Photograph album of Observer George De Ram and Pilot Jean Baumont, Escadrille N. 23, French Air Service

An 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 Strutter 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 bomber. 

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 Ram

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

Noted 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."

In N. 23, De Ram's reconnaissance plane often was escorted by Baumont, but also such aces as Casale.  On April 23 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 fire.  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 clicking here

Marie Jules Jean Baumont

Jean 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 clicking here. 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.