Who's Who - Leon Bourjade
Leon Jean Pierre Bourjade (1889-1924) was a leading French air ace of the First World War, achieving some 28 aerial victories by the war's close.
Born on 25 May 1889 in Montauban Bourjade's early life led him towards a career with the priesthood. He was training to become a priest when war broke out in Europe in August 1914. Despite his religious inclinations he nevertheless returned to France and enlisted with the artillery.
During the crucial First Battle of the Marne of September 1914 Bourjade served with the 23rd Artillery Regiment and subsequently transferred to the 125th Brigade of Bombardiers in 1915 having been meanwhile promoted Marechal des Logis.
It wasn't until 1917 that Bourjade determined to request a switch of focus to the air war. He was granted a transfer and received his pilot's brevet in June that year, thereafter receiving additional training prior to his assignment to Escadrille N152.
Bourjade may have entered into air combat relatively late into the war but he rapidly made up for lost time. By the armistice of November 1918 Bourjade had amassed 28 'kills', of which 27 were balloons; he was therefore one of the most successful 'balloon busters' of the conflict and the most successful member of Escadrille N152.
The recipient of both the Legion d'Honneur Chevalier (June 1918) and Officier (June 1920), Bourjade died on 22 October 1924 in Yui Island, British New Guinea while serving as a missionary in New Guinea.
Shrapnel comprised steel balls ejected from shells upon detonation.
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