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Flying for France With the American escadrille at Verdun   By: (1887-1917)

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and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.


With the American Escadrille at Verdun



Sergeant Pilot in the French Flying Corps

Illustrated from photographs through the kindness of Mr. Paul Rockwell



Who having lost a splendid son in the French Army has given to a great number of us other Americans in the war the tender sympathy and help of a mother.


Introduction By F. C. P.


I. Verdun II. From Verdun to the Somme III. Personal Letters from Sergeant McConnell IV. How France Trains Pilot Aviators V. Against Odds


James R. McConnell Frontispiece

Some of the Americans Who are Flying for France

Two Members of the American Escadrille, of the French Flying Service, Who Were Killed Flying For France

"Whiskey." The Lion and Mascot of the American Flying Squadron in France

Kiffin Rockwell, of Asheville, N.C., Who Was Killed in an Air Duel Over Verdun

Sergeant Lufbery in one of the New Nieuports in Which He Convoyed the Bombardment Fleet Which Attacked Oberndorf


One day in January, 1915, I saw Jim McConnell in front of the Court House at Carthage, North Carolina. "Well," he said, "I'm all fixed up and am leaving on Wednesday." "Where for?" I asked. "I've got a job to drive an ambulance in France," was his answer.

And then he went on to tell me, first, that as he saw it the greatest event in history was going on right at hand and that he would be missing the opportunity of a lifetime if he did not see it. "These Sand Hills," he said "will be here forever, but the war won't; and so I'm going." Then, as an afterthought, he added: "And I'll be of some use, too, not just a sight seer looking on; that wouldn't be fair."

So he went. He joined the American ambulance service in the Vosges, was mentioned more than once in the orders of the day for conspicuous bravery in saving wounded under fire, and received the much coveted Croix de Guerre.

Meanwhile, he wrote interesting letters home. And his point of view changed, even as does the point of view of all Americans who visit Europe. From the attitude of an adventurous spirit anxious to see the excitement, his letters showed a new belief that any one who goes to France and is not able and willing to do more than his share to give everything in him toward helping the wounded and suffering has no business there.

And as time went on, still a new note crept into his letters; the first admiration for France was strengthened and almost replaced by a new feeling a profound conviction that France and the French people were fighting the fight of liberty against enormous odds. The new spirit of France the spirit of the "Marseillaise," strengthened by a grim determination and absolute certainty of being right pervades every line he writes. So he gave up the ambulance service and enlisted in the French flying corps along with an ever increasing number of other Americans.

The spirit which pervades them is something above the spirit of adventure that draws many to war; it is the spirit of a man who has found an inspiring duty toward the advancement of liberty and humanity and is glad and proud to contribute what he can.

His last letters bring out a new point the assurance of victory of a just cause. "Of late," he writes, "things are much brighter and one can feel a certain elation in the air. Victory, before, was a sort of academic certainty; now, it is felt."

F. C. P.

November 10, 1916.




Beneath the canvas of a huge hangar mechanicians are at work on the motor of an airplane. Outside, on the borders of an aviation field, others loiter awaiting their aƫrial charge's return from the sky. Near the hangar stands a hut shaped tent. In front of it several short winged biplanes are lined up; inside it three or four young men are lolling in wicker chairs.

They wear the uniform of French army aviators... Continue reading book >>

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