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  • Philip Dunn

An Ace and a King

Updated: Dec 25, 2019

Good evening everyone,


So it's not Goodbye EU Day but it is Halloween! (That's supposed to be a pun but you might have to think about it).


Anyway, that's by the by and the point of this particular blog is to wrap up at last my short but extremely interesting trip to Normandy while I can still say it was last month. And, it turns out that, just back round the corner from the chateau in Beaucamps-le-Jeune, (see my blog before last), there is a little privately run museum dedicated to the early days of aviation, particularly its development during the First World War...


Hotel La Chaîne D'or, les Andelys

...well, I don't know whether you remember (or even care) but, when in the Summer I stayed in this hotel on the banks of the Seine, southeast of Rouen...


...I was in a room dedicated to this guy: Georges Guynmeyer, a French WW1 fighter pilot, who had about 54 (reports vary) victories before being killed in 1917, and who had a family connection to the hotel, but of whom I'd never before heard mention ...


...so, on a wet Sunday afternoon, I left Arty to the tender mercies of the dogs at the chateau and traipsed through the rain round to this extraordinary museum, (which eventually opened after a typically Gallic extended lunch), and where I looked for and soon found more information about my recently discovered hero...


...and while I waited to be able to chat to Monsieur Patrick Lecointe, the founder of the museum, which was opened only last year to perpetuate the memory of his great-great-uncle, buried in the town, who was a pioneer of aviation and a pilot instructor..


...I wandered round the exhibits...

...taking in this extraordinary collection of uniformed mannequins, and wondering why, for instance, this flying officer is carrying a football (perhaps he's a high kicker)...


...and whether this already wounded on the hand artillery spotter ever had to bail out of the basket beneath his barrage balloon...


...and which side exactly were this motley bunch actually fighting on...


...when, suddenly, it was love at first sight with this young heroine, with her bloody mop, nonchalantly ignoring the dying man on the stretcher behind her...


...and then, finally, I was able to speak to the owner and collector who, as soon as I mentioned my discovery of Georges Guynmeyer, proudly reached up and brought down his actual valise. A few minutes later, I saw the man in the hat (at the back of this picture) sitting at a nearby table studying a pilot's log. He was so still that I thought him to be an exhibit but, as I focussed my camera on him, he moved. Monsieur Lecointe and I both laughed out loud, much to the consternation of the suddenly animated mannequin.


A couple of days later, Jan and I headed up to the coast again, this time to Saint-Valery-sur-Somme...


...where William the Conqueror sheltered from a storm...


...in the estuary of the River Somme...


...where he rested up ..


...in this pretty little village, before crossing the Channel to invade England....


...and, not bothering with a referendum...


...made us all Europeans...


...whether we liked it or not. Of course, that was not only one in the eye for Harold, they can't spell Hastings and, despite their assertions, there are only three trees, Perhaps we should misspell our subsequent victories over the French. There are certainly a lot more of them.


In my opinion, though, better entente cordiale than dead in a ditch.


Love,


Philip Xx






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