in the 24th Machine Gun Company, part of the Australian 4th Division, which was stationed in the Somme Valley, France.

At about 10:35 a.m. on April 21, Richthofen, flying his famous red Fokker Dr.I, engaged Sopwith Camels from 209 Squadron, Royal Air Force (RAF). He pursued a Camel piloted by a Canadian, Lt Wilfrid May. In turn the Baron was chased by another Canadian pilot, Capt. Roy Brown. The three planes flew over Morlancourt Ridge, in the 4th Division's sector, and Popkin — using a Vickers machine gun — and other Australian machine gunners and riflemen also fired at Richthofen. The Baron was hit by a 0.303 calibre bullet which passed diagonally from right to left through his chest. He then made a hasty but controlled landing, in a field on a hill near the Bray-Corbie road, just north of Vaux-sur-Somme. His Fokker was not damaged by the landing. One witness, Gunner George Ridgway, stated that when he and other Australian soldiers reached the plane, Richthofen was still alive but died moments later. [Miller 1988] Another eye witness, Sergeant Ted Smout, reported that Richthofen's last word was "kaputt" ("finished") immediately before he died. [Discovery Channel, 2002, "Unsolved History: Death of the Red Baron" (television documentary)] .

The identity of the person who shot the Baron remains unknown; 0.303 ammunition was the standard ammunition for all machine guns and rifles used by British Empire forces during World War I. However, many experts believe that the shot probably came from Popkin. [Miller 1988] However, some believe the shot came from William John "Snowy" Evans."Unsolved History: Death of the Red Baron", 2002, Discovery Channel] It is now considered all but certain by historians, doctors, and ballistics experts that von Richthofen was killed by an AA machine gunner, for a number of reasons. Autopsies revealed that the wound which killed the Baron was caused by a bullet moving in an upward motion. It was reported that a spent .303 bullet was found inside Richthofen's clothing. These facts, and the angle at which the bullet passed through Richthofen's body, suggest that he was killed by a long distance, low velocity shot from a ground-based weapon. Many Australian riflemen were also shooting at the Baron at the time, so one of them may have fired the fatal shot. However, Popkin was an experienced AA gunner, the volume of fire from the Vickers was far greater (at least 450 rounds per minute) than the bolt-action Lee-Enfield rifles (up to 30 rounds per minute) used by the infantry, and Popkin was the only machine gunner known to have fired at Richthofen from the right, and from a long distance, immediately before he landed.

The RAF gave official credit to Brown. However, it has been calculated that Richthofen would have lived for only 20-30 seconds after he was hit — due to the severity of his wound — and Brown did not fire at him within that time frame.

Popkin returned to Australia on January 5, 1919, and after being discharged from the army, worked once more as a carpenter. He spent most of the remainder of his life in Tweed Heads and the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. He is buried in Brisbane.

In 1964, Popkin told the "Brisbane Courier-Mail": "I am fairly certain it was my fire which caused the Baron to crash [,] but it would be impossible to say definitely that I was responsible ... As to pinpointing without doubt the man who fired the fatal shot [,] the controversy will never actually be resolved." [NOVA 2003]

Footnotes

External links


* [http://www.lib.byu.edu/~rdh/wwi/comment/richt.htm Dr Geoffrey Miller, 1998, "The Death of Manfred von Richthofen: Who Fired the Fatal Shot?"] (orig. publ. in "Sabretache: Journal and Proceedings of the Military History Society of Australia", v. XXXIX no. 2, June 1998)
* [http://www.suncoast.com.au/Palmwoods/News/98-04/p5a.html "Palmwood District News", 1998, "Popkin family looks up local connection"]
* [http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2003/12/25/13258/202 kuro5hin.org, 2003, "Who Killed The Red Baron?"]
* [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/redbaron/theories.html "NOVA", 2003, "Who Killed the Red Baron? Explore Competing Theories" (Public Broadcasting Service)]
* [http://www.awm.gov.au/cms_images/awm8/24_12_3/pdf/0191.pdf Australian War Memorial (AWM), "7th Machine Gun Company, 6th Reinforcements", "Australian Imperial Force — Nominal Roll"]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cedric Popkin — Gruppenfoto der Offiziere und Unteroffiziere der 24th Machine Gun Company in March 1918. Sergeant Cedric Popkin ist zweiter von rechts in der mittleren Reihe. Cedric Bassett Popkin (* 1891 in Sydney; † Januar 1968) war ein Luftabwehr MG Schütze… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Manfred von Richthofen — This article is about the WWI flying ace. For other members of his famous aristocratic German family, see Richthofen. Red Baron redirects here. For other uses, see Red Baron (disambiguation). Manfred von Richthofen …   Wikipedia

  • Manfred von Richthofen — 1917 Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen (* 2. Mai 1892 in Breslau; † 21. April 1918 bei Vaux sur Somme) war ein deutscher Jagdflieger im Ersten Weltkrieg. Er erzielte die höchste Zahl von Luftsiegen …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Manfred von Richthofen — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Manfred von Richthofen (homonymie). Manfred von Richthofen Surnom « L …   Wikipédia en Français

  • 1918 in Canada — See also: 1917 in Canada, other events of 1918, 1919 in Canada and the Timeline of Canadian history. Events* March 1 Harlan Brewster, premier of British Columbia, dies in office * March 6 John Oliver becomes premier of British Columbia * March 30 …   Wikipedia

  • Roy Brown (RAF officer) — Captain Arthur Roy Brown DSC and bar RNAS (23 December 1893 ndash; 9 March 1944) was a Canadian World War I flying ace. The Royal Air Force officially credited Brown with shooting down Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron , although later… …   Wikipedia

  • Snowy Evans — Infobox Military Person name=William John Evans born= 1891 died= 1925 placeofbirth= Australia placeofdeath= Australia placeofburial= nickname=Snowy allegiance= flag|Australia serviceyears=1914–1918 rank=Gunner branch= Army battles=First World… …   Wikipedia

  • Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen — Manfred von Richthofen Freiherr Manfred Albrecht von Richthofen (* 2. Mai 1892 in Breslau; † 21. April 1918 bei Vaux sur Somme) war ein deutscher Jagdflieger und Fliegerass im Ersten Weltkrieg. Er erzielte die höchste Zahl von …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Baron rouge — Manfred von Richthofen Pour les articles homonymes, voir Manfred von Richthofen (homonymie). Manfred von Richthofen Surnom …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen — Manfred von Richthofen Pour les articles homonymes, voir Manfred von Richthofen (homonymie). Manfred von Richthofen Surnom …   Wikipédia en Français


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.