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Name: René Paul Fonck
Légion d'Honneur
Médaille Militaire
Croix de Guerre with 28 palms
Military Cross (MC)
Military Medal (MM)
René Fonck Croix de Guerre [Belgium]
Country: France
Rank: Capitaine
Service: French Air Service
Units: C47; Spa103
Victories: 75
Born: 27 March 1894
Place of Birth: Saulcy-sur-Meurthe
Died: 18 June 1953
Place of Death: Paris, France
Cemetery: Saulcy-sur-Meurthe Cemetery, Lorraine, France Image
 
 
Fonck was the highest scoring ace for France and the Allies. As a boy growing up in the foothills of the Vosges, he was fascinated by stories of men and their flying machines. Yet when he was conscripted in August 1914, he refused to serve in the French Air Service, choosing instead to go to the trenches. By early 1915, he had changed his mind and began his flight training in a Penguin at Saint-Cyr. Displaying an inherent talent for flying, he was soon serving with Escadrille C47, flying an unarmed Caudron on reconnaissance missions over the lines. In April 1917, after more than 500 hours of flight time, Fonck was assigned to Spa103. Flying the SPAD VII, he developed a reputation for studying the tactics of his opponents and conserving ammunition during a dogfight. On two separate occasions, he shot down six enemy aircraft in one day. As his fame grew, so did his ego and Fonck never achieved the admiration and popularity of Georges Guynemer. Even French ace Claude Haegelen, one of Fonck's few friends, felt he boasted too much and too often; but no one could deny that Fonck was an excellent pilot and superb marksman. In 1944 he was arrested and charged with being a collaborator. Fonck died at home from a stroke. He was 59.
"I put my bullets into the target as if I placed them there by hand." René Fonck

"I prefer to fly alone . . . when alone, I perform those little coups of audacity which amuse me . . ." René Fonck

"He is not a truthful man. He is a tiresome braggart." Claude Haegelen

"René Fonck was in my judgment easily the finest fighter pilot produced by the aviation service of any nation in World War I." Charles Biddle
 
Médaille Militaire
"A pilot of remarkable bravery, skill and spirit, having already engaged in a great number of aerial combats. On 6 August 1916, he resolutely attacked two strongly armed enemy planes, took on one in pursuit, and by a series of bold and skilful maneuvers, forced it to land uninjured within our lines. He has been cited in orders twice." Médaille Militaire citation, 1916
 
Légion d'Honneur
"A fighting pilot of great value, combining outstanding bravery and exceptional qualities of skill and sang-froid. He came to pursuit aviation after 500 hours of flight on army corps aircraft and became, in a short time, one of the best French combat pilots. On 19, 20 and 21 August 1917, he shot down his 8th, 9th and 10th enemy aircraft. He has already been cited seven times in orders, and has received the Médaille Militaire for feats of war." Legion d'Honneur citation, 1917
 
Officier de la Légion d'Honneur
"Remarkable officer from every point of view; of admirable fighting ardor. Pilot of the highest order, for reconnaissance missions and artillery range intelligence, as well as for surveillance service that he completed many times despite very unfavorable atmospheric conditions. He demonstrated, during the course of an uninterrupted series of aerial combats, an exceptional strength and will to win, which sets an example for the French chasse pilots of today. Has downed thirty six enemy planes. Seventeen citations, Médaille Militaire and Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur for feats of war." Officier de la Legion d'Honneur citation, 12 May 1918
 
Victories
Date Time Unit Aircraft Opponent Location
1 06 Aug 1916 C47  1 Rumpler Estrées-Saint Denis
2 17 Mar 1917 C47   Albatros 2 N of Cernay-en-Lannais
3 05 May 1917 0730 Spa103   Rumpler Berry-au-Bac
4 11 May 1917 1850 Spa103   Albatros Aguilcourt
5 13 May 1917 1830 Spa103   EA Nogent l'Abbesse
6 12 Jun 1917 0900 Spa103   Albatros Cauroy-Cormicy
7 09 Aug 1917 Spa103   Fokker Dunkerque
8 19 Aug 1917 Spa103   Albatros C Enemy lines
9 20 Aug 1917 Spa103   EA  
10 21 Aug 1917 Spa103   Two-seater Dixmuide
11 22 Aug 1917 Spa103   EA NE of Ypres
12 14 Sep 1917 Spa103   EA E of Langemarck
13 15 Sep 1917 Spa103   EA Zonnebeke
14 23 Sep 1917 Spa103   Two-seater S of Houthulst
15 30 Sep 1917 Spa103   Two-seater 3 Poperinghe
16 17 Oct 1917 Spa103   EA  
17 17 Oct 1917 Spa103   EA  
18 21 Oct 1917 Spa103   EA Paschendaele
19 27 Oct 1917 Spa103   EA Westroosebeke
20 19 Jan 1918 Spa103   Fokker Beaumont
21 19 Jan 1918 Spa103   EA Samogneux
22 05 Feb 1918 1205 Spa103   Two-seater Sarrebruck
23 18 Feb 1918 1300 Spa103   Albatros Caurieres-Bezonvaux
24 19 Feb 1918 1205 Spa103   Albatros C Montfaucon
25 26 Feb 1918 1025 Spa103   Two-seater Dieppe
26 26 Feb 1918 1010 Spa103   Two-seater Montfaucon
27 15 Mar 1918 1015 Spa103   Two-seater Bermercourt-Oratuville
28 15 Mar 1918 1725 Spa103   Albatros N of Courtecon
29 16 Mar 1918 1150 Spa103   Two-seater Nogent l'Abbesse
30 17 Mar 1918 1750 Spa103   Pfalz D.III N of Meneville
31 28 Mar 1918 1030 Spa103   EA E of Montdidier
32 29 Mar 1918 1830 Spa103   Scout Montdidier
33 29 Mar 1918 1835 Spa103   Scout Montdidier
34 12 Apr 1918 1825 Spa103   Scout Piennes-Montdidier
35 12 Apr 1918 1840 Spa103   Two-seater Moreuil
36 22 Apr 1918 1805 Spa103   EA Assainvillers-le-Monchel
37 09 May 1918 1600 Spa103   Two-seater S of Moreuil
38 09 May 1918 1602 Spa103   Two-seater S of Moreuil
39 09 May 1918 1605 Spa103   Two-seater S of Moreuil
40 09 May 1918 1820 Spa103   Two-seater Montdidier
41 09 May 1918 1855 Spa103   Two-seater Harlecourt-Braches
42 09 May 1918 1856 Spa103   Two-seater Harlecourt-Braches
43 19 May 1918 0940 Spa103   EA Montdidier
44 19 May 1918 1000 Spa103   EA Montdidier
45 25 Jun 1918 1815 Spa103   Fokker Villers-aux-Erables
46 25 Jun 1918 Spa103   Fokker Montdidier
47 25 Jun 1918 1800 Spa103   Halberstadt C Coutoire
48 27 Jun 1918 0810 Spa103   Halberstadt C Morisel
49 27 Jun 1918 0815 Spa103   Pfalz D.III Moreuil
50 16 Jul 1918 Spa103   EA Dormans
51 16 Jul 1918 Spa103   EA S of Dormans
52 18 Jul 1918 Spa103   EA Cachery
53 18 Jul 1918 Spa103   EA Cachery
54 19 Jul 1918 Spa103   EA Chatillon
55 19 Jul 1918 Spa103   EA Chatillon
56 19 Jul 1918 Spa103   EA Dormans
57 01 Aug 1918 1100 Spa103   Two-seater E of Bois de Hangard
58 14 Aug 1918 Spa103   EA Roye
59 14 Aug 1918 Spa103   EA Gruny-Cremery
60 14 Aug 1918 Spa103   EA Roye-Chaulnes
61 26 Sep 1918 1145 Spa103   Fokker D.VII St. Marie-a-Py
62 26 Sep 1918 Spa103   Fokker D.VII St. Souplet
63 26 Sep 1918 1210 Spa103   Halberstadt C Perthes-les-Hurles
64 26 Sep 1918 1810 Spa103   Fokker D.VII St. Souplet
65 26 Sep 1918 1820 Spa103   Halberstadt C E of Souain
66 26 Sep 1918 Spa103   DFW C E of Souain
67 28 Sep 1918 1030 Spa103   Two-seater NE of Somme-Py
68 05 Oct 1918 1730 Spa103   Two-seater Liry-Mirvaux
69 05 Oct 1918 1740 Spa103   Scout Mauvine-St. Clements
70 30 Oct 1918 1525 Spa103   Two-seater Falise-Vouzieres
71 30 Oct 1918 1540 Spa103   Scout Semay-Terron
72 30 Oct 1918 Spa103   Scout Semay-Terron
73 31 Oct 1918 1120 Spa103   Two-seater N of Vouzieres
74 31 Oct 1918 1135 Spa103   Scout E of Vouzieres
75 01 Nov 1918 1420 Spa103   Halberstadt C E of Vouzieres

1 Observer Lt Thiberge
2 Shared with Sgt Huffer
3 Shared with Adj Dupre
 
Books
Over the Front
by Norman L. R. Franks, Frank W. Bailey / Hardcover / Grub Street the Basement (May 1992)
Ace of Aces
by Captain René Fonck and edited by Stanley M. Ulanoff / Hardcover / Doubleday & Co, Inc 1967
 
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