Air Aces of World War One

Lieutenant Petar Marinovic – French Ace – 1898 / 1919

Petar Marinovic was born in Paris on the 1st of August 1898, to Velizar and Agripina Marinovic. His father was Serbian and his mother Polish. Marinovic’s paternal grandfather, served as Prime Minister of Serbia between 1873 and 1874, and was Serbian Ambassador to France 1879 to 1889. Marinovic attended school in France and Ireland, and was fluent In English, his nickname was Marino.

At seventeen years old Marinovic enlisted in the 27e Regiment de Dragoons on the 12th of February 1916. On the 6th of July, he transferred to Aviation as a Student Pilot and received Military Pilots Brevet No.4910 on the 15th of November 1916. Marinovic received his graduate diploma on the 19th of March 1917 and was assigned to Escadrille No.38. He became seriously ill shortly afterwards, and had to spend two months in a French Military Hospital.

Upon his release from Hospital, he was assigned to Escadrille No.94 which was being formed near Chalons-en-Champagne. The unit earned their nickname ‘The Reapers’ and adopted the grim reaper as their logo. Marinovic was promoted to the rank of Marechal des Logis on the 26th of July 1917. On the 10th of January 1918, he was awarded the Medaille Militaire in recognition of his third Aerial victory. Marinovic claimed his first four kills flying Nieuport 24’s. On the 30th of January 1918, Escadrille No.94 was relocated to Villenueve-les-Vertus and incorporated into Groupe de Chasse XVIII under the command of Captain Jacques Sabattier de Vignolle.

Marinovic was promoted to Adjutant on the 20th of February 1918. On the 26th of March he attacked a German two-seater 800 metres (2,600 ft) above Caurel, and watched as it spiralled down towards the ground exuding smoke before he disengaged at a height of 400 metres (1,300ft). This was initially listed as a ‘probable kill’ and was not confirmed until after the war. On the 15th of May, he downed a German reconnaissance aircraft over Essertaux, its crew were later taken prisoner. Four days later, Marinovic shot down a Rumpler just south of Moreuill. By this point the French press had begun referring to him as ‘The Youngest Ace’ because of his youth.

On the 31st of May, Marinovic shot down a two-seater near Villers – Cotterets, the pilot Unteroffizier Hippolyt Kaminski was killed and his observer captured. A few minutes later he downed a Fokker Dr1, on the 5th of June Marinovic and Andre- Henri Martenot de Cordou teamed up to destroy a German two-seater over Parcy -et Tigny. On the 1st of July Marinovic downed another Rumpler near Monnes. Two weeks later Marinovic participated in the destruction of two enemy aircraft. On the 22nd of July he destroyed another Rumpler. He was made Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur on the 11th of August 1918. On the 17th of August he shot down a Rumpler and a Fokker D.VII. Marinovic was promoted to Second Lieutenant on the 20th of October and awarded the Croix de Guerre. Marinovic finished the war with a total of 22 victories. He survived the war only to die in a flying accident in 1919.

(C) Damian Grange 2020

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