WAR ACES MEET IN BERLIN; BOTH PLEAD FOR PEACE
Captain Rene Fonck And Captain Ernst Udet Become Friends
By MINOT SAUNDERS
BERLIN, Nov. 17.—"I'm very happy to meet you," said the German to the Frenchman. "But haven't we met before?"
They had—these two well-groomed men, vigorous in their thirties, who smiled at each other and cordially shook hands when formally presented in the lobby of a Berlin hotel.
One was Captain Rene Fonck
, the greatest of French aces, who shot down seventy-three German planes during the war. The other was Captain Ernst Udet
, the greatest of surviving German aces, who shot down sixty-two allied machines.
Last Met In The Air
Their last previous meeting had been shortly before the Armistice, ten years ago. Instead of smiles and pleasant words they were matching flying skill and marksmanship as they rode through the shell-infested skies over the battlefront.
Both were great craftsmen, and they came through alive. Now they are friends.
"Yes, I have found a new friend in the person of an old enemy," said Captain Fonck. "We were gunning for each other in the old days, but we can meet pleasantly together now. We talk the same language—the language of the flying man."
Fonck's Gun Jammed
"I had great luck one day," said Captain Udet as they talked together of war days. "You shot down three of my comrades, and probably the only reason I am able to shake your hand to-day is that your machine gun jammed just in time—for me."
Fonck was here to visit the German aviation show. Jean Marbeuf, Berlin correspondent for a Paris newspaper, a good Frenchman and an admirer of Udet, brought the two famous aviators together.
"If these two men had been left alone together ten years ago one of them would not have lived," said Marbeuf. "Now they are able to meet in a friendly and fraternal spirit like two athletes after a sporting match. The interview between the two should be a red-letter day in the history of Franco-German peace. They have set an example for old adversaries which will do more to seal friendships than political maneuvers.''
How Udet Fought
Fonck and Udet exchanged many reminiscences. Fonck was particularly interested when the German ace explained: "I used to wait until night was about to fall and then, flying at a height of 15,000 to 18,000 feet, I would get behind your lines, turn my tail toward the setting sun, and wait for your machines to return home. With the sun in their eyes they were easy to pick off."
Udet spoke admiringly of the French commandant, Happe, saying: "I remember on the 12th of October, 1916, a fight in which I had shot down two planes over Oberndorf when I recognized Happe. We knew him by his beard, which we could see flying in the wind. What audacity! We regarded him as an heroic madman."
Both Plead For Peace
Their talk of war ended with words of peace.
"When you look back upon all these things, how can one help being for peace?" remarked Udet.
''Yes," replied Fonck, "if you asked the views of the ex-service men I am sure there would be a crushing majority in favor of peace."
The Fresno Bee - Sunday, November 18, 1928