Ossett priest conducted funeral of the famous Red Baron, historian discovers

An Ossett priest conducted the funeral of the famous German flying ace, The Red Baron, an historian has unearthed.

Friday, 6th November 2020, 12:59 pm
Updated Friday, 6th November 2020, 1:02 pm

Anne-Marie Fawcett carried out the research into the Reverend George H Marshall’s connection to Baron Manfed von Richtofen, the most feared fighter pilot during the First World War, but who was shot down and killed in 1918.

She said: “Few in the town knew then, or even now, of his connection to Baron Manfred von Richthofen aka the Red Baron, the Prussian aristocrat who was said to be the deadliest flying ace. I aim to try and change that.”

Reverend Marshall took up residency at Holy Trinity vicarage on Ossett’s Dale Street in 1931, but it was his work during The Great War that is known by so few.

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The Revd Marshall (Photo courtesy of Duncan Smith of church council of Ossett).

According to Anne-Marie’s research, during his time at university, he had been recruited by its Officer Training Corps and in 1915 was commissioned as a chaplain of the armed forces.

His role was to “conduct the army’s compulsory religious services and bury its dead”.

In 1917, George was invested as a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO), awarded for meritorious or distinguished service in wartime.

Picking up his story at the time of the Red Baron’s death in 1918 - his plane was downed and he was killed by a single bullet while fighting Allied Sopwith Camels over the Somme on April 21, 1918.

The Red Baron was the most feared German pilot during The Great War.

The 25-year-old’s body was recovered by the Allies, and Captain George Herbert Marshall, who was serving as chaplain to the Royal Flying Corps 101 Squadron at the time, was the closest Anglican chaplain to the scene. He was given the duty of officiating his burial.

Anne-Marie said: “It’s taken me four months to gather the evidence to prove this connection, but how chuffed I am that I’ve managed it.”

Her research on George’s life is due to be published on Ossett history website ossett.net