Monday, May 22, 2017

Armand Pinsard

Pinsard was born in Nercillac, Department of Charente, in the cognac country of France. He joined the military in 1906 and fought in Morocco as a cavalryman in 2nd Regiment de Spahis.
He then transferred to aviation in May 1912, becoming one of the rare professional military men to become a prewar pilot. He trained as a pilot at Chateau Fort on a Borel pusher two seater aircraft, and proved to be a natural.

In September 1914, he was promoted to adjutant and received his first citation. In October, he participated in a bombing raid that attempted to kill the German Kaiser. He was commissioned in November 1914 because of this bombing raid. It was about this time that he pioneered the use of an aircraft to place an espionage agent behind enemy lines, an act that brought him a second citation.

In February 1915, he fell into German hands and was held prisoner of war when his plane was forced down behind German lines. It took him a month to recover from injuries received in the accident. Thirteen months and several attempts later, Pinsard tunneled under a prison wall to freedom. It took him another two weeks to cross the lines into neutral Switzerland and to repatriate himself on April 10, 1915.

His reward for his daring escape was retraining as a fighter pilot and an assignment to France's foremost fighter squadron, Les Cigognes. By July 1916, he was flying a Nieuport with Squadron N26. On August 7th, in a pioneering close air support role, he made no fewer than six firing passes on German troops attempting to counterattack a French unit. Then he and his three wingmen went on to strafe a train loaded with German troops.

He was made a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur for this action, the citation read;
"Has shown, under particularly difficult circumstances, exceptional energy and tenacity. Posted to an escadrille de chasse, at his request, he has had numerous combats during the course of which his plane was riddled by bullets. On 7 August 1916, during an infantry attack, he made six strafing runs from a height of 200 meters as German reserves massed for a counter attack. Already cited twice." 

After a winter's layoff, he resumed his winning way on January 23rd 1917, flying as Commanding Officer of Squadron N78. He became an ace on March 6th, and would continue to fly Nieuports into battle until his 16th victory in June, 1917.
Just one week later, Pinsard crashed and suffered serious injuries. He would be confined to hospital for several months. Upon his recovery, he was appointed commanding officer of Squadron Spa23.
Pinsard was entrusted with the first Spad VII fighter to see combat, on August 23rd, 1917. He painted it black and entitled it, Revanche IV ("Revenge IV").

He picked up his victory count with his 17th triumph on February 20th 1918. With his next win, on May 4th, he began a string that saw him down nine observation balloons in his final decade of wins. Rather remarkably, he had help downing only one of the heavily defended balloons. 
His 27th victory came on August 22nd, 1918. 

Pinsard's Officier de la Légion d'Honneur citation read;
"Incomparable escadrille commander, and at the same time an admirable pilot. Constant example of self-denial, spirit and sacrifice, a model of bravery, audacity and strength. Possesses the highest qualities of a leading pilot. Seriously wounded in 1917, he returned to take his place at the front and continue his glorious exploits, bringing his total to 25 victories. Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur for feats of war, cited 13 times in army orders." 

Image result for Officier de la Légion d'Honneur

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