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Camille Jousse, French Aviation Hero and Resistant
26/02 - 2016

Camille Jousse, French Aviation Hero and Resistant

I recommend you read the extraordinary story of Camille Georges Jousse, a hero of aviation history who was murdered by the Nazis in 1945.

 

He was born in Bonvilliers, a small village south of Paris, in 1887. At the age of 18, he joins the French navy as a mechanic, and remains there until 1910. Thanks to this experience, he is then offered a job as an aircraft mechanic at the Henri and Maurice Farman company. He will not stay there long: in 1914, war is declared and Camille once again finds himself wearing the military uniform. He becomes an army pilot and during those terrible years, takes part in 106 bombardments and successfully completes 60 reconnaissance operations. His plane is also involved in five air combats, including one at night, and he will be wounded twice, in 1916 and 1917. This impressive record, at a time where aviation is still in its early stages, earns him many honorific awards including Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, the Military Medal, and the 1914-1918 War Cross. He is without a doubt one of the heroes of the first World War.

 

 

Once the war is over, he goes back to being a civilian and works as a mechanic on the the first airlines in the world between Paris-London-Brussels-Amsterdam. In 1919, as he is flying from Paris to Dakar, a leak in one of the engines forces him to get out of the cockpit and walk on the wing twice to fix it, which he will end up doing using only a piece of tape! He will work with some of the biggest names in aviation, win awards, and take part in the great airmail adventure which will provide him with many stories to tell. Like the time he crashed in the gulf of Martaban, was severely wounded, but still managed to save all the mail that was on board. Or his being part of the team which broke, in 1933 on board the “Arc-en-Ciel” (The Rainbow), the time record for the crossing of the Atlantic. 3200 km in 14:30 hours at an average speed of 227 km/h.

 

 

Camille Jousse and the crew of the “Arc-en-Ciel”

 

After this exploit, Camille Jousse takes a break, but it doesn’t last long as a new war breaks out in 1939. He starts working at the Atelier Industriel de l’Air, which is quickly seized by the Germans after the invasion. This bitter defeat leads Camille to join the resistance group led by commander Grandier-Vazeille, which organises the passing of aeronautic specialists and pilots to England and Spain. In 1943, the commander is arrested, and at the end of the year, it’s Camille’s turn to be captured by the Nazis. He is deported to Buchenwald in Germany in 1944, along with one of his comrades. Neither of them will survive the war. At the beginning of April 1945, only a few days before the liberation, Jousse and his companions are evacuated from the camp, under close surveillance of their SS guards. On the 22nd of April, completely exhausted, and not able to walk or talk anymore, on of his guards puts a bullet through his head, mercilessly.

 

Aircraft mechanic, pioneer of the sky, hero of two wars, Camille Jousse was undeniably a great man.

 

 

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