Guynemer was France's most beloved ace. He entered the French Air Service in November 1914 and served as a mechanic before receiving a Pilot's Brevet in April 1915. Despite his frail physical appearance, he took part in more than 600 aerial combats and was shot down seven times and survived. An excellent marksman and highly skilled pilot, he was hailed as the French Ace of Aces. Guynemer received letters from women proposing marriage, requests from school children for his autograph and was often followed through the streets. One of the first pilots to receive a SPAD VII, he called his plane Vieux Charles (Old Charles). On 25 May 1917, he engaged and shot down four enemy aircraft with Old Charles in one day. Looking for ways to improve the performance of his aircraft, Guynemer armed a SPAD VII with a single-shot 37 mm canon that fired through a hollowed out propeller shaft. He called this impractical aircraft his Magic Machine. Despite the fumes that filled the cockpit and the recoil of the canon, during the summer of 1917 he shot down at least two enemy aircraft with his Magic Machine. On 11 September 1917, Guynemer was last seen attacking a two-seater Aviatik near Poelcapelle, northwest of Ypres. Almost a week later, it was publicly announced in a London paper that he was missing in action. Shortly thereafter, a German newspaper reported Guynemer had been shot down by Kurt Wissemann of Jasta 3. For many months, the French population refused to believe he was dead. Guynemer's body was never found.
The correspondent of the Kölnische Zeitung on the western front says that according to the Gazelle 'des Ardennes (which is under German control) the French airman Captain Guynemer was killed on September 11 about 800 yards east of the cemetery of Poelcapelle. A German sergeant found there a one-seater with a wing broken and the pilot dead from a bullet wound in the head, and on him an identity disc with the name "Georges Guynemer." — Reuter.
The Weekly Dispatch - Sunday, September 30, 1917
"I shall not survive." Georges Guynemer, 28 August 1917
". . . Indomitable tenacity, ferocious energy, sublime courage: animated by the most resolute faith in victory, he bequeaths to the French soldier an imperishable memory which will exalt the spirit of sacrifice." Memorial to Guynemer
"Not only the machine above me is better, but the man sitting in it can do more than I." Ernst Udet, describing an encounter with Guynemer in May 1917
"He was neither seen nor heard as he fell, his body and his machine were never found. Where has he gone? By what wings did he manage to glide into immortality? Nobody knows: nothing is known. He ascended and never came back, that is all. Perhaps our descendents will say: He flew so high that he could not come down again." L'Illustration, 6 October 1917
"A pilot of great spirit and daring, willing to carry out the most perilous assignments. After a relentless chase he engaged a German aircraft in combat which ended with its bursting into flames and crashing." Médaille Militaire, 21 July 1915
Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur
"Pilot of great gallantry, a model of devotion to duty and courage. During the course of the past six months he has fulfilled two missions of a special nature requiring the highest spirit of self-sacrifice, and has engaged in thirteen aerial combats, of which two ended in the destruction in flames of the enemy aircraft." Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur citation, 24 December 1915
Officier de la Légion d'Honneur
"Officer of the elite, a fighting pilot as skilful as he is audacious, he has rendered brilliant service to his country, as much by the number of his victories, as by his daily keenness and ever-growing mastery. Heedless of danger he has become for the enemy, by the sureness of his methods and by the precision of his maneuvers, the most redoubtable adversary of all. On 25 May 1917, he accomplished one of his most brilliant exploits in downing, in one minute, two enemy planes and reporting in the same day two other victories. By all his exploits he contributes to the excitement, courage and enthusiasm of those who, in the trenches, are witnesses to his triumphs. Forty five planes downed, twenty citations, two wounds." Officier de la Légion d'Honneur citation, 11 June 1917