Passing through Poelkapelle, heading for home after a long day tracing the old front lines south from Nieuwpoort down to Dixmuide*, Baldrick was persuaded to make one final stop, at this fine memorial to the French airman Georges Guynemer.
*More, much more, of this at a later date.
Now I’m not here to give you a history lesson on the career of Capitaine Georges Marie Ludovic Jules Guynemer. Suffice to say that he was a distinguished French flier, highly decorated, with fifty three confirmed kills to his name, when he went missing in the Poelkapelle area on the morning of 11th September 1917.
Despite an extensive search by his comrades at the time, and a subsequent search for the site of his grave when the British took the village of Poelkapelle after heavy fighting in early October 1917, on the assumption that he had crashed behind enemy lines and been buried by the Germans, Guynemer’s body was never found.
The stork atop the memorial, the insignia of Guynemer’s squadron, points to the north east, the direction in which he was said to be flying when last seen.
Guynemer has never been forgotten. As far as I know, the stork emblem is still used by the French Air Force’s Guynemer fighter squadron to this day.
Much of this post was written on 11th September 2014, 97 years to the day after Guynemer’s disappearance.
Field Marshall Lord Plumer: “He is not missing , he is here.”
And, from a Higher Court : “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And yet not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
Airman Guynemer is in safe arms tonight. Not lost, not alone, and clearly from your work not forgotten.
“He is not missing , he is here.” I used Plumer’s words on the Menin Gate post some time back. He of course uttered them at the unveiling.
A small addendum if I may: the surname Guynemer strongly suggests his ancestors were in fact Flemish (as is the case with many who live in that north-western part of France that borders Belgium, commonly known as “French Flanders”).
Ah, good Sir Balders. You and your small addendums!
Addenda, Sir. Addenda.
Sorry old man, just being facetious! Addendums, addenda, they’re still small. Actually I think this joke has probably run its course. Lol.