At Verdun our aerial as well as our land forces underwent sudden and almost prodigious reverses. Within a few days the Storks Escadrille had been decimated: its chief, Captain Brocard, had been wounded in the face by a bullet and compelled to land; Lieutenant Perretti had been killed, Lieutenant Deullin wounded, Guynemer wounded and nearly all its best pilots put hors de combat. The lost air-mastery was only regained by the tenacity of Major de Rose, Chief of Aviation of the Second Army, and by a rapid reconcentration of forces.
[Footnote 19: “Once knightly heroes wandered over earth....”]
Major de Rose ordered enemy-chasing, and electrified and inspired his escadrilles. The part he played during those terrible Verdun months can never be sufficiently praised. Guynemer’s comrades held the sky under fire, as their brothers, the infantrymen, held the shifting ground which protected the ancient citadel. Chaput brought down seven airplanes, Nungesser six, and a drachen, Navarre four, Lenoir four, Auger and Pelletier d’Oisy three, Puple, Chainat, and Lesort two. The observation airplanes rivaled the fighting machines, often defending themselves, and not infrequently forcing down their assailants in flames. Twice Sergeant Fedoroff rid himself in this manner of troublesome adversaries. But other pilots deserve to be mentioned, pilots such as Stribick and Houtt, Captain Vuillemin, Lieutenant de Laage, Sergeants de Ridder, Viallet and Buisse, and such observers as Lieutenant Liebmann, who was killed, and Mutel, Naudeau, Campion, Moulines, Dumas, Robbe, Travers, sous-lieutenant Boillot, Captain Verdurand—admirable squadron chief—and Major Roisin, expert in bombardments. The lists of names are always too short, but these, at least, should be loudly acclaimed.