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Thursday, 9 December, 1999, 17:47 GMT
Medals of Red Baron victim sold

Fokker fighter in the Red Baron's colours Lieutenant Tom Rees was the first to be shot by the Red Baron flying a Fokker fighter


Medals awarded to a Welsh airman who became the first victim of the legendary German air ace, the Red Baron have been sold at auction.

Lieutenant Tom Rees from Brecon was the first to be killed by the Red Baron.

Lieutenant Rees, 21, was posthumously awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the British Victory Medal, which raised 4,500 at auction in London on Thursday.

"Such a group of medals, although hard-earned, would normally be regarded as somewhat commonplace, but the facts behind these humble medals make them a very special item," says Welsh antiques dealer Robert Pugh.

The German air ace Baron Manfred von Richthofen claimed his first victim with an attack out of the clouds against a formation of British fighters and bombers who were attacking a railway station in September 1916.

The plane was being piloted by another Welshman, Second Lieutenant Lionel Morris.

Lieutenant Rees stood up in the cockpit to fire his pistol at the German plane, but was shot and killed by the Red Baron.

Second Lieutenant Morris, although wounded himself, managed to land the plane in a field.


Baron von Richthofen Baron von Richthofen was responsible for shooting down 60 British aircraft
Von Richthofen was so keen to claim his kill that he landed his plane next to the stricken British aircraft.

The Welshmen's plane was the first of 60 shot down by the Baron.

Lieutenant Rees had been in the university training corps at Aberystwyth and joined up as soon as he graduated.

He volunteered to join the Royal Flying Corps, then a new branch of the armed forces.

The day he died he was promoted to captain.

And on the same day, his brother John was killed by lightning.

Tom Rees is buried in the communal cemetery at Plouich, France.

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See also:
28 Nov 99 |  Wales
Call to honour Lloyd George for millennium

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