Thursday, July 27, 2017

Sickly Boy In Two Years Becomes World's Most Valuable Soldier -- July 27, 2017

Fairmont West Virginian, 19-July-1917
Georges Guynemer was France's greatest fighter ace.  He was from an aristocratic family.  He was not allowed to enlist in the war because of tuberculosis.  He was finally accepted as a mechanic and then became a pilot.  100 years ago today, on 27-July-1917, he scored his fiftieth victory.  This article from the 19-July-1917 Fairmont West Virginian talks about his exploits.

Adolphe Pégoud was a great flier who was shot down and killed in 1915.  



WASHINGTON, D. C., July 18.~The most valuable soldier In the world today is a youth of 22, who when he enlisted was a sickly-looking boy in the first stages of consumption.

Today, France would rather part with two whole army divisions than lose George Guynemer!

He is the uncrowned "king of the air," who has brought down 45 German airplanes.

As one aviator is worth 1,000 ordinary troops, Guynemer has strategically wiped out 45,000 Germans. No one soldier ever before approached this pale Frenchman's military value.

Capt. Amaury de La Grange, head of the French aviation commission now in the United States, today told me all about Guynemer, and explained the tactics that have won him undisputed supremacy as a fighter in the air. Said de La Grange:

"George Guynemer, now only twenty-two years old, began training in February, 1915, on the eve of his examinations for the Polytechnical school.

"He was tall, slim, delicate, so one feared he might have lung trouble. He had never gone in for sports, and was almost the last man to be picked as promising material for a pilot.

"He finished training in three and a half months, not remarkable when compared with Lieut. Tetu's six weeks. Less than a month after his arrival at the front, armed only with an army rifle, he brought down his first enemy.

"His plan of campaign against an enemy machine is simple.

"Now remarkably skillful, Guynemer always tries to place himself in a following position so he will not be seen. With wonderful courage he approaches as near at possible without firing, keeping below and behind hie adversary.

"When he comes almost up to him (90 to 150 feet) he makes his plane rear up like a spirited charger and opens fire.

"He la an excellent shot and usually disables his opponent In the first round, but in case he dose not he tries to break the fight by some acrobatic maneuver (a half-loop, spins, or several sharp turns).

"Guynemer is almost alone in the use of these tactics, as most of the other "Aces" (pilots who have brought down five machines) prefer to open fire at greater distances. Guynemer's tactios were also employed by Pegoud, the greatest flyer at the beginning of the war."

The story of Guynemer ought to be an Inspiration to every young American flyer.

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