P-38 Lightning F4, 2éme escadrille du Groupe de Reconnaissance 2/33,
1944, pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
original artwork - oil on canvas, 80x30 cm
Antoine Jean-Baptiste Marie Roger de Saint Exupéry was born in Lyon in 1900.
In 1922 he obtained his pilot license. Exupéry became one of the pioneers of international postal flight, in the days when aircraft had few instruments.
Saint Exupéry continued to write and fly with postal until the beginning of World War II. During the war, he initially flew with the GR II/33 reconnaissance squadron of the Armée de l'Air. After France's 1940 armistice with Germany, he traveled to the United States where he wrote his famous The Little Prince. Following his nearly twenty-five months in North America, Saint Exupéry returned to Europe to fly with the Free French Forces and fight with the Allies in a Mediterranean-based squadron. In his 43 years he was older than most men assigned such duties and he was assigned with a number of other pilots to P-38 Lightnings, which an officer described as "war-weary, non-airworthy craft." Saint Exupéry's final assignment was to collect intelligence on German troop movements in and around the Rhone Valley preceding the Allied invasion of southern France. On the evening of July 31, 1944, he left from an airbase on Corsica, and was never seen again. A woman reported having watched a plane crash around noon of August the first near the Bay of Carqueiranne off Toulon. An unidentifiable body wearing French colors was found several days later and buried in Carqueiranne that September.
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