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An American Volunteer with the Royal Flying Corp

Croix de Guerre

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Croix de Guerre

Rastatt prison contained a wide variety of prisoners with almost all of the allied nations represented. The British outnumbered the others, French next with a smattering of Italians, Belgians and three Americans. The Americans were two doctors a Dr. Maxon from Baltimore and a Dr. Kane of Washington. They were on detached service with the English when they were captured. The third American was an aviator named Wardle from Memphis, Tennessee.


Now here is where the story takes a turn for the surreal.


When I first began researching Thomson and I ran across this American aviator mentioned, I naturally reached for "Wings of Honor" to look up Wardle. To my disappointment he wasn't there. But I know that the book is far from complete so I didn't let this dissuade me. I made a few calls to some heavy hitting gurus and a little while later I was informed that Wardle was a ferry pilot (that is, he would ferry aircraft back and forth from different airfields) and that is why he wasn't listed in the rosters as he wasn't attached to a squadron. This is how he was captured having gotten lost in bad weather and landing behind German lines.


I start thinking,,hmmm,, think.gif , I'll have to run that guy down. Unusual name, possibly forgotten aviator from the South,,,nice lead. I then get a phone call from your friend and mine Belleau Wood (aka Dennis).


"What are you doing"? he asks. "I'm trying to run down this guy name Wardle, who was in a POW camp with my RFC pilot". I reply. "What do want to know about Frank Wardle"? BW says. "How the hell do you know about Wardle"? I exclaim! Belleau Wood paused and shouted "Your not gonna believe this, but I have his group"!


So yes gentle readers, , ,,what are the odds? :blink: BW got his group some months before I got mine. We talked about his guy, I vaguely remembered him mentioning that he had been a POW. But when I got my group and ran across the name of an American aviator that my pilot befriended, never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that such a coincidence was possible! Sometimes I feel that there is something more than chance at work here.


Of course we both freaked out. The two groups shared several of the same photographs and from the captions we were able to shed light on both of our groups. Soon after we made arrangements to reunite these two war birds for the first time since they parted ways in 1918.




Oh yeah and PS,,,both of those uniforms are the same ones they were wearing when they met in Rastatt prsion in July 1918.


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1st AAA Group

Wow!!!! Just a fantastic thread... :blink:


Btw, at one time I lived not far from Rastatt. Went there many times. Do not recall a fortress prison. There is a Palace though that was the residence of the former Dukes of Baden. The old military barracks during WWI was the home of the 40th Fusilier Regiment so they would not have been held there. As an aside, from the picture you provided barbed wire fencing can be seen around the perimeter enclosure which appears to have been constructed for the POW's.

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Tom has told you the story. However, the scope of Thompsons group is too comprehensive to place the volumes of material that is in Thompson's artifacts. The Thompson / Wardle groups are not the only groups that Tom and I have that are joined at the hip. -----That's what is so unusual about our collections and museums.



At any rate, The following images and scrip are that of 1st. Lt. Herbert A. Wardle, Pilot - 1st Army Aviation Acceptance Park, AEF, France/England 1917-1919--------


Fun Stuff!!!



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