The newly arrived SPAD S.VII of Captain Thenault. Note the captain’s special butterfly insignia on the fuselage.

“We certainly were all very glad when America declared war - it was about time - at least if she did not declare war - she should of prepared (sic) herself - As it is now she can do but little before six or eight months. The War will certainly last sometime yet -”
Sgt. Robert Soubiran
Lafayette Escadrille
17 July 1917

Sergent William Dugan with the recently acquired “Soda” at Saint-Juste. April 1917.

The squadron was ordered to Saint-Juste field near Ravenel to winter over and to prepare for the spring offensive. Living conditions were harsh, and the cold weather severely limited flying.

During March, the Germans began a retreat in the Somme sector, and the Allies pursued them with the squadron flying reconnaissance for General Nivelle’s forces.

From mid April to early June, the fighting was fierce both on the ground and in the air, and the squadron lost Edmond Genet, Ronald Hoskier, and Lieutenant deLaage deMeux within a few weeks. In April and May, the unit fought 66 air battles, one a day average, and downed seven of the enemy.

And while at Saint-Juste, William Thaw went to Paris and bought “Soda,” a female lion cub, as a companion for “Whiskey.”

On 6 April, President Woodrow Wilson declared America at War with Germany.

Ray Bridgeman, Andrew Courtney Campbell, Carl Dolan, John Drexel, and Henry Jones joined the squadron at Ham.


Sergent Harold Willis beside his Nieuport at Saint-Juste. Willis, a trained architect, redesigned the Indian insignia on the fuselage. In World War II, Willis returned to Europe with the American Field Service Ambulance Corps.

Caporal Ted Parsons stands beside his overturned Nieuport scout at Ham. Note the damaged landing gear.

 

 

Wreckage and marker at the site of Ronald Hoskier’s fatal crash.

The squadron with an infantry honor guard turn out for the funeral of Caporal Genet. Father Armonier is in the foreground. Genet was awarded the “Medaille Militaire” posthumously.