3803 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY- THE GREAT WAR.
Of aviators in this period, the most celebrated were Baron von Richthofen, who has
already been mentioned; Captain Ball of the
British service; Captain Bishop, a Canadian;
Captain Lufberry, an American; and Captain
Georges Guynemer of the French service.
Captain Guynemer was officially credited
with destroying 53 German aeroplanes. He
was known as the "King of the Aces." He
was only 23 years old and was a son of a
manufacturer who was also a captain in the
French army. On account of his frail
health he was five times rejected when he
attempted to volunteer but was finally
permitted to enlist as a student aviator.
Within three weeks after he received his
pilot's license, in January, 1916, he became
an ace by bringing down his fifth enemy
aeroplane. Thereafter every few days saw
some new feat placed to his credit. One of
his finest exploits took place in September,
1916, when he rose in the air to aid a comrade
who had been attacked by five German
Fokkers. Having attained a height of more
than 10,000 feet, Captain Guynemer shot
down two of his antagonists within thirty
seconds. He pursued the other three and,
in two minutes, had shot down a third
machine. While following the other two,
an enemy shell burst under his aeroplane and
tore away one of the wings. "I felt myself
dropping," he said later. "It was 10,000
feet to the earth, and, like a flash, I saw my
funeral with my saddened comrades marching behind the gun carriage to the cemetery.
I pulled and pushed every lever I had, but
nothing would check my terrific descent.
Five thousand feet from the earth the
wrecked machine began to turn somersaults,
but I was strapped into the seat. I do not
know what it was, but something happened
and I felt the speed of the descent lessen.
Suddenly there was a tremendous crash, and,
when I recovered my senses, I had been
taken from the wreckage and was all right."
Guynemer was three times wounded, but
each time only slightly. On one day, he was
credited with shooting down four enemy