Luxeuil - April-May 1916

The seven original members of the Lafayette Escadrille first saw service flying out of Luxeuil in the Vosges sector near the border with Switzerland.

These Americans were Victor E. Chapman, Elliot C. Cowdin, Weston (Bert) Hall, James R. McConnell, Norman Prince, Kiffin Rockwell, and William Thaw.

The unit was commanded by Captaine Georges Thénault, and Lieutenant Alfred DeLage de Meux was executive officer. Both were veterans of the French Air Service.

At that time, the squadron was still known as the Escadrille Americaine prior to Germany’s objection to the name. The squadron was officially designated N-124 since it flew Nieuport 17 C-1 fighters.

The Luxeuil Aerodrome was adjacent to the spa at Luxeuil and the pilots were billeted in a nearby villa. The aerodrome had a two-mile-long airstrip which was shared with a British unit.

The Vosges sector was relatively quiet and the squadron’s primary duty was protecting squadrons of Farman and Bréguet bombers.

The Escadrille flew its first official patrol on 13 May and five days later Kiffin Rockwell scored the squadron’s first victory.

The squadron suffered no losses in the air but four mechanics were killed during a German bombing raid on the aerodrome.


Captaine Georges Thénault of the Service Aeronautique, the commander of the squadron.


The Lafayette Escadrille was stationed in several locations during the Great War. As you navigate this section, you can go directly to any of the other six Conflict Location pages directly by clicking on that location's name.

 

 

 

William Thaw was a founder of the Lafayette Escadrille. A native of Pittsburg, Thaw attended Yale and was a licensed pilot before joining the Foreign Legion.


Sgt. Kiffin Rockwell with his crew testing the Lewis gun on his Nieuport 11.

James McConnell, Victor Chapman and Kiffin Rockwell relax with a game of billiards at the Pomme d’Or (Golden Apple) in Luxeuil.