Jean Navarre

Last updated
Jean Marie Dominique Navarre
Nickname(s)"The Sentinel of Verdun"
Born(1895-08-08)8 August 1895
Jouy-sur-Morin, France
Died10 July 1919(1919-07-10) (aged 23)
Villacoublay, France
Allegiance Flag of France.svg France
Service/branchFrench Army
Years of service1914–1919
Rank Sous lieutenant
Jean Marie Dominique Navarre. Jean Marie Dominique Navarre.jpg
Jean Marie Dominique Navarre.

Jean Marie Dominique Navarre (8 August 1895 – 10 July 1919) was a French aviator during World War I. As one of the pioneer flying aces, he was credited with twelve confirmed aerial victories and fifteen unconfirmed ones. [1]

Flying ace distinction given to fighter pilots

A flying ace, fighter ace or air ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down several enemy aircraft during aerial combat. The actual number of aerial victories required to officially qualify as an ace has varied, but is usually considered to be five or more.


Early life

Born on 8 August 1895 in Jouy-sur-Morin, Navarre turned out to be a difficult child who challenged his teachers and frequently played truant with his younger brother. [2] [3]

Jouy-sur-Morin Commune in Île-de-France, France

Jouy-sur-Morin is a commune in the Seine-et-Marne department in the Île-de-France region in north-central France.

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is listed in the DSM-5 under Disruptive, impulse-control, and conduct disorders and defined as "a pattern of angry/irritable mood, argumentative/defiant behavior, or vindictiveness" in children and adolescents. Unlike children with conduct disorder (CD), children with oppositional defiant disorder are not aggressive towards people or animals, do not destroy property, and do not show a pattern of theft or deceit.

Truancy unexcused absence from school

Truancy is any intentional, unjustified, unauthorized, or illegal absence from compulsory education. It is absence caused by students of their own free will, and usually does not refer to legitimate excused absences, such as ones related to medical conditions. Truancy is usually explicitly defined in the school's handbook of policies and procedures. Some children whose parents claim to homeschool have also been found truant in the United States. Other terms for truancy include playing hooky, skiving off, and bunking. Attending school but not going to class is called skipping class. Recent estimates in the United States suggest that approximately 11% of adolescents have skipped school during the past month.

Navarre earned Civil Pilot's Brevet No. 581 on 22 August 1911. This earned him immediate entry into French military aviation in August 1914, when the World War began. [3]

World War I service

Jean Navarre inspecting a captured German aircraft (Le Miroir, 14 November 1915). Couv LeMiroir-1915 Navarre.jpg
Jean Navarre inspecting a captured German aircraft (Le Miroir, 14 November 1915).

In September 1914, Navarre earned Military Pilot's Brevet No. 601. He was originally assigned to Escadrille MF8. [fn 1] He then joined the MS12 reconnaissance squadron, flying Morane-Saulnier L aircraft, [3] nicknamed 'parasol' due to the large upper wing covering most of its narrow fuselage.[ citation needed ] Shortly thereafter, on 1 April 1915, Navarre was the pilot when his observer shot down a German Aviatik north of Fismes. Navarre's first victory earned him a Médaille militaire, awarded just five days later, to join his Croix de Guerre. On 13 April 1915, Navarre again scored while flying with a different gunner. On 2 August 1915, he was made a Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur, with the citation based as much on secretive special missions as on aerial victory. He would score once more, on 26 October 1915, before reassignment to Escadrille 67 to fly a Nieuport. [3]

Surveillance aircraft aircraft designed for sustained observation over time by onboard persons or sensors

A surveillance aircraft is an aircraft used for surveillance—collecting information over time. They are operated by military forces and other government agencies in roles such as intelligence gathering, battlefield surveillance, airspace surveillance, observation, border patrol and fishery protection. This article concentrates on aircraft used in those roles, rather than for traffic monitoring, law enforcement and similar activities.

Morane-Saulnier L fighter aircraft

The Morane-Saulnier L, or Morane-Saulnier Type L, or officially MoS-3, was a French parasol wing one or two-seat scout aeroplane of the First World War. The Type L became one of the first successful fighter aircraft when it was fitted with a single machine gun that fired through the arc of the propeller, which was protected by armoured deflector wedges. Its immediate effectiveness in this role launched an arms race in fighter development, and the Type L was swiftly rendered obsolete. The original Type L used wing warping for lateral control, but a later version designated Type LA was fitted with ailerons.

Navarre was flying an aircraft that he had painted a patriotic and striking red, white, and blue. When he received a new Nieuport 11 fighter aircraft, he deliberately painted it all red to challenge and intimidate the enemy in the skies over Verdun, well before his German counterpart would gain notoriety as the Red Baron. [fn 2] Navarre began his victory string with his new unit by scoring one of the first "doubles" of the war, downing a Fokker E.III and a German two-seater on 26 February 1916, and becoming one of the first flying aces in history. He was dubbed the first official French flying ace, [2] though Adolphe Pégoud preceded him. [6] Navarre tallied half a dozen more wins during the next three months and on May 19, 1916 he shot down a German Aviatik C over Chattancourt, France, becoming the first Allied ace credited with 10 victories. [7]

Nieuport 11 fighter aircraft

The Nieuport 11, nicknamed the Bébé, was a French World War I single seat sesquiplane fighter aircraft, designed by Gustave Delage. It was the primary aircraft that ended the Fokker Scourge in 1916. The type saw service with several of France's allies, and gave rise to the series of "vee-strut" Nieuport fighters that remained in service into the 1920s.

Verdun Subprefecture and commune in Grand Est, France

Verdun is a small city in the Meuse department in Grand Est in northeastern France. It is an arrondissement of the department.

Fokker E.III fighter aircraft

The Fokker E.III was the main variant of the Eindecker fighter aircraft of World War I. It entered service on the Western Front in December 1915 and was also supplied to Austria-Hungary and Turkey.

On 17 June 1916, Navarre teamed with Georges Pelletier d'Oisy for Navarre's twelfth win. In the process, Jean Navarre was shot down and sustained severe head injuries from which he never fully recovered. Navarre's younger brother was killed in a flying accident at about the same time. Jean Navarre was removed from active duty and sent to a sanatorium to convalesce. [3] He would return to duty in 1918, though he would not again fly in combat. [2]

Capitaine Georges Pelletier d'Oisy (1892–1953) was a French aviator and World War I ace. He attempted a circumnavigation of the world in 1924.

Personal life during World War I

The red aeroplane of Navarre.
The "Guardian of Verdun". Ni-11 Navarre.jpg
The red aeroplane of Navarre.
The "Guardian of Verdun".

In the early days of the war, flyers mainly flew reconnaissance missions, and their aircraft were not armed. Flyers would sometimes wave at their opponents when meeting in the air. Navarre felt strongly that combatants should kill their enemies; there was no room for fraternizing gestures. He later became one of the first flying aces.[ citation needed ]

Navarre continuously experimented with ways to improve his aircraft's armament, at one point even installing rockets. By this time, Navarre had achieved 12 victories despite his technical handicap.[ citation needed ]

Navarre became close friends with fellow ace Charles Nungesser, who was as reckless and insubordinate as himself. In addition to their growing reputation as flying aces, Navarre and Nungesser also became extremely popular in Parisian nightlife for a number of colorful and unorthodox stunts.[ citation needed ]

Post-World War I

After the end of hostilities, a victory parade was planned on the Champs Élysées on 14 July 1919. However, the high command ordered airmen to participate on foot rather than flying their aircraft. The headstrong 'heroes of the air' took this as an insult. At a meeting in the 'Fouquet' bar on the Champs Élysées, they decided to respond to this affront by selecting one of their number to fly through the Arc de Triomphe. Navarre, as the first among the aces, was considered the ideal choice despite his injuries. Tragically, however, while practicing for this stunt, Navarre crashed his aircraft and died at Villacoublay aerodrome on 10 July. He was only 23 years old. Fellow pilot Charles Godefroy would eventually perform the historic flight through the Arc de Triomphe a few weeks later.[ citation needed ]

Honors and awards

Médaille militaire

"Sergent pilot of Escadrille MS12 of remarkable skill and audacity. He has battled two enemy aircraft in one week, meeting them and attacking from a few meters in spite of the enemy observer's fire. He forced one of them to land behind our lines, allowing the pilot and observer, both of whom had been wounded by his observer's fire, to be taken prisoner." [3]

Légion d'honneur

"Adjudant pilot of Escadrille MS12, remarkably adroit and devoted, he has had several aerial combats, one of which permitted the capture of two enemy officers and an enemy aircraft. He volunteers for all the delicate missions, and has executed special and particularly perilous missions with complete success." [3]


  1. The "MF" designating the unit's use of Maurice Farman aircraft.
  2. Sources report Navarre as having an all-red Nieuport as early as February 1916. [2] [4] Richthofen was first known to have a red Albatros in January 1917. [5]

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  1. Franks (2000), p. 59.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Who's Who - Jean Navarre". Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Franks & Bailey (1992), pp. 196–197.
  4. Franks (2000), p. 94.
  5. Guttman & Dempsey (2009), pp. 63.
  6. Franks & Bailey (1992), pp. 201–202.
  7. Hollway, Don (November 2012). "The Sentinel of Verdun". Aviation History. Retrieved 18 May 2016.