Death of Richthofen by Glenn Ibbitson

Glenn Ibbitson in front of his own work at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

Resident in Newcastle Emlyn for 15 years, Glenn Ibbitson left a career as a scenic artist for film and television, spending several years with the BBC. This work had provided opportunities for him to practise trompe-l’oeil techniques and visual trickeries on an industrial scale.

The methods he employed and the visuals he was responsible for creating there have continued to nurture his own subsequent artwork.

“Although I hope that my work can be appreciated on a purely aesthetic level, much of my work is propelled by socio-political subtext,” he says.

Glenn does not see himself as a crusading artist though he clearly has a passionate concern for humanity. By distancing himself from the contemporary art scene he avoids obligation to follow trends. This way, he says, he can adopt any medium he chooses, and can “follow his gut”.


We have written about Glenn and his work a number of times and also about his interest in moths that he has used for inspiration.  

Recently we heard about an exhibition of his that we hope will be of interest to his devoted followers and to anyone interested in the subject. Unfortunately none of the venues is in Pembrokeshire, but we still hope it will be of interest.

The following are excerpts from his blog where he also affectionally honours the memory of his dear Dad and recounts fond memories from his childhood. You can read more at

Death of Richthofen

By Glenn Ibbitson

Anyone visiting the Great War cemetery of Heilly in the valley of the Ancre is standing on the site of a casualty clearing station which was swamped with wounded troops evacuated from the Somme battlefield on 1 July 1916. It is, like so many of these war grave sites, peaceful and melancholy.

On the high spur between here and the Somme valley, glowers a prominent chimney rising above low buildings. This is the brickworks of St Colette and near it, on 21 April 1918, Baron Manfred von Richthofen was shot down into a nearby field and killed.

His dying word, heard by troops who had run across the field to the site of his crashed aircraft was simply “Kaput”.

 In  the last photograph taken of Richthofen, he lies dead; his glazed eyes still open. Shortly before this death portrait was taken, he had been subjected to a crude field hospital autopsy, where the bullet entry wound was connected through his torso to its exit with a length of fencing wire. The photograph is irregularly criss-crossed by crease lines formed by folding it into a pocket, betraying a certain disregard for its potential historical importance by the allied authorities.

Richthofen has been used as an exemplar of an archetype which probably never existed; that of the gallant knight of the air. Certainly he himself would not have endorsed this sanitised view of his military activity.

 He always sought out prey operating less manoeuvrable, slower and inferior-armed craft to his own. He carefully calculated the odds and only struck when they were heavily stacked in his favour, which is presumably why he enjoyed a relatively extended career as an ace.

His end was uncharacteristic of a self-preserving and cautious predator. Hungry for another kill, he trailed novice Canadian pilot Lt Wilfred May. Blind to impending danger, he was lured into trouble.

The Sopwith Camel was not alone. He was being protected by Captain A. Roy Brown, a Canadian pilot. Brown latched onto the red tail and fired off his machine guns at the Baron’s three-winged craft.

The plane dropped into a field by the brickworks and Brown became a national hero and convenient poster boy for the RAF, newly formed on 1 April: the man who shot down the Baron.

Glenn is very pleased to receive notification that his painting Death of Richtofen has been selected for the New Light Art 10th anniversary touring show 2020-2021 at the following venues.

19 September 2020 – January 2021

30 January 2021 – Early May 2021

Mid-May 2021 – Mid August 2021

14 November 2021 – Late November 2021

For more information email:

Kitty Parsons

Kitty has forgotten how long she has been here now but she loves Pembrokeshire for its beauty and it's people. She spends her time searching out stories for, swimming in the sea , drawing and painting as Snorkelfish and eating cake. She says " has been an opportunity to celebrate this beautiful county and its people. Keep the stories coming. We love to hear from you."

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