Wop May was transferred to
the 209 Squadron of the RAF on 9 April 1918 under flight
commander Roy Brown, who he had
known from his days at Victoria High School in Edmonton.
Brown had an exceptional record as a fighter pilot and as an
instructor. He had not lost a single pilot in his squadron. As
May was still a novice, his training included patrols that
brought a few encounters with the enemy. On 21 April, May flew
with the squadron over the lines and encountered Lieutenant
Wolfram von Richthofen and his cousin Rittmeister Manfred von
Richthofen, known as the Red Baron, and his Jasta 11 squadron.
May had been instructed not to engage the enemy but to fly
above the fray: watching and learning. He encountered a German
aircraft that had been instructed to do the same. The plane
appeared to be an easy target, so he engaged the enemy in a
dogfight. It was the cousin of Richthofen who piloted the
aircraft he was attacking. May missed his target, and suddenly
found himself in the middle of an attack with aircraft coming in
and firing at him from all directions. He went into a steep turn
and fired at the German, missing his target just before both of
his guns jammed.
To get out of trouble, May spun out toward the west, but
quickly realized he had a German triplane (piloted by the Red
Baron) behind him, which shot his aircraft in the tail. Roy
Brown had seen the events unfold, and was now behind the Red
Baron as May dropped down until he was flying just above the
battlefield, making his way back to his side of the line. Roy
Brown fired at the Red Baron as they flew over gunners on the
ground, who also fired at the red triplane, which crashed into a
hill. The Red Baron died from a gunshot wound.
Roy Brown was awarded a bar to his Distinguished Service
Cross for the victory over the Red Baron.