Georges Guynemer
Georges Marie Ludovic Jules Guynemer
  • Country: France
  • Rank: Capitaine
  • Service: French Air Service
  • Units: Spa3
  • Victories: 53
  • Date Of Birth: December 24, 1894
  • Place of Birth: Paris
  • Date Of Death: September 11, 1917
  • Place of Death: South of Poelcapelle, Belgium
  • Memorial: Poelcapple, Belgium

Guynemer was France's most popular ace. He entered the French Air Service in November of 1914 and served as a mechanic before receiving a Pilot's Brevet in April of 1915. Despite his frail physical appearance, he took part in more than 600 aerial combats and was shot down seven times and survived. An excellent marksman and highly skilled pilot, he was hailed as the French Ace of Aces. Guynemer received letters from women proposing marriage, requests from school children for his autograph and was often followed through the streets.

One of the first pilots to receive a SPAD S.VII, he called his plane Vieux Charles (Old Charles). On May 25, 1917, he engaged and shot down four enemy aircraft with Old Charles in one day. Looking for ways to improve the performance of his aircraft, Guynemer armed a SPAD S.VII with a single-shot 37 mm canon that fired through a hollowed out propeller shaft. He called this impractical aircraft his Magic Machine. Despite the fumes that filled the cockpit and the recoil of the canon, during the summer of 1917 he shot down at least two enemy aircraft with his Magic Machine.

On September 11, 1917, Guynemer was last seen attacking a two-seater Aviatik near Poelcapelle, northwest of Ypres. Almost a week later, it was publicly announced in a London paper that he was missing in action. Shortly thereafter, a German newspaper reported Guynemer had been shot down by Kurt Wissemann of Jasta 3. For many months, the French population refused to believe he was dead. Guynemer's body was never found.

Quotes

"... Indomitable tenacity, ferocious energy, sublime courage: animated by the most resolute faith in victory, he bequeaths to the French soldier an imperishable memory which will exalt the spirit of sacrifice." Memorial to Guynemer Médaille Militaire

"A pilot of great spirit and daring, willing to carry out the most perilous assignments. After a relentless chase he engaged a German aircraft in combat which ended with its bursting into flames and crashing." Médaille Militaire, July 21, 1915

Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur

"Pilot of great gallantry, a model of devotion to duty and courage. During the course of the past six months he 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." Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur citation, December 24, 1915

Officier de la Légion d'Honneur

"Officer of the elite, a fighting pilot as skilful as he is audacious, he 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 May 25, 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 shot down, twenty citations, two wounds." Officier de la Légion d'Honneur citation, June 11, 1917