album of sixteen photographs illustrating the presentation of the
Legion d'Honneur to two flying officers in
Escadrille N. 23 of the French Air Service. The cover is an
original painting of a French Sopwith 1-1/2
and in the cover's lower right hand corner is the Legion D'Honneur
and the date "8 Mai 1917."
One can presume that
that was the day of the presentation. Alan Toelle
kindly noted that although the aircraft on the cover has a French
cocarde on the side, it does not represent one of the
Sopwith-built machines obtained in 1916.
These had khaki on the tops of the wings and fuselage and
no Vickers gun. It is
likely a Hanriot-built Sopwith 1B.2s that were aluminum in color
with a (probably) natural wood deck around the cockpits.
Some had Vickers guns. The 1.B.2 was a two-seat
This album was purchased
from the Butterfields sale of the Flayderman collection.
Flayderman or a prior owner had marked the opening page with the
names of two French pilots, presumably identifying the pilots in
this and subsequent album photos. Further research cast
doubt on this identification, however. At first, the only other thread
by which to identify these flying officers was the badge '23'
found at high resolution on the right shoulder of the pilot in the
darker tunic. It turns out that the man on the left is Marie Jules Jean Baumont of Escadrille N. 23 and
on the right is Georges Henri Ernest De Ram of M.F.8 and N.23.
Georges Henri Ernest De
De Ram was born December 26, 1882 in Berg-Op-Zoom, Hollande.
A volunteer in the French Air Service, De Ram became a legend as
an observer when, flying an Maurice Farman M.F.11 in Escadrille M.F. 8, on March 31, 1915,
with Captain Morris at the controls, a shell shredded their plane,
cutting a critical wing strut. De Ram popped out of the cockpit,
walked out on the wing and held the strut so the plane could land.
This story was published during the war in the weekly illustrated
magazine, La Guerre Aerienne Illustree.
for his sang-froid, Observer De Ram would
coolly almost whimsically take his photos while firing his machine gun, gaining
4 confirmed victories and many more 'probable's.'
The observer in the painting on the album cover is clearly De
Ram and the artist seems to have captured not only his moustache but his
sang-froid, as well.
De Ram was mentioned often in
La Guerre Aerienne
Illustree, such as in this article to the left. By the
time the United States had joined the fight, De Ram was no
longer flying but, instead, responsible for the production of
cameras used in aircraft. Below are two photographs copied
from the volumous Gorrell history in the US National Archives -
specifically, from Volume M/27, Photographic History of the
Air Service, Photographs of De ram Factory. In the
first photo De Ram is seen in uniform sitting on the left in the
group of three people sitting. The Man to the right of De
Ram in US uniform is a Captain Christine. The second photo
is labeled "Timing Device for exposure and propellers."
N. 23, De Ram's reconnaissance plane often was escorted by Baumont, but also such aces as Casale.
or possibly 28, 1916, De Ram was flying with Ingold with
Baumont flying behind and above them as escort. In the
middle of a dense fog bank they were attacked by three enemy
aircraft. Baumont fended them off but ran out of
ammunition. Apparently the enemy did not realize this.
While the French aircraft were separated by only 200 meters, the
enemy machines on De Ram's tail were only 20 meters away, Baumont just
above them, who dived and climbed to disrupt their
This account is part of more lengthy notes and articles
provided by Agnes Beylot of the Service Historique de l'armée de
l'Air. The sketch above is copied from daily combat activity
logs of N.23. The full page is accessible by
Marie Jules Jean Baumont
Baumont was known for having bombed the German city of Frankfort not only once, but
twice. Reprisal against German cities for their bombing
of French cities was very important and Baumont took on
heroic status for having exacted such retribution. The
article about his first raid is available both in French and in
very poor translation by
The English translation was accomplished electronically and The
Aero Conservancy is looking for someone to volunteer their time
and expertise to translate it properly.
Following his death on 13 July 1918 in an aerial collision, Baumont's
photograph graced the cover of the 15 August 1918 edition of La Guerre Aérienne illustrée
which contained a lengthy, five page article in memory of
Baumont. Click on the thumbnails below to read further.