George Guynemer

George Guynemer

George Guynemer was born in France on 24th December 1894. On the outbreak of the First World War he joined the French Air Service.

At Verdun he was shot down and severely wounded. He returned to the Western Front during the summer of 1916 and flying a Nieuport II at the Battle of the Somme he established himself as France's most outstanding pilot.

Guynemer achieved 53 victories before being shot down and killed on 11th September, 1917.

We met at the same altitude. As the sun caught it, I saw the other man's machine painted light brown. Soon we were circulating round each other playing for an opening. Below we probably looked like two great birds of prey indulging in spring-time frolics, but we knew it was a game of death. The first man to get behind the other's back was the winner. In the single-seater fighters you could only shoot forward, and if your opponent got on your tail you were lost.

Sometimes we passed so near to each other that I could see every detail of my opponent's face - that is, all that was visible of it below his helmet. On the machine's side there was a Stork and two words painted in white. The fifth time that he flew past me I managed to spell out the word, Vieux. And Vieux Charles was Guynemar insignia. Georges Guynemar had some 30 victories to his credit and I knew that I was in for the fight of my life.

I tried every trick I knew - turns, loops, rolls, sideslips - but he followed each movement with a lightning speed and gradually I began to realise that he was more than a match for me. But I had to fight on, or turn away. To turn away would be fatal.

For eight minutes we had been flying round each other in circles. Suddenly Guynemer looped, and flew on his back over my head. That moment I relinquished hold of the stick, and hammered with both hands at the machine-gun. I missed him and he again passed close over my head, flying almost on his back. Guynemer now knew I was his helpless victim. And then, to my great surprise, he raised his arm and waved to me. Guynemer gave proof that even in modern warfare there is something left of the knightly chivalry of bygone days.

Pilot of great gallantry, a model of devotion to duty and courage. During the course of the past six months he (Georges Guynemer) has fulfilled two missions of a special nature requiring the highest spirit of self-sacrifice, and has engaged in thirteen aerial combats, of which two ended in the destruction in flames of the enemy aircraft

Officer of the elite, a fighting pilot as skilful as he is audacious, he (Georges Guynemer) has rendered brilliant service to his country, as much by the number of his victories, as by his daily keenness and ever-growing mastery. Heedless of danger he has become for the enemy, by the sureness of his methods and by the precision of his maneuvers, the most redoubtable adversary of all. On 25 May 1917, he accomplished one of his most brilliant exploits in downing, in one minute, two enemy planes and reporting in the same day two other victories. By all his exploits he contributes to the excitement, courage and enthusiasm of those who, in the trenches, are witnesses to his triumphs. Forty five planes downed, twenty citations, two wounds.


History of Pilots – Volume 9: Georges Guynemer

Discover volume nine in the History of Pilots series, a comic brought to you by Éditions IDEES PLUS.

Discover volume nine in the History of Pilots series, a comic brought to you by Éditions IDEES PLUS.

The story begins on August 2, 1914, and traces the biography of Georges Guynemer, a true legend among French war pilots. His destiny played out during World War I… Proudly bearing the flag of the French Air Force, he became one of the nation’s biggest heroes, with 53 recognized victories to his name.

Immerse yourself in the early days of aviation during World War I, and follow the thrilling life story of this man with a remarkable destiny.

“Histoires de Pilotes” – Volume 9: Georges Guynemer – Stoffel Éric (Author), Ratera Mike, Allali Frédéric (Artwork), Parada Diego (Colors) Éditions IDEES PLUS, Plein Vol collection, 54 pages, ISBN: 9782916795997


Family tree of Georges GUYNEMER

Guynemer was born to a wealthy Compiègne family and experienced an often sickly childhood. Nevertheless, he succeeded as an aviator through his enormous drive and self-confidence. He was originally rejected for military service, but was accepted for training as a mechanic in late 1914. With determination, he gained acceptance to pilot training, joining Escadrille MS.3 on 8 June 1915. He remained in the same unit for his entire service. He experienced both victory and defeat on the first plane allocated to him, a Morane-Saulnier L monoplane previously flown by Charles Bonnard, and accordingly named Vieux Charles (Old Charles). Guynemer kept the name and continued to use it for most of his later aircraft.


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Geographical origins

The map below shows the places where the ancestors of the famous person lived.


Legacy [ edit | edit source ]

Hispano-Suiza stork hood ornament styled after Guynemer's squadron emblem.

Guynemer was lionized by the French press and became a national hero. The French government encouraged the publicity to boost morale and take the people's minds off the terrible losses in the trenches. Guynemer was embarrassed by the attention, but his shyness only increased the public's appetite to know everything about him. This was quite different later in 1918 with the French top ace René Fonck, who despite having 75 confirmed victories, had bad publicity for his arrogance and shameless self-promotion. Guynemer's death was a profound shock to France nevertheless, he remained an icon for the duration of the war. Only 22 at his death, he continued to inspire the nation with his advice, "Until one has given all, one has given nothing."

The Paris street rue Guynemer is named after him ⎗] as is a school in Compiègne, the Institution Guynemer. A statue is erected in Poelcapelle in commemoration of Georges Guynemer.


Warrior Wednesday: Georges Guynemer

“Dead on the field of honor, September 11, 1917. A legendary hero fallen in glory from the sky after three years of hard and incessant struggle, he will remain the purest symbol of national ideals for his indomitable tenacity of purpose, his ferocious verve and sublime gallantry. Animated by an invincible faith in victory, he has bequeathed to the French soldier an imperishable heritage which consecrates the spirit of sacrifice and will surely inspire the noblest emulation.”

-Georges Guynemer’s commemorative plaque at the Pantheon in Paris.

The French Army finally permitted Georges Marie Ludovic Guynemer to enlist as an air mechanic on his fifth attempt at entering the military during WWI.

Guynemer grew up slight and sickly. Upon attempting to join the Army Air Service at the age of 20, he was promptly rejected. However, Guynemer knew since his first ride in a Farman airplane as a teenager, that his destiny could only be fulfilled in the skies.

Guynemer, despite his ailments, showed an unwavering sense of determination. He returned to the Army on three additional occasions, only to be rejected again and again.

It wasn’t until his fifth attempt that the Army appointed him as an apprentice air mechanic. After being assigned to Pau aerodrome, Guynemer sought entrance into the Air Service once more and after years of pursuing his dreams of becoming an aviator, he earned his pilot’s wings on March 10, 1915.

Only months later, in July 1915, Guynemer shot down his first enemy aircraft, beginning a spree that would not end until February of 1916 when Guynemer suffered wounds to the arm and face forcing him into temporary recovery. When Guynemer healed, he returned to the sky.

As his career continued his number of downed enemy planes increased dramatically, having surpassed 50 by August 1917, a little over two years after joining the air service. Guynemer had developed a reputation for seeking a fair fight. As aviation technology advanced and he began flying superior aircraft to that of his adversary’s, Guynemer developed an aversion to attacking inferior planes and only did so out of necessity.

German aviator Ernst Udet described his encounter with Guynemer during a dogfight. Udet, fighting for his life, suddenly experienced a jam in his gun. Unable to fire on Guynemer, he was certain he had met his end. At least, until Guynemer, recognizing Udet’s malfunctioning equipment, flew past the German pilot and waved, before flying away.

In June 1917, during a visit home to see his family, Guynemer’s father encouraged his son to retire, remarking that there is a “limit to human endurance.” To which Guynemer replied, “A limit! A limit to be passed. If one has not given everything, one has given nothing.”

Guynemer’s comment is exemplary of his warrior mindset and unconquerable spirit. And, perhaps, the very nature of that spirit pushed him beyond return. Ill with tuberculosis, Guynemer grew sick and tired in the fall of 1917. Despite what was becoming a growing depression and acute nervousness, he took to the sky once more. On September 11, 1917, Guynemer dove after a German plane, out of view from his wing-man. And when his wing-man looped back around to find him, the pilot had disappeared. His plane and his body lost to history.

Georges Guynemer pursued his dreams relentlessly. And when he made those dreams a reality, he approached life with the kind of daring vigor that can only be described as legendary. Though Guynemer died at the young age of 22, his legend continued to live large in the hearts of the French people.

Guynemer charged at enemies head on. He dared to test the limits of human endurance at a time when air-to-air combat was in its infancy. A time when aviators faced undeniable danger and near certain death every time they started their engines. But he lived by his beliefs. That if one has not given everything, one has given nothing. And under the banner of his country and the Allied forces of WWI, Guynemer, the ace warrior, gave everything.

For a full account of Guynemer’s heroic life check out the book Guynemer Knight of the Air.


Missing in Action

On the morning of 11 September 1917 Captain Georges Guynemer, commander of Escadrille N.3, took off in a Spad XIII. He did not return to the squadron airfield at Dunkirk, and was posted as missing in action in the vicinity of Poelkapelle.

The following extract is taken from a book about Guynemer, written in 1918 by Henry Bordeaux and translated by Louise Morgan Sill. It describes the events of the last hours of Georges Guynemer:

“III The Last Flight

On Tuesday, September 11, the weather was once more uncertain. But morning fogs by the seaside do not last, and the sun soon began to shine. Guynemer had had a restless night after his failures, and had brooded, as irritable people do, over the very things that made him fretful. Chasing without his new airplane—the enchanting machine which he had borne in his mind so many months, as a women bears her child, and which at last he had felt soaring under him—was no pleasure. He missed it so much that the feeling became an obsession, until he made up his mind to leave for Buc before the day was over. Indeed, he would have done so sooner had he not been haunted by the idea that he must first bring down his Boche. But since the Boche did not seem to be willing. Now he is resolved, and more calm he will go to Paris this very evening. He has only to while away the time till the train is due. The prospect in itself is quieting, and besides Major du Peuty, one of the chiefs of Aviation at Headquarters, and Major Brocard, recently appointed attaché to the Minister of Aëronautics, were coming down by the early train. They were sure to arrive at the camp between nine and ten, and a conversation with them could not but be instructive and illuminating so, better wait for them.

But, in spite of these tranquillizing thoughts, Guynemer was restless, and his face showed the sallow color which always foreboded his physical relapses. His mind was not really made up, and he would come and go, strolling from his tent to the sheds and from the sheds to his tent. He was not cross, only nervous. Suddenly he went back to the shed and examined his Vieux-Charles. Why, the machine was not so bad after all the motor and guns had been repaired, and yesterday's accident was not likely to happen again. If so, why not fly? In the absence of Heurtaux, Guynemer was in command, and once more the necessity of setting a good example forced itself upon him. Several flyers had started on scouting work already the fog was quickly lifting, the day would soon be resplendent, and the notion of duty too quickly dazzled him, like the sun. For duty had always been his motive power he had always anticipated it, from the day when he was fighting to enlist at Biarritz to this 11th of September, 1917. It was neither the passion for glory nor the craze to be an aviator which had caused him to join, but his longing to be of use and in the same way his last flights were made in obedience to his will to serve.

All at once he was really resolved. Sous-lieutenant Bozon-Verduraz was requested to accompany him, and the mechanicians wheeled the machines out. One of his comrades asked with assumed negligence: “Aren't you going to wait till Major du Peuty and Major Brocard arrive?” Guynemer's only answer was to wave towards the sky then freeing itself from its veils of fog as he himself was shaking off his hesitancy, and his friend felt that he must not be urgent. Everybody of late had noticed his nervousness, and Guynemer knew it and resented it tact was more necessary than ever with him. Let it be remembered that he was the pet, almost the spoiled child, of his service, and that it had never been easy to approach him.

Meanwhile, the two majors, who had been met at the station, were told of his nervous condition, and hurried to speak to him. They expected to reach the camp by nine o'clock, and would send for him at once. But Guynemer and Bozon-Verduraz had started at twenty-five minutes past eight.

They had left the sea behind them, flying south-east. They had reached the lines, following them over Bixchoote and the Korteker Tavern which the French troops had taken on July 31, over the Bixchoote-Langemarck road, and finally over Langemarck itself, captured by the British on August 16. Trenches, sections of broken roads, familiar to them from above, crossed and recrossed each other under them, and they descried to the north of Langemarck road the railway, or what used to be the railway, between Ypres and Thourout and the Saint-Julien-Poelkapelle road. No German patrol appeared above the French or British lines, which Guynemer and his companion lost sight of above the Maison Blanche, and they followed on to the German lines over the faint vestiges of Poelkapelle.

Guynemer's keen, long-practiced eye then saw a two-seated enemy airplane flying alone lower down than himself, and a signal was made to attract Bozon-Verduraz’ notice. A fight was certain, and this fight was the one which Fate had long decided on. The attack on a two-seater flying over its own lines, and consequently enjoying unrestricted freedom of movement, is known to be a ticklish affair, as the pilot can shoot through the propeller and the passenger in his turret rakes the whole field of vision with the exception of two angles, one in front, the other behind him under the fuselage and tail. Facing the enemy and shooting directly at him, whether upwards or downwards, was Guynemer's method but it is not easy on account of the varying speeds of the two machines, and because the pilot as well as the passenger is sheltered by the engine. So it is best to get behind and a little lower than the tail of the enemy plane.

Guynemer had frequently used this maneuver, but he preferred a front attack, thinking that if he should fail he could easily resort to the other, either by turning or by a quick tail spin. So he tried to get between the sun and the enemy but as ill-luck would have it, the sky clouded over, and Guynemer had to dive down to his opponent's level, so as to show him only the thin edges of the planes, hardly visible. But by this time the German had noticed him, and was endeavoring to get his range. Prudence advised zigzagging, for a cool-headed gunner has every chance of hitting a straight-flying airplane the enemy ought to be made to shift his aim by quick tacking, and the attack should be made from above with a full volley, with the possibility of dodging back in case the enemy is not brought down at once. But Guynemer, regardless of rules and stratagems, merely fell on his enemy like a cannon ball. He might have said, like Alexander refusing to take advantage of the dark against Darius, that he did not want to steal victory. He only counted on his lightning-like manner of charging, which had won him so many victories, and on his marksmanship. But he missed the German, who proceeded to tail spin, and was missed again by Bozon-Verduraz, who awaited him below.

What ought Guynemer to do? Desist, no doubt. But, having been imprudent in his direct attack, he was imprudent again on his new tack, and his usual obstinacy, made worse by irritation, counseled him to a dangerous course. As he dived lower and lower in hopes of being able to wheel around and have another shot, Bozon-Verduraz spied a chain of eight German one-seaters above the British lines. It was agreed between him and his chief that on such occasions he should offer himself to the newcomers, allure, entice, and throw them off the track, giving Guynemer time to achieve his fifty-fourth success, after which he should fly round again to where the fight was going on. He had no anxiety about Guynemer, with whom he had frequently attacked enemy squadrons of five, six, or even ten or twelve one-seaters. The two-seater might, no doubt, be more dangerous, and Guynemer had recently seemed nervous and below par but in a fight his presence of mind, infallibility of movement, and quickness of eye were sure to come back, and the two-seater could hardly escape its doom.

The last image imprinted on the eyes of Bozon-Verduraz was of Guynemer and the German both spinning down, Guynemer in search of a chance to shoot, the other hoping to be helped from down below. Then Bozon-Verduraz had flown in the direction of the eight one-seaters, and the group had fallen apart, chasing him. In time the eight machines became mere specks in the illimitable sky, and Bozon-Verduraz, seeing he had achieved his object, flew back to where his chief was no doubt waiting for him. But there was nobody in the empty space. Could it be that the German had escaped? With deadly anguish oppressing him, the airman descended nearer the ground to get a closer view. Down below there was nothing, no sign, none of the bustle which always follows the falling of an airplane. Feeling reassured, he climbed again and began to circle round and round, expecting his comrade. Guynemer was coming back, could not but come back, and the cause of his delay was probably the excitement of the chase. He was so reckless! Like Dorme—who one fine morning in May, on the Aisne, went out and was never heard of afterwards—he was not afraid of traveling long distances over enemy country. He must come back. It is impossible he should not come back he was beyond the reach of common accidents, invincible, immortal! This was a certitude, the very faith of the Storks, a tenet which never was questioned. The notion of Guynemer falling to a German seemed hardly short of sacrilege.

So Bozon-Verduraz waited on, making up his mind to wait as long as necessary. But an hour passed, and nobody appeared. Then the airman broadened his circles and searched farther out, without, however, swerving from the rallying-point. He searched the air like Nisus the forest in his quest of Euryalus, and his mind began to misgive him.

After two hours he was still waiting, alone, noticing with dismay that his oil was running low. One more circle! How slack the engine sounded to him! One more circle! Now it was impossible to wait any more: he must go back alone.

On landing, his first word was to ask about Guynemer.

“Not back yet!”

Bozon-Verduraz knew it. He knew that Guynemer had been taken away from him.

The telephone and the wireless sent their appeals around, airplanes started on anxious cruises. Hour followed hour, and evening came, one of those late summer evenings during which the horizon wears the tints of flowers the shadows deepened, and no news came of Guynemer. From neighboring camps French, British, or Belgian comrades arrived, anxious for news. Everywhere the latest birds had come home, and one hardly dared ask the airmen any question.

But the daily routine had to be dispatched, as if there were no mourning in the camp. All the young men there were used to death, and to sporting with it they did not like to show their sorrow but it was deep in them, sullen and fierce.

At dinner a heavy melancholy weighed upon them. Guynemer's seat was empty, and no one dreamed of taking it. One officer tried to dispel the cloud by suggesting hypotheses. Guynemer was lucky, had always been probably he was alive, a prisoner.

Guynemer a prisoner. He had said one day with a laugh, “The Boches will never get me alive,” but his laugh was terrible. No, Guynemer could not have been taken prisoner. Where was he, then?

On the squadron log, sous-lieutenant Bozon-Verduraz wrote that evening as follows:

Tuesday, September 11, 1917. Patrolled. Captain Guynemer started at 8.25 with sous-lieutenant Bozon-Verduraz. Found missing after an engagement with a biplane above Poelkapelle (Belgium).

The German Account

The German pilot Leutnant Kurt Wisseman of the Jasta 3 squadron is believed to have shot him down behind the German lines. Wisseman was himself shot down and killed 17 days later.

The disappearance of Guynemer and his machine was a considerable shock to the French people and they mourned for him. Stories that he had been found by the Germans and buried were told, but his aircraft did not appear on a list published by the German War Office of Allied planes that had been shot down behind German lines. By 9 October the British Army captured Poelkapelle after a bitter fight, but no marked burial place could be found.

On 8 November 1917 an official answer from the German Foreign Office to the Spanish Ambassador went as follows:

“Captain Guynemer fell in the course of an air fight on September 11 at ten a.m. close to the honor graveyard No. 2 south of Poelkapelle. A surgeon found that he had been shot through the head, and that the forefinger of his left hand had been shot off by a bullet. The body could neither be buried nor removed, as the place had been since the previous day under constant and heavy fire, and during the following days it was impossible to approach it. The sector authorities communicate that the shelling had plowed up the entire district, and that no trace could be found on September 12 of either the body or the machine. Fresh inquiries, which were made in order to answer the question of the Spanish Embassy, were also fruitless, as the place where Captain Guynemer fell is now in the possession of the British.

The German airmen express their regret at having been unable to render the last honors to a valiant enemy.

It should be added that investigation in this case was only made with the greatest difficulty, as the enemy was constantly attacking, fresh troops were frequently brought in or relieved, and eye witnesses had either been killed or wounded, or transferred. Our troops being continually engaged have not been in a position to give the aforesaid information sooner.” (4)

The Memorial at Poelkapelle

The sculpture of the “Guynemer Stork” on the memorial, with its wings down as in the stork emblem of Escadrille N.3, is flying in a north-easterly direction. Guynemer was last seen by Sous-Lieutenant Bozon-Verduraz flying in this direction before he went missing.


Georges Guynemer

By Stephen Sherman, Aug. 2001. Updated April 15, 2012.

"D ead on the field of honor, September 11, 1917. A legendary hero fallen in glory from the sky after three years of hard and incessant struggle, he will remain the purest symbol of national ideals for his indomitable tenacity of purpose, his ferocious verve and sublime gallantry. Animated by an invincible faith in victory, he has bequeathed to the French soldier an imperishable heritage which consecrates the spirit of sacrifice and will surely inspire the noblest emulation."

So reads Guynemer's inscription in the Panthéon in Paris.

Youth

He was a sickly child, pampered by his mother and sisters. Born Georges Marie Ludovic Guynemer in 1894, he was so slight and unimpressive at age 20, that French Army doctors wouldn't accept him for service in 1914. His father's influence placed him with the Aviation service as an apprentice mechanic, at Pau airfield.

He persuaded Captain Bernard Thierry to help him enroll as a pilot trainee in March, 1915.

March, 1915

Like other great WWI aces, the circumstances of his training have been lost in myth, legend, and hearsay. Friends recalled his persistence, working the instruments for hours, practicing take-offs and landings, and show-boating over his native village.

June, 1915

He was assigned to Escadrille M.S. (Morane-Saulnier) 3, stationed at Vauciennes, as a corporal-pilot. An irrepressible young man, on one patrol he flew right at the German artillery, asked his observer to photograph the exploding shells, and on landing, excitedly showed his CO the holes in his aircraft.

His first aerial victory came on July 19, 1915, while piloting a two-seater. As he described it, he and his gunner, Guerder, sighted a German over Coeuvres. He gave chase but the Boche flew away in his faster plane. Suddenly another dot appeared in the distance and Guynemer flew toward it. At about two miles, he saw that it was an Aviatik (probably a B-I), its pilot intent on his observation duties. Over Soissons, Guynemer engaged the Aviatik in combat for about ten minutes. He stayed below and behind his twisting quarry, while Guerder fired his Hotchkiss machine gun, which jammed repeatedly. At one point the German hit Guerder in the hand. On Guerder's "115th shot," Guynemer was elated to see the enemy pilot slump down, hit, and the observer throw up his hands in despair. The Aviatik flamed and went down in no-man's-land.

Guynemer and Guerder were both decorated with the Médaille Militaire.

And shortly thereafter, Guynemer transferred to les Cigognes, the Storks, Escadrille N.3 (Nieuport Squadron 3). The Storks were equipped with the new Nieuport 11 Bébé which featured an upper-wing mounted machine gun that fired over the propeller. Fast (97 MPH) and maneuverable the Nieuport 11 could stand up to the Fokker monoplanes.

Guynemer did not score again for almost six months. On December 8, 1915, flying a Nieuport, he caught a couple German planes over Compiègne, fired on the first one at 50 meters, closed to only 15 meters and fired again, putting the enemy airplane into a spin. Then the young French flier turned his attention to the second plane, which escaped, but in that instant, he lost track of his first victim. He circled vainly, looking for the wreckage that would prove his accomplishment. Low on fuel and late to meet his parents (for Sunday Mass), he touched down at his aerodrome. He rushed to his parents.

"Papa, I have lost my Boche," he cried, "I shot down an aeroplane and I don't want to lose him. I must report to the squadron. You go out and find him for me he's out there someplace. Toward Bois Carré." Guynemer duly reported and his father searched and found the German flier's body. For this aerial success, Georges was promoted to sergeant.

In the next two weeks, he shot down two more planes, a Fokker two-seater and a fixed-gun model. He went on Christmas leave with four victories and wearing the Legion of Honor medal.

He was developing into a skilled ace. His marksmanship had improved and so had his knowledge of his airplane. Before each patrol, he inspected it in detail, each wire stay, each bolt, every bit of fabric, and the alignment of its Lewis gun. His flying style also matured. He flew straight at his enemies, only engaging in aerobatics as a last resort.

"My method consists in attacking almost point blank." he said. "It is more risky, but everything lies in maneuvering so as to remain in the dead angle of fire."

March, 1916

By March, Georges was one of France's top aces he had eight victories he had been promoted to second lieutenant. And he was flying the latest scout plane, a Nieuport 17, equipped with a synchronized machine gun and powered by a 120 HP Le Rhône rotary engine. His escadrille was assigned to Verdun, for the great battle there.

On the 12th, the new aircraft almost did him in. He was chasing a pair of two-seaters, and scared one away "with lead in his wings." Then, attacking the second, his powerful Nieuport overshot it. The German fired and Guynemer took two bullets in his left arm and another cut his face. Streaming blood and flying with one hand, he dived 1,000 feet, pulling out just above the ground. He landed roughly, practically destroying his airplane, and with no further injuries. But he was out of action for three months.

Returning in June, over the Somme battlefield, he raised his score to 18 by September.

October, 1916

Late in October, the new Spad S.VII was introduced. Designed around a Hispano-Suiza V-8, 150 HP engine, fitted into a round front radiator, the Spad was an attractive, streamlined airplane, capable of 122 MPH and could reach 3,000 meters in only 15 minutes. The S.VII carried a single, synchronized Vickers machine gun.

Guynemer achieved rapid success in the Spad, shooting down two Albatros fighters, two Albatros two-seaters, two L.V.G.'s, and a Fokker between November 9th and 27th. Les Cigognes won a second escadrille citation. Its pilots led the French aces by year-end, Guynemer had 25, Nungesser 21, Dorme 15, and Heurteaux also 15. He achieved a rare feat by forcing down an intact twin-engined Gotha bomber. The Russians bestowed the Cross of St. George on him, and he was promoted again.

His dubbed his personal Spad "Vieux Charles," which he flew one morning in March, 1917, to down a couple Albatros two-seaters. That afternoon, he went up again, demonstrating for two Nieuport pilots how to shoot down an Albatros D-II scout. Using just ten bullets, he showed them how it was done. The D-II crash-landed its pilot turned out to be Lt. von Hausen, nephew of a German general.

May, 1917

He had his best day this month, bagging four German planes, bringing his score to 45. He went on leave and refused his father's advice to move to a training assignment. "It will be said that I ceased to fight because I have won all the awards."

July, 1917

He returned to combat, flying Spads, which were still troublesome. In one experiment, a 37 millimeter cannon was mounted through Vieux Charles's propeller shaft (anticipating the American P-39 Airacobra of WWII). Guynemer tried this weapon out on July 16. He encountered an Albatros D-III and blew it apart with the Spad's cannon. But the recoil was tremendous and the shells' fumes were poisonous thus the experiment was given up.

By August, Guynemer was suffering, in part from tuberculosis but also from the fighter pilot's malaise, a cafard, the French called it. (Perhaps today it would be called "post-traumatic stress syndrome.") Nothing seemed to go right. His personal Spad was being worked on. Its replacement was a "lemon." Guynemer's guns jammed. The poor weather limited his flying time. He complained about his bad luck, and snarled at his comrades. His disease showed in his complexion and twice caused him to faint while aloft. When a doctor prescribed rest at a nearby villa, Georges left after a few days and began working on airplanes.

By August 20, he had reached fifty-three victories.

September, 1917

The morning of September 11 was foggy. Two big shots from French aviation headquarters were expected: Majors du Peuty and Brocard (the former CO of les Cigognes). Despite their impending arrival, at 8:30 AM Guynemer took off with Lieutenants Bozon-Verduraz and Deullin. He flew Vieux Charles, which had been tuned and its guns checked. The three fliers were seen over the Langemarck Road and then above the Saint-Julien-Poelcapelle Road. From there they crossed the lines and picked up a German two-seater. Guynemer and Bozon-Verduraz jockeyed around to out-maneuver the Boche, but its pilot put the plane into a spin and eluded them. Bozon-Verduraz noticed a flight of German scouts (Fokker D-V's or Albatros D-III's?) approaching. He flew straight into them, scattering them. He circled and returned, only to find empty sky. Nothing. He criss-crossed the area, staying aloft as long as he could, but no Guynemer. On landing, Bozon-Verdurqaz asked about Guynemer, but he had not landed.

Two days later the French announced that their great ace was missing. Conflicting reports came in from the German side: according to one, Guynemer had been shot down on the day before he had gone up. Then the Germans announced that Lt. Kurt Wisseman, a two-seater pilot, had downed Guynemer. Three weeks later the British launched a ground attack in the Poelcapelle area, preceeded by the usual artillery barrage then the Germans counter-attacked and regained the area. Perhaps the wreckage of Guynemer's Spad was blasted into oblivion in the fought-over ground. Or perhaps, as a French journalist explained to the schoolchildren, "Captain Guynemer flew so high he could not come down again."

Another of the Osprey Aircraft of the Aces series, the second World War One topic. Forty colorful profile plates. Wonderful original period photos, including two of Albert Ball that I have never seen elsewhere. Two lengthy chapters on British and French aces. The book covers many aces with fewer than 15 kills, so it goes beyond the famous aces like Ball, Nungesser, Guynemer, and Rickenbacker.

It covers the varieties of the Nieuport (11, 17, 28, etc.) in detail, down to the machine gun on the Type 11: a Lewis gun, of .303 caliber, carrying 476 rounds in its drum, and was mounted on the upper wing by a "Foster" mount, so named for the RFC sergeant who invented it.


Capt. Georges Guynemer. Portrait, from the life, by Henri Farré. The famous French Ace of Aces, who, before his death in action over the German lines, fought 800 battles and brought down 74 Boche airplanes, of which 54 are officially recorded.

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Print, Capitaine Georges Guynemer, CAPT. GEORGES GUYNEMER. PORTRAIT, FROM THE LIFE, BY HENRI FARRÉ. THE FAMOUS FRENCH ACE OF ACES, WHO, BEFORE HIS DEATH IN ACTION OVER THE GERMAN LINES, FOUGHT 800 BATTLES AND BROUGHT DOWN 74 BOCHE AIRPLANES, OF WHICH 54 ARE OFFICIALLY RECORDED.

Uncolored lithograph of a portrait of Captain Georges Guynemer. This print is after a painting by Henri Farré. The print is adhered to a stiff paper backing. Information about the print and Guynemer is printed on the backing below where the print has been attached.

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this media. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

Print, Capitaine Georges Guynemer, CAPT. GEORGES GUYNEMER. PORTRAIT, FROM THE LIFE, BY HENRI FARRÉ. THE FAMOUS FRENCH ACE OF ACES, WHO, BEFORE HIS DEATH IN ACTION OVER THE GERMAN LINES, FOUGHT 800 BATTLES AND BROUGHT DOWN 74 BOCHE AIRPLANES, OF WHICH 54 ARE OFFICIALLY RECORDED.

Uncolored lithograph of a portrait of Captain Georges Guynemer. This print is after a painting by Henri Farré. The print is adhered to a stiff paper backing. Information about the print and Guynemer is printed on the backing below where the print has been attached.

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Uncolored lithograph of a portrait of Captain Georges Guynemer. This print is after a painting by Henri Farré. The print is adhered to a stiff paper backing. Information about the print and Guynemer is printed on the backing below where the print has been attached.


Georges Guynemer

Georges Marie Ludovic Jules Guynemer syntyi Pariisissa 24. joulukuuta 1894. Hänen isänsä oli eläkkeelle oleva armeijan upseeri Paul Guynemer. Suku oli nk. sotilassuku.

George kävi koulunsa kotona kunnes joutui Lycee d' Compiegneen, jossa ei pärjännyt. Hänet siirrettiin Stanislasin lukioon. Hän ei panostanut koulunkäyntiin, oli häirikkö ja tappelija. Teini-ikäisenä hän harrasti rullaluistelua, miekkailua ja kivääriammuntaa. Näillä on voinut olla hävittäjälentäjän taitoja kehittävää vaikutusta.

Hän tutustui tuolloin Jean Krebsiin, joka oli Panhard Motor Companyn johtajan poika, ja yhdessä he alkoivat rakennella mm. polttomoottoria. Kiinnostus lentämiseen alkoi tästä. I maailmansodassa Krebs kuoli maahansyöksyssä.

17-vuotiaana vuonna 1911 Guynemer näki osan Circuit of Europe Air Race-lentokilvasta. Samana vuonna hän lensi Farman-koneen kyydissä. Päästyään koulusta vuonna 1912 hän pyrki l'Ecole Polytechniqueen. Huonon terveyden takia hän lopetti opiskelun kesällä 1914. Hän vetäytyi perheen huvilalle Biarritziin.

Sodan sytyttyä Guynemer pyrki lentäjäksi viisi kertaa muttei tullut valituksi. Hän matkasi Pau’hun, jossa sai suhteilla pääsyn kapteeni Bernard-Thierryn haastatteluun. Täten hän pääsi mekaanikkokoulutukseen. Tätä seurasi menestyksellinen pyrkiminen lentäjäksi, jossa isän kirjeet päättäjille olivat avainasemassa.

Hän lensi ensi kertaa 26. tammikuuta 1915 Bleriot "Pingouin"-koneella. Hän sai lentoluvan (numero 1832) huhtikuussa 1915, jolloin hänet ylennettiin korpraaliks (Caporal). Hänet siirrettiin lentäjäreserviin, joka toimi Le Bourget’ssa.

8. kesäkuuta 1915 hänet siirrettiin Escadrille MS3-rintamayksikköön, joka oli tuolloin Vauciennes’ssä. Yksikkö lensi Morane type L (yksitasoinen) koneilla. Guynemerin nimikkokone periytyi Charles Bonnardilta, joka oli nimennyt sen "Vieux Charles". Guynemer säilytti ”Vanha Jaakko”-nimen tällä ja useimmilla muilla koneillaan.

Ensimmäinen ilmavoitto tuli 19. heinäkuuta 1915 5 km Soissonsin yläpuolella. Ilmataistelu kesti 10 minuuttia. Koneen ampui alas kk-ampuja, Mecanician Gueder. Alasammuttu kone oli Aviatik, josta Guynemer haki palan muistoksi. Kaksi päivää myöhemmin hänet ylennettiin kersantiksi ja hän sai kunniamaininnan (Palme). 4. elokuuta hän ja Gueder saivat Medaille Militairen.

Syyskuussa lentoura oli loppua – hän teki pakkolaskun ei-kenenkään maalle. 29. syyskuuta ja 10. lokakuuta 1915 hän osallistui eritystehtäviin vieden Ranskan agentteja Saksan rintaman taakse.

Joulukuussa 1915 Escadrille MS3 sai uuden nimen N3. Hän sai yksipaikkaisen Nieuport 10-koneen. 14. joulukuuta hänen koneensa vaurioitui pahasti ilmataistelussa. Jouluna hän sai Legion d'Honneur’in. Hänestä oli tullut kersantti ja yksi Ranskan palkituimmista lentäjistä.

Hän pääsi sous-lieutenant’iksi 4. maaliskuuta 1916. Tällöin hänellä oli kahdeksan ilmavoittoa. Verdunin yläpuolella hän haavoittui. Palatessaan puolikuntoisena rintamalle hän kärsi myös hermostollisista vaivoista. Hänet pakotettiin lomalle. Palatessaan hän sai Nieuport 17-koneen. Yksikkö, jota käytettiin kuten ilma-asetta yleensä I maailmansodassa propagandassa, oli saanut komeamman nimen: Eskadrille N3 oli eliittiyksikön, Groupe de Combat 12, osa (lesCigognes – haikarat). Capitaine Brocard, Esc N3:n komentaja, kuvasi Guynemeriä "..loistavimmaksia haikarakseni". 23. syyskuuta 1916 Guynemer ampui kolme konetta alas yhdessä päivässä. Hän lensi tässä vaiheessa SPAD 7-hävittäjällä.

Hän sai 30. ilmavoittonsa tammikuun 1917 loppuun mennessä. Hän lensi parhaiten yksittäishyökkääjänä ilman siipimiehen tukea. SPADilla hän lensi parimuodostelmassa ja ammuntaa nopeassa syöksyssä, joka oli pikemminkin toisen maailmansodan taktiikkaa. 6. kesäkuuta 1917 Guynemer taisteli Ernst Udetia vastaan. Hän jätti Udetin ampumatta, koska Udetin koneen konekiväärit eivät toimineet.

Hänet ylennettiin Capitaine’ksi 18. helmikuuta 1917 ja hänen vilkkain toimintansa alkoi. Hän sai kolme ilmavoittoa 16. maaliskuuta ja 25. toukokuuta. Hän ampui kaksi konetta alas 5. kesäkuuta ja sai viikkoa myöhemmin Officier de la Legion d'Honneur –mitalin. Georges Guynemer lensi yli 600 sotalentoa. Hänet ammuttiin alas seitsemän kertaa. Hän haavoittui kahdesti ja sai 26 kunniamainintaa. Hän saavutti 53 vahvistettua ilmavoittoa, mutta todennäköisesti ilmavoittoja oli noin 100. Täten hän oli kenties I maailmansodan paras hävittäjälentäjä. Hänellä oli hermojen kanssa vaikeuksia pitkin sotaa. Hän kaatui sodan lopussa Jasta 3:n luutnantti Kurt Wissemanin ampumana.

Guynemerin muistomerkki on Pariisissa (26 Boulevard Victor HQ Armee de l'Air) ja Pantheonin kryptassa on marmoritaulu, jossa on Georges Guynemerin nimi ja Legion d'Honneur teksti.


George Guynemer - History

I had a discussion/debate on a private Xfire chat with three other friends of mine the other day, and we were talking about the Great War. Well, as the night wore on, one of them mentioned Guynemer and what happened to him. It's gotten me more and more interested in the man (and I'm not much of a fanboy of the French pilots. save for Nungesser) since he's one of the few famous aces whose status was never accounted for during the war.

As it stands, can anyone tell me EXACTLY what happened the date Guynemer was last seen? I know that he was last seen attacking an Aviatik, but does anyone have any other information (rumors, claims, etc.)?

Guynemer was never found and neither was his plane. Does anyone else think that the body might have been destroyed, along with the plane, by bombing or shelling? I've somewhat come to that conclusion, and I know I'm not the first one, either, but does anyone else think it could very well be true? As I said, I'm not extremely fond of the French aces or their history. I stick to the Germans and British ones.


Watch the video: La Petite Histoire: Georges Guynemer, légende de laviation française