The air service in particular is one of such peril that membership in it is of itself a high distinction. Physical address, high training, entire fearlessness, iron nerve, and fertile resourcefulness are needed in a combination and to a degree hitherto unparalleled in war. The ordinary air fighter is an extraordinary man; and the extraordinary air fighter stands as one in a million among his fellows. Guynemer was one of these. More than this. He was the foremost among all the extraordinary fighters of all the nations who in this war have made the skies their battle field. We are fortunate indeed in having you write his biography.
Very faithfully yours,
(Signed) Theodore Roosevelt.
M. Henry Bordeaux,
44 Rue du Ranelagh,
" ... Guynemer has not come back.”
The news flew from one air escadrille to another, from the aviation camps to the troops, from the advance to the rear zones of the army; and a shock of pain passed from soul to soul in that vast army, and throughout all France, as if, among so many soldiers menaced with death, this one alone should have been immortal.
History gives us examples of such universal grief, but only at the death of great leaders whose authority and importance intensified the general mourning for their loss. Thus, Troy without Hector was defenseless. When Gaston de Foix, Duke de Nemours, surnamed the Thunderbolt of Italy, died at the age of twenty-three after the victory of Ravenna, the French transalpine conquests were endangered. The bullet which struck Turenne at Saltzbach also menaced the work of Louis XIV. But Guynemer had nothing but his airplane, a speck in the immense spaces filled by the war. This young captain, though without an equal in the sky, conducted no battle on land. Why, then, did he alone have the power, like a great military chief, of leaving universal sadness behind him? A little child of France has given us the reason.
Among the endless expressions of the nation’s mourning, this letter was written by the school-mistress of a village in Franche-Comte, Mademoiselle S——, of Bouclans, to the mother of the aviator:
Madame, you have already received the sorrowful and grateful sympathy of official France and of France as a nation; I am venturing to send you the naive and sincere homage of young France as represented by our school children at Bouclans. Before receiving from our chiefs the suggestion, of which we learn to-day, we had already, on the 22nd of October, consecrated a day to the memory of our hero Guynemer, your glorious son.
I send you enclosed an exercise by one of my pupils chosen at random, for all of them are animated by the same sentiments. You will see how the immortal glory of your son shines even in humble villages, and that the admiration