For so long, I have wanted to find out more about Quentin Roosevelt, youngest son of our 26th President Theodore Roosevelt.
He was one of the most famous casualties of all of World War I for any side, ranking up there with the Red Baron, and making headlines in newspapers around the world when he was shot down and killed.
The young man died 90 years ago in France, during the last semester of World War I, shot down in a dogfight on Bastille Day, July 14, 1918. Roosevelt was born November 19, 1897, making him just 20 when he died. He was based in my grandfather Robert Thibault's village of Saints at the time and it is through my grandfather that I first heard of these brave American aviators.
Saints is a small town so small that it fails to make any of the large Michelin or IGN fold out maps of France. But it is there and has been since at least the 1100s when it appears on early maps as "Sanz". So Saints - a beautiful, simple and typical agricultural French village perched gently above the Petit Aubetin River, modest homes speckled with fired clay tile roofs and near white stucco walls and a single Romanesque parish church somewhere between 500 to 1,000 years old depending on which stones we're talking about - would have been the last place on the ground Quentin touched while he was alive.
As importantly, this one tiny village became the operating base of the entire US Air Service - precursor to today's great and mighty US Air Force - for just short of two months - from July 8 to September 1, 1918 out of the five months it saw combat.
Two adjacent villages - Mauperthuis and Touquin - also play a role in the lives of these men and the US Air Service. The men were based in Touquin from the end of June until July 8th, when they moved to Saints. And the men were lodged in Mauperthuis, half a mile from Saints, while they were flying out of Saints.
If you would like the link to a 10 mb document by Narayan Sengupta about the pilots in Saints, Touquin and Mauperthuis, please let us know by sending us an e-mail to Contact Us!
Learn more about the United States Air Service's 1st Pursuit Group:
Toul, Touquin, Saints and Mauperthuis and Rembercourt, "American Eagles" - 345 page illustrated history of US Combat Aviation in World War I