Tag Archives: World War II

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (29 June 1900–31 July 1944)

Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger, comte de Saint-Exupéry, Officier de la Légion d’honneur. (Galerie Gallimard)

29 June 1900: Famed French aviator, poet and author, Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger, comte de Saint Exupéry, was born at No. 8 rue Payrat,¹ Lyon, Departement du Rhône, Rhône-Alpes, France. He was the third of five children of Jean Marc Martin comte de Saint-Exupéry and Andrée Louise Marie de Boyer de Fonscolombe de la Mole, comtesse de Saint-Exupéry. As the oldest son, Antoine inherited his father’s title of nobility.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. (Succession de Saint-Exupéry d’Agay via www.antoinedesaintexupery.com)

While serving in the French cavalry, Saint-Exupéry took private flying lessons. He made his first solo flight 9 July 1921, and soon earned a civil pilot’s certificate. Now eligible for military flight training, he was transferred to the Aéronautique Militaire in Morocco, where he was awarded his military aviator’s certificate, No. 19398, 23 December 1921.

Saint-Exupéry was promoted to caporal 5 February 1922. He underwent further training as an officer cadet and received a commission as a sous-lieutenant 10 October 1922.

On 1 May 1923, Sous-lieutenant Saint-Exupéry crashed a Hanriot HD-14 trainer on takeoff. A passenger was severely injured. Saint-Exupery was grounded. The accident was caused by pilot error, and he released from military service, 5 June 1923.

In 1922, Caporal Saint-Exupéry was appointed élèveofficier de réserve (a reserve officer cadet). In this image, Saint-Exupéry is wearing the badge of a military pilot. (Succession de Saint-Exupéry d’Agay via www.antoinedesaintexupery.com)

Saint-Exupéry was engaged to marry Mlle. Louise de Vilmorin. Because of the crash, he promised that he would give up aviation and found employment as an office worker. The engagement ended and he went back to flying.

In 1926, he joined la Compagnie Générale d’Entreprise Aéronautique (C.G.E.A.), which in 1927 would become Compagnie générale aéropostale, (C.G.A.)— Aéropostale,—the predecessor of Air France, in North Africa and South America.

“Transport of the mails, transport of the human voice, transport of the flickering pictures—in this century as in others our highest accomplishments still have the single aim of bring men together.”Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 1939

Mme. Consuelo Saint-Exupéry

Comte de Saint-Exupéry married Sra. Consuelo Suncin-Sandoval Zeceña, 22 April 1932, at Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France.

During this time, Saint-Exupéry also began his career as an author. His first book, Courrier Sud, was published in 1929. Vol de Nuit (English edition: Night Flight), was published in 1931. His autobiographical Wind, Sand and Stars, published in 1939, is very highly recommended.

When his friend, Henri Guillamet, went down in the Cordillera de los Andes, about 123 miles (198 kilometers) west of Mendoza, Argentina, and then walked out over the next five days, Saint-Exupéry wrote:

“What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. It is always the same step, but you have to take it.”

— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Terre des hommes (English edition: Wind, Sand and Stars), translated from the French by Lewis Galantière, Harcourt Brace & Company, New York, Chapter II at Page 37

Antonine de Saint-Exupery and Andre Prevost with the Caudron C.630 Simoun, F-ANRY, before the flight to Saigon.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (center) and André Prévost with the Caudron C.630 Simoun, F-ANRY, before the flight to Saigon. (Succession de Saint-Exupéry d’Agay via Le Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace)

On 7 April 1930, Saint-Exupéry was appointed Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur.

On 29 December 1935, while flying his red and white Caudron C.630 Simoun, F-ANRY, in a race from Paris, France, to Sài Gòn, French Indo-China, Saint-Exupéry crashed in the Sahara desert. He and his mechanic, André Prévost, were marooned without food or water. They wandered aimlessly for four days and were near death when they were rescued by a Bedouin tribesman. Saint-Exupéry wrote about the experience in Wind, Sand and Stars, and it was the inspiration for his classic novel, The Little Prince.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry stands next to th ewreck of his Caudron C.630 Simoun, F-ANRY, in the Sahara
“What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. It is always the same step, but you have to take it.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry stands next to the wreck of his Caudron C.630 Simoun, F-ANRY, in the Sahara, 1935. (Unattributed)

Saint-Exupéry traveled to Spain in 1937 to observe the Spanish Revolution. He was horrified by what he experienced. “War is not an adventure,” he wrote. “It is a disease.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was promoted to Officier de la Légion d’honneur in 1939.

Following the outbreak of World War II, Saint-Exupéry returned to service with the Armée del’Air, flying in a reconnaissance squadron. With the surrender of France to the German invaders, he fled to Portugal. Saint-Exupéry sailed from Lisbon 20 December 1940 aboard S.S. Siboney, arriving at the Port of New York, 31 December.

In April 1943, he returned to the war flying with the Free French Air Force, the Forces Aériennes Françaises Libres.

He flew a twin-engine Lockheed F-5B, an unarmed photographic reconnaissance variant of the P-38J Lightning fighter. His squadron, 31e escadre, Groupe 2/33, operated from Borgo, an airfield on the northeast coast of Corsica.

Antoine de Saint Exupery in hi sLockheed F-5B Lightning reconnaissance airplane, circa 1944. (John e Annamaria Phillips Foundation)
Commandant Antoine de Saint Exupéry, Groupe de Chasse 11/33, Forces Aériennes Françaises Libres, in a Lockheed F-5B Lightning photo reconnaissance airplane, circa 1944. “War is not an adventure. It is a disease.” (John e Annamaria Phillips Foundation) 
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry flying his Lockheed F-5B-1-LO Lightning near Alghero on the coast of Sardinia, 1944.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry flying a Lockheed F-5B-1-LO Lightning near Alghero on the coast of Sardinia, 1944. (John e Annamaria Phillips Foundation)

Commandant Saint-Exupéry disappeared with his Lockheed F-5B-1-LO Lightning photo reconnaissance airplane (serial number 42-68223) while on a mission to Grenoble and Annecy, at the base of the French Alps, 31 July 1944.

His identity bracelet was found in 1998 by a fisherman, off the southern coastline of France. Wreckage of the F-5B was located on the sea floor in May 2000.

Commandant Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
“Life has meaning only if one barters it day by day for something other than itself.” Commandant Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Free French Air Force, in the cockpit of a Lockheed F-5B Lightning, 1944. (Photograph by John Phillips, LIFE Magazine)
Courrier sud, nrf, Paris, 1929, first edition. (Edition-Originale.com)
Night Flight, first edition in English, 1932 (Rulon-Miller Books)
Night Flight, first edition in English, 1932 (Rulon-Miller Books)
Terre des Hommes, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Nrf, Paris, 1939. Signed First Edition, 7 000 €. Réf: 59758. (Edition-Originale.com)
Wind, Sand and Stars, by Antoine de Saint Exupery, 1939 (Bauman Rare Books)
Wind, Sand and Stars, first edition, 1939 (Bauman Rare Books)
Flight to Arras, first edition, 1942 (Bauman Rare Books)
Flight to Arras, first edition, 1942 (Bauman Rare Books)
Le Petit Prince, first edition, 1943. (Bauman's Rare Books)
Le Petit Prince, first edition, 1943. (Bauman Rare Books) 
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and the Little Prince Statue by Christiane Guillaumet, Place Bellecour in Lyon
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and the Little Prince,
statue by Christiane Guillaumet, Place Bellecour in Lyon

¹ Later renamed Rue de Saint-Exupéry.

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

28 June 1945

B-24M-30-FO 44-51928, the very last of 18,482 B-24 Liberator bombers to be built, is rolled out at Willow Run, 28 June 1945. (The Henry Ford, THF24027 Ford Motor Co. Willow Run Bomber Plant.)

28 June 1945: The very last of 18,482 B-24 Liberator very long range heavy bombers rolled off the assembly line at Ford’s Willow Run Aircraft Plant, located between Belleville and Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Willow Run
Willow Run Airplane Plant

More B-24s were built than any other American aircraft type. They were produced by the designer, Consolidated Aircraft, at its San Diego, California and Fort Worth, Texas plants; by Douglas Aircraft at Tulsa, Oklahoma; North American Aviation at Dallas, Texas; and by Ford Willow Run.

Ford built 6,972 B-24s in 776 days and produced kits for 1,893 more to be assembled by the other manufacturers. The Willow Run plant completed a B-24 every 63 minutes.

The last B-24 built was this B-24M, 44-51928, at the Ford Willow Run plant. (The Henry Ford)
The last B-24 built was this B-24M-30-FO Liberator, 44-51928, at the Willow Run bomber plant. (The Henry Ford THF10153 Ford Motor Co. Willow Run Bomber Plant)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

23 June 1944

Second Lieutenant David R. Kinsley, United States Army Air Forces
Second Lieutenant David Richard Kingsley, United States Army Air Corps, photographed as an aviation cadet.

MEDAL OF HONOR

KINGSLEY, DAVID R. (Air Mission)

Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Corps, 97th Bombardment Group, 15th Air Force.

Place and date: Ploesti Raid, Rumania, 23 June 1944.

Entered service at: Portland, Oregon. Birth: Oregon.

G.O. No.: 26, 9 April 1945.

Citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty, 23 June 1944 near Ploesti, Rumania, while flying as bombardier of a B17 type aircraft.

On the bomb run 2d Lt. Kingsley’s aircraft was severely damaged by intense flak and forced to drop out of formation but the pilot proceeded over the target and 2d Lt. Kingsley successfully dropped his bombs, causing severe damage to vital installations. The damaged aircraft, forced to lose altitude and to lag behind the formation, was aggressively attacked by 3 ME-109 aircraft, causing more damage to the aircraft and severely wounding the tail gunner in the upper arm. The radio operator and engineer notified 2d Lt. Kingsley that the tail gunner had been wounded and that assistance was needed to check the bleeding. 2d Lt. Kingsley made his way back to the radio room, skillfully applied first aid to the wound, and succeeded in checking the bleeding. The tail gunner’s parachute harness and heavy clothes were removed and he was covered with blankets, making him as comfortable as possible. Eight ME-109 aircraft again aggressively attacked 2d Lt. Kingsley’s aircraft and the ball turret gunner was wounded by 20mm. shell fragments. He went forward to the radio room to have 2d Lt. Kingsley administer first aid. A few minutes later when the pilot gave the order to prepare to bail out, 2d Lt. Kingsley immediately began to assist the wounded gunners in putting on their parachute harness. In the confusion the tail gunner’s harness, believed to have been damaged, could not be located in the bundle of blankets and flying clothes which had been removed from the wounded men. With utter disregard for his own means of escape, 2d Lt. Kingsley unhesitatingly removed his parachute harness and adjusted it to the wounded tail gunner. Due to the extensive damage caused by the accurate and concentrated 20mm. fire by the enemy aircraft the pilot gave the order to bail out, as it appeared that the aircraft would disintegrate at any moment. 2d Lt. Kingsley aided the wounded men in bailing out and when last seen by the crewmembers he was standing on the bomb bay catwalk. The aircraft continued to fly on automatic pilot for a short distance, then crashed and burned. His body was later found in the wreckage. 2d Lt. Kingsley by his gallant heroic action was directly responsible for saving the life of the wounded gunner.

Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor

David Richard Kingsley was born 27 June 1918 at Portland, Oregon. He was the second of nine children of David Ross Kingsley, a machinist, and Angelina Marie Rutto Kingsley. He attended St. Michael’s School in Portland.

With both of their parents dead and their oldest brother in the Navy, Dave Kingsley cared for his younger siblings. He worked as a firefighter, and was engaged to Miss Harriet Zalabak.

Aviation Cadet David R. Kingsley, U.S. Army Air Corps, circa 1942.

Kingsley enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces at Portland Army Air Base, 14 April 1942. He had brown hair, blue eyes, was 5 feet, 10 inches (1.78 meters) tall and weighed 165 pounds (75 kilograms). Kingsley was trained as a bombardier and commissioned a second lieutenant in July 1943.

The gunner saved by Kingsley later said, “David then took me in his arms and struggled to the bomb bay, where he told me to keep my hand on the rip cord and said to pull it when I was clear of the ship. . . Then he told me to bail out. I watched the ground go by for a few seconds and then I jumped. I looked at Dave the look he had on his face was firm and solemn. He must have known what was coming because there was no fear in his eyes at all. That was the last time I saw. . . Dave standing in the bomb bay.”

Kingsley’s bomber, a Vega-built B-17F-35-VE, 42-5951, crashed near the village of Suhozem, in central Bulgaria. In addition of Kingsley, seven people on the ground were killed.

Major General Ralph P. Cousins presented Lieutenant Kingley’s Medal of Honor to his older brother, Pharmacist’s Mate First Class Thomas Kingsley, U.S. Navy, in a ceremony held at St. Michael the Archangel Church, Portland, Oregon, 4 May 1945.

Following the war, Lieutenant Kingley’s remains were exhumed and returned to the United States. They were then buried at the Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

Kingsley Air National Guard Base, Klamath Falls, Oregon, is named in his honor.

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

13 June 1944

LNER's Grove Road railway bridge after the V-1 attack, 13 June 1944.
LNER’s Grove Road railway bridge after the V-1 attack, 13 June 1944. (The National Archives)
A LNER Class B-12/3 4-6-0 locomotive, 7488, pulls a passenger train across the rebuilt Grove Street bridge, 9:27 p.m., 14 June 1944. (Great Eastern Railway Society)
LNER Class B-12/3 standard gauge 4-6-0 locomotive, 7488, pulls a passenger train across the rebuilt Grove Street railway bridge, 9:27 p.m., 14 June 1944. (Great Eastern Railway Society)

13 June 1944: At approximately 4:30 a.m., the first V-1 flying bomb struck London. The “buzz bomb” detonated on a London and North Eastern Railway bridge crossing over Grove Street, between Devonshire Street and Osborne Road in Bethnal Green. Six persons were killed by the explosion, and twenty-six others were injured.

Twelve homes were demolished and at least fifty others badly damaged.

The bridge was along an important railway route. It was heavily damaged and the LNER decided to replace it rather than undertake any repairs. The new bridge was in service by 7:45 p.m., that evening.

“Detail from a Bomb Census map. The Grove Road V1 bomb is the lower of the two shown here. Catalogue reference: HO 193/50, map sheet 56/20 SE (A).” (The National Archives)

A Mr. Dowe witnessed the attack from the Bethnal Green Town Hall. He said, “When warning went I saw my wife and family into the shelter and then stood at the entrance to watch events. I heard a plane in the distance, then gunfire and then the sound of the plane as if diving. There was an orange flash, followed by a terrific explosion. There were no sounds of bombs falling as in the blitz, only only that of the plane zooming.”

Three other “P.A.C.s” (Pilotless Aircraft) ¹ fell in Kent and Sussex with little effect.

V1 vor dem Start Aus guter Deckung wird "V1" an die Abschußstelle gerollt. Der Start erfolgt durch eine Pressluftanlage. Mit Hilfe eines Fernlenkverfahrens trifft die "V1" das befohlene Ziel. Die gleichbleibend hohe Geschwindigkeit, die von keinem Feindjäger erreicht wird, erhält "V1" von einem Raketenantrieb. Diese erste deutsche Vergeltungswaffe ist eine hervorragende Schöpfung unserer Luftrüstung. Foto: PK-Lysiak/Transocean-Europapress
A V-1 flying bomb is brought out of a protective bunker for launching. Foto: PK-Lysiak/Transocean-Europapress

The Fieseler Fi 103 (better known as the Vergeltungswaffe 1 (“retaliation weapon”), or simply, the V-1, was what would today be considered a cruise missile. It was designed and built by the Gerhard Fieseler Werke GmbH. Construction of the missiles was very simple and it was mass produced at a rate of about 8,000 per month.

The V-1 is an unmanned mid-wing monoplane, constructed of a welded steel fuselage with straight wings which were covered by sheet steel. A pulse jet engine was mounted above the fuselage. The “flying bomb” was 8.325 meters (27 feet, 3¾ inches) long with a wingspan of 5.370 meters (17 feet, 7½ inches). The wing used a symmetrical airfoil with no sweep, dihedral or twist. There are no ailerons. Steel barrage balloon cable cutters were installed in the wings’ leading edges. The aircraft had a total weight of 2,160 kilograms (4,762 pounds).

Powered by an Argus Motoren Werke GmbH As 014 pulse jet engine which produced a maximum thrust of 3,530 newtons (794 pounds of thrust) at 750 kilometers per hour (460 miles per hour) at Sea Level. The pulse jet engine had no moving parts and fired 45–50 times per second. It burned low-octane gasoline with compressed air.

The V-1 was controlled in flight through pneumatic servos connected to a gyroscopic automatic pilot built by Askania Werke AG. A magnetic compass in the nose could be set to direct the V-1 in a particular direction. Air driven vanes at the nose drove an air log, which kept track of the distance flown by means of a turn counter. At a preselected count, the device shut down the pulse jet engine and the flying bomb entered a steep dive and crashed into the ground and the warhead detonated. The V-1 was only accurate enough to land in a general geographic area.

The aircraft had a maximum speed of 600 kilometers per hour (373 miles per hour) at 2,500 meters (8,200 feet). The maximum range was 235 kilometers (146 miles).

The warhead contained 830 kilograms (1,830 pounds) of Amatol 3 gm (a mixture of the high explosive TNT with ammonium nitrate). The warhead could be detonated by any one of three fuses: an electrical impact fuse, a mechanical impact fuse, or a mechanical delayed action fuse.

V1_Flying_Bomb_C4431
This illustration from an official report is dated 16 June 1944, just three days after the first V-1 attack on London. © IWM (C 4431)

The V-1 was usually launched from an inclined ramp by catapult, though it could also be air launched from a carrier airplane.

Between 13 June 1944 and 29 March 1945, approximately 10,500 V-1s were launched against England. In the area around London, 6,184 people were killed and 17,981 others seriously injured. The V-1 was also targeted against cities on the European continent, especially Antwerp. 8,696 V-1s were launched against that city, and 3,141 fired at Liège. These attacks killed 4,683 persons and wounded 10,075.

¹ “Flying bomb” replaced Pilotless Aircraft as the preferred term in a Cabinet meeting, 19 June 1944.

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

13 June 1943

USAAF Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress with left outboard engine on fire and right wing shot off, out of control and going down over Europe, World War II. (U.S. Air Force)

13 June 1943: On Mission Number 63, 76 VIII Bomber Command Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress four-engine heavy bombers of the 4th Bombardment Wing were sent to attack the U-boat pens at Kiel, Germany.

An Allied merchant convoy formed up to cross the Atlantic Ocean, 1942. (Naval Supply Corps Newsletter/Library of Congress)

German submarine attacks on transatlantic convoys were a major threat to the Allies. England was dependent on North America for food, fuel, munitions and weapons. Destruction of the submarine bases and repair facilities was therefore a very high priority for VIII Bomber Command. These were often very heavily reinforced concrete bunkers where submarines could be serviced and repaired, safe from air attack.

The “Kilian” base at Kiel was for the protection of up to 12 newly-built U-boats. Each bay was 138 meters (453 feet) long and could house two submarines, end-to-end. The roof was 4.8 meters (15 feet, 9 inches) of reinforced concrete, and the walls were 3.3 meters (10 feet, 10 inches) thick.

U-Boot Typ VII C im Bunkerdock. (L.-G. Buchheim © Buchheim Stiftung)

60 bombers made it to the target but were met with the heaviest fighter attacks to that point of the war. 22 B-17s were shot down. Of those that returned to England, 24 were damaged, 1 so badly that it was beyond repair.

3 airmen were killed, 20 wounded and 213 were listed as Missing In Action.

Before the war, it was thought that the defensive machine guns of the Flying Fortress would be able to protect it against enemy fighters, but losses like those suffered in this raid proved the necessity for escorting fighters to defend the bomber formations.

NOTE: A very detailed analysis of this mission, “USAAF Mission #63: Bremen and Keil” by Andreas Zapf can be found at

http://www.andreaszapf.de/blog-chronicles-media/USAAF-Mission-63-Bremen-and-Kiel.pdf 

U-boat pen
U-boat pen

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather