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FRONTLINE LIVES OF AVIATORS ON CANVAS, 1914-1918

Sky Fighters of France: Aerial Warfare, 1914-1918 - Henry Farré
  The greatest value that comes from "SKY FIGHTERS OF FRANCE" is that it is Henry Farré's account of the 4 years he spent (on attachment with the French Aviation Militaire) with a variety of aviation units (bombardment, reconnaissance/artillery spotting, and 'chasse' or fighter squadrons) on the Western Front --- and with a seaplane unit in the coastal city of Dunkerque.

Farré's remit, as an accomplished artist, was to capture on canvas various aspects of the lives of pilots in frontline settings. And judging from the reproductions of his paintings scattered throughout the book, the reader gets a palpable feel of what the thrills and perils of combat flying were like 100 years ago. For instance, there are paintings of nighttime bombing raids far behind enemy lines (Farré flew several missions as an observer with a night bomber squadron), a couple of crews from damaged seaplanes (referred to in the book as 'hydroplanes') barely above the waves being rescued by a French destroyer, and individual fighter planes engaged in 'mano-a-mano' aerial combat. There are also individual portraits that Farré drew of some of the aviators he met and with whom he established friendships. For example, one of the war's most famous and skilled aviators, Georges Guynemer, who, before his death on September 11, 1917, was credited with shooting down 53 German planes.

For me, as a First World War aviation enthusiast, "SKY FIGHTERS OF FRANCE" is a prized book that was easy to read. It enriched my understanding of what life at the Front was like for those aviators who took part in history's first air war. Merci, Monsieur Henry Farré.