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2000 Closed threads from 2000 (read only)

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Old 15 September 2000, 04:45 AM   #1
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So even after 'victory normalization' René Fonck gets a score from 73 and a half? I wonder how many of these are really confirmed (German records or otherwise), considering he stole kills from a presumed dead man (a la Stachel), lied about Wisseman's death, etcetera.
How come almost nobody treat this controversy as extensively as say Bishop's?
Old 15 September 2000, 05:11 AM   #2
John L
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First, he was not charged officially with the misdemeanors you claim, and convicted. Therefore, he must be presumed to be innocent.
As I said before, I had planned to visit him in '54 with a French exchange lady student I was once fond of who lived in Paris to try to charm him into a rational explanation. Unfortunately, he died in '53.
He has only been tried by the Forum's kangaroo court and found guilty of everything back to the crusifixion of Christ. Again, history revisionism raises its ugly head.
So, stop trying to incite a riot. Rene had so many contemporary enemies because of his loud, boistrous braggadoccio that only a simple mind would accept what some of them said about him without investigating the character of the accuser. You follow me? What axes were those "wannabe" aces trying to grind? If you can establish that kind of thing, you are enhancing truth and history. Choosing up sides and attacking the character of a long dead ace is called "flaming".
Old 15 September 2000, 07:44 AM   #3
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It's never been a big item with me, but I do wonder what is actually KNOWN about Fonck and his personality. Everybody interested in Great War aviation "knows" that he was an obnoxious braggart who had the maddening habit of living up to his own boasts. But stop and think a moment: how do we REALLY know that?
AFAIK, every such item is from 1930s-50s authors writing well after the fact, without any specific references. These same assertions often come from "historians" who put canvas on WW I aeroplanes.
Therefore: among his contemporaries, who observed Fonck's arrogance? Who considered him a braggart? It'd be interesting to trace the historiography, if it were possible. Meanwhile, the only first-person account I know of on the subject was from Ed Parsons who, IIRC, said RF was intensely competitive--not the same as being an obnoxious, arrogant boor.
I think that a similar example is W Voss' "famous" last night bash in Berlin, attending Lorzer's PlM party in Berlin. We do know where that originated--with Quentin Reynolds, though his source is obscure. But we know that Lorzer didn't receive TBM until about 5-6 months later, and Voss evidently spent his last night with his brothers at the front. (Besides which, it is far from certain he could have closed up the Bristol Hotel bar and made it back to J.10 in time to bag No. 48 the next morning.)
So: I'm not saying that the conventional wisdom about Fonck is wrong. I just can't help asking--where's the proof?
You will not rise to the occasion: You will default to your level of training.
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Old 15 September 2000, 07:50 AM   #4
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Oh, but what would we ever have to discuss if we all stopped 'flaming'?
On a more serious note, I don't think that revising history is necessarily bad. If you find a receipt in your files that you didn't account for, you 'revise' your balance. And science does it all the time. If we didn't revise "accepted fact" when more is known about the subject, we'd still be thinking that the sun was dragged across the sky by a guy in a chariot. It's when history is revised to make a certain group feel better about itself that I think it's a bad idea. And by 'certain group', I don't necessarily mean a small group within a society. Societies lie to themselves about themselves all the time.


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Old 15 September 2000, 08:05 AM   #5
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Well said Craig!
Old 15 September 2000, 10:04 AM   #6
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True, if I find a receipt in my records that hadn't been previously accounted for, I do make the necessary change. But, suppose for a moment that I claimed to have made a deposit of 72 dollars some time ago, and the bank accepted it then.

Now, I come back and someone else says that I didn't make the deposit. The only proof they have is the lack of paperwork from years ago. Is my bank going to penalize me for something that MIGHT have happened 20-30 years ago? They already said I did put the 72 dollars in the bank. Although, some of those dollars might have been Canadian dollars, not worth as much now as they were then, but that was a long time ago.

Nope, they won't change it. Note this long after the fact.

Old 15 September 2000, 10:41 AM   #7
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That all is Barretts fault - I mean William E. Barrett. He wrote "Was Fonck a Faker?" Everybody can order the article from the Ferko Collcetion - and make his own conclusions. I did the same. I am convinced Fonck got more "kills" (but never 75) than Bishop but I would never wish to have such a guy in my squadron.

Barretts subtitle was: "How could he be when he had 75 kills to his credit? But you´ll wonder after you read about this ace whose mouth was his worst enemy"

BTW: Also Barrett made mistakes in his article but despite that I would always prefer Guynemer against Fonck.

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Old 15 September 2000, 11:44 AM   #8
Joe Doyle
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Has everyone read "Ace of Aces" by Rene'Fonck? This was published by Doubleday & Company 1967 as part of their Air Combat Classics series. In it I found the Capt. Fonck paid particular tribute to Capt. Guynemer as the finest Stork. Also it seems that Capt. Brocard, Chef de Bataillon for Groupe de Combat 12 was very strict about confirming victories, requiring three independent witnesses for each claim and was not pleased with shared victories. (Franks/Bailey The Storks page 20). With single flights and fights over the enemy line it is possible that many pilots never received due credit for their actions.
Old 15 September 2000, 11:47 AM   #9
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>>How come almost nobody treat this controversy as extensively as say Bishop's?<<

Simply because the Anglo-Americans and also Germans don´t know about the French records in Air War. And there is still this language problem: How many French articles about Air War did YOU (everybody incl. me) read? The other way around many French refuse to publish in English language (or are ignored?). Additional a lot of the "Empire"-literature is completely ignoring that there was anything like a French air power.
Finally: How many people on this Forum are US-Americans, Brits, Canadians, Australians, Kiwis .................................................F rench?
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Old 15 September 2000, 07:40 PM   #10
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Joe Doyle: You are right! I read that book, and it gave me the impression that Fonck was meticulous in his approach to air combat. He would examine each cartridge that he loaded into his guns, and reject those that were defective or likely to cause a jam and he lubricated them. I do not think tha Fonck was ever shotdown, or injured, and he was a superb marksman.
In war, to be effective as opposed to just fighting for life, a person has to have what the French call sang froid or 'cold blood' a quality much admired by the French militaire. Sang froid is the antidote to fear, but it is a rare quality. Fonck had, and it was this clinical approach to combat and nonchalance that made lesser men hate Fonck for qualities we all wish we had.
My father spent some time in France. He told me that certain Frenchmen-not all-have a sarcastic sense of humor: they make jokes by insulting people. He said if you ever get to France and meet someone like that, you must answer sarcasm with sarcasm. I got to France and met monsieur sarcasm in the form of a border guard who did not want to stamp my kids passports. I was driving a VW camper with a German export plate, and probably thinking I was German asked me why I was in France. I answered: "Pour voire votre belle fornicating pays." This started him laughing and he then stamped all our passports. That's the French for you. But that's the only time I had a hard time in that country.
VBRs Billy H 09/16/00.



rene, fonck

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