Thursday, 12 July 2012

"The Sentinel of Verdun"

On my last post I made a slight diversion over the colour of the Red Baron’s plane. Manfried von Richthofen gained notoriety over the battlefields of France piloting his Red Fokker Dr.1.  
Despite this von Richthofen was not the first to take to the skies in a Red Aeroplane. That accolade belongs to French aviator Jean Navarre.

Jean Navarre (Wiki)

Navarre served  in the French armee d’l’aire throughout the First World War becoming one of the first aces in history aerial combat. The combination of this reputation and flying recognisable red Nieuport 11 ‘Babe’ designed  to challenge and intimidate the enemy in the skies over Verdun, well before Richthofen  would gain notoriety as the 'Red Baron'.  Furthermore the sight Navarre’s aircraft to men on the ground engaged in the struggle for the fortress at Verdun proved to be a great boost to morale. This is apparent by the nickname Navarre earned;"The Sentinel of Verdun".

Jean Navarre's Nieuport 11 'Babe' (Wiki)

Combat operations and the loss of his brother took a terrible toll on Narvarre he suffered from what today would be diagnosed as Post traumatic stress disorder. Despite this he survived the war.

However, his end is possibly the most tragic part of the story.  In response to the High Command’s order that French aviators should march the victory parade on the Champs Elysees and not fly over it. This was unacceptable and taken as an insult by the veteran pilots, who responded by selecting Navarre to fly under the Arc de Triomphe during the festivities in an act of defiance to this perceived snub. While practicing the stunt the week before Narvarre’s plane crashed killing him. He was 23 years of age.      


  1. Very interesting! Thanks for posting this.

  2. Agree with Curt!
    An interesting post, thanks for sharing!

  3. Many thanks for the kind remarks chaps , I am glad you like it.