Guynemer monument


The "unknown soldier" is connected to every war. Hundreds, thousands disappeared in the First World War as nameless victims of violence. But some of them live on in history. One of them is the legendary French pilot Captain Georges GUYNEMER. His name has become a symbol of courage for the French. He was a pioneer of French aviation in wartime. Air battles were still in their infancy but Guynemer managed to bring down more than 50 German planes. He belonged to an elite corps of the French Air Force: the 'escadrille des cigognes' . On the 11th of September 1917, Guynemer disappeared above Poelkapelle.

The monument that was erected is very present at Poelkapelle. On top of a high column stands a bronze stork, revering to his regiment.

A laurel wreath adorns the column which is suspended in the direction of the Allied front and the last day order of Guynemer is inscribed in the stone.

Georges Guynemer was born on the 24th of December 1894 in Paris. His father, a former officer, let his little son first study in Compiègne, before continuing his studies at the polytechnic in Paris. His poor health forced him to interrupt his studies in 1914. When war broke out in August 1914, he and his family enjoyed the healthy sea air in Biarritz. From then on, Guynemer had only one goal: to enlist and to defend his country by becoming a pilot. He enlisted in the army up to five times, but was rejected each time for medical reasons. Finally, on November 23, 1914, he was admitted to the flying school in Pau as a student mechanic. But it was the life as a pilot he was attracted to.

On January 26, 1915, he became a student pilot and his ultimate dream came true on March 10, 1915: his first flight. Barely 10 days later he mutate to the flying school of d'Avord, where he managed to become his pilot's license on the 26st of April. His efforts were rewarded, because on June 8, he was assigned to the famous 3° "Escadrille des Cigognes", led by Captain Brocard. During his first reconnaissance it was already clear that he had an exceptional hunting instinct and on July 19, together with his mechanic Guerder, who operated the machine gun, he managed to bring down his first "Aviatik". At the beginning of 1916, he was deployed over the battlefield of Verdun, where the Germans ruled in the air. He was seriously wounded on March 13th and had to recover for several weeks. Later, he was part of the battle of the Somme, where he won 21 official victories in 6 months! Less than 23 years old, Guynemer was Captain and Officer of the "Légion d Honneur". Capitaine Guynemer became very famous. He became a hero of the Nation and he inspired the soldiers in the trenches. A legend during his life! His victories piled up. On May 25, 1917, in one day, he took down no less than four enemy planes, two of them in one minute. In the meantime, a legendary image of the "As" hero was created in the press.

In mid-July 1917, the squadron moved to the northern French town of Saint-Pol sur Mer to support General Anthoine's first army in the fierce fighting in Flanders. Guynemer achieved his 50th victory there. The petite Guynemer, strengthened by unbridled energy, wants to prove himself here again, because the supreme command had plans to keep Guynemer on the ground, as an instructor. On September 11, 1917, he took off for the last time aboard his Spad XIII ( named as the "Vieux Charles"), accompanied by Lieutenant Bozon-Verduraz. A real aerial battle unfolds above Poelkapelle. The lieutenant loses sight of his comrade and Guynemer... never returned.

“ On September 11, 1917, Guynemer fell on the field of honour. He was a legendary hero, who died in all his glory after three years of bitter fighting. His devastated faith in victory leaves the French soldier with a lasting remembrance of selfless sacrifice and noble rivalry".

Last citation of Guynemer as it is read on all French airbases on September 11th and on all commemorations.