Monday, September 11, 2017

3 Great Flyers Lose Lives or Are Prisoners -- September 11, 2017

Washington Times, 26-September-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 11-September-1917, he went missing in action.  No trace of him has ever been found.  This article from the 26-September-1917 Washington Times talks about the loss of Guynemer and two other pilots. 

"Lieutenant Vosse" was probably Werner Voss, who was shot down on 23-September-1917 after an epic dogfight.   

Douglas MacMonagle, from my home town, San Francisco, was a member of the Lafayette Escadrille.  He died in combat on 24-September-1917.  

Colonel Rees, mentioned in the second illustration, may have been the Welsh pilot Lionel Rees.  He received the Victoria Cross and served in both World Wars. 


Aviation has claimed a toll of three of the moat brilliant figures that the present war has produced, according to dispatches from the front today. France, Germany, and the United States each mourn the loss of an aero star

Capt George Guynemer, famous French airman, is reported lost after winging fifty-two enemy planes; Lieutenant Vosse, leading German aviator, is officially reported killed, after bringing down fifty allied planes. Douglas MacMonagle, of San Francisco, whose daring had won for him rapid promotion, is reported a victim of an aerial engagement yesterday. 

Guynemer Only 21.

Guynemer was only twenty-one years of age, MacMonagle waa a university student, and Vosse is said to have been a young man.

Two years ago Guynemer was a simple soldier in the ranks, a place he won only after being five times rejected by medical inspectors. He was only twenty-one years of age.

Today all France mourns when it is unofficially reported that he has been lost and has possibly been killed.

Captain Guynemer was last heard from when he started a reconnaissance flight over Flanders.

After a brief term in the ranks, Captain Guynemer joined the aviation corps. He rose rapidly in rank, winning the Cross of the Legion of Honor, the Military Medal, the War Cross and almost all honors that his country could bestow.

When he marched in the Fourth of July parade, he was showered with flowers by the people and applause greeted him wherever he went. In spite of the honors conferred upon him, Captain Guynemer was considered one of the most modest men in France.

Wins Rank of "Ace."

Guynemer won his rank of "ace" in February of last year when he brought down his fifth enemy plane. In rapid succession victories followed. The young aviator participated in many spectacular flights and had many narrow escapes. In March he was wounded.

What is considered the most remarkable achievement in the air since the beginning of the war was accomplished 'by Captain Guynemer just one ear ago when he brought down three German planes in two minutes and thirty seconds.

On another occasion he displayed his daring when he descended between the French and German lines and then made his escape.

Captain Guynemer carried no gunner. He operated his airplane alone, serving both as gunner and pilot.

Along with the announcement of the probable loss of Captain Guynemer comes an official report from Berlin that Lieutenant Vosse, a leading German aviator, has been killed in an aerial flight with his fiftieth adversary. Vosse was recognized as the greatest German airman.

PARIS, Sept. 26 -- Douglas MacMonagle, former University of Callfornla student, was killed in an aerial flight Monday, according to a report from the French front. He was promoted to a sergeantcy on August i5, after only three months' service at the front.

MacMonagle Joined the Lafayette Escadrille last June, and early dlstingished himself in a number of thrilling operations undertaken by American airmen. He was decorated with the war cross for bravery under fire on August 6.

Saw Own Funeral.

Captain Guynemer, describing one of his battles with enemy planes, once told this story of how he felt when one of the wings of his machine was turn away:

"I felt myself dropping. It was 10,000 feet to the earth and like a nash (? - JT). I saw my funeral, with my saddened comrades marching behind the gun carriage to the cemetery. I pulled and pushed every lever I had, but nothing would check my terrific descent.

Flve thousand feet from the earth the wrecked machine began to turn somersaults, but 1 was strapped into the seat. I do not know what it was, but something happened and I felt the speed lessen. But suddenly there was a tremendous crash and when I recovered my senses I had been taken from the wreckage and was all right.

Washington Times, 26-September-1917

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