Who's Who - Adrien Leps

Adrien Leps Adrien Louis Jacques Leps (1893-?) scored 12 victories as a French air ace during World War I, five of which were balloon victories - making him a so-called 'balloon buster', i.e. a specialist in downing enemy observation balloons.

Born in Angers in France on 27 September 1893, Leps joined the French Army in early October 1913, some nine months before general war broke out in Europe.  Once war began Leps showed interest in the latest form of war increasingly adopted by the warring nations, i.e. the war in the air.

Consequently in 1915 he sought and received a transfer to the French Air Service, initially serving in an observation capacity with unit N67.  Wounded in early July 1915 he spent a lengthy period in recuperation before returning to the fray, this time to receive pilot training.  He duly emerged with his pilot certificate towards the close of August 1916.

Four months later Leps was posted to Escadrille N81 and began active fighter pilot duty.  Although he had joined the aerial war somewhat late in the conflict he nevertheless rapidly gained 'ace' status (by downing five aircraft).  Among his final tally of 12 'kills' Leps successfully downed five enemy German observation balloons - a perilous undertaking given the degree of artillery and defensive aerial protection afforded such seemingly static and vulnerable balloons.

Leps was awarded his own country's prestigious Legion d'Honneur on 17 March 1917 for conducting "himself brilliantly on 16 March 1917, downing, during the course of the same flight, two enemy planes"; and he subsequently received the British Military Cross on 11 May 1918.

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