Armand Jean Galliot joseph de Turenne was born in Le Mans, Sarthe, France, the son of Guillaume Auguste Alyre Georges de Turenne and Marie Therese Madeleine Beaumevielle. On the 15th of April 1909 he volunteered to join the Army for a period of three years, and served in the 10eme Regiment de Chasseurs a cheval ( 10th Light Cavalry Regiment ) He was promoted to Brigadier ( Corporal ) on the 10th of February 1910 and to Marechal -des – logis ( Sergeant ) on the 27th of April 1911. His three years ended on the 13th of April 1912, but he rejoined the Army on the 22nd of February 1913 and was posted to the 21eme Regiment de Dragons ( 21st Dragoon Regiment ) based at Saint – Omer. he was promoted to Marechal – des – logis fourrier ( Quartermaster Sergeant ) on the !8th of April 1913.
On the 10th of August 1914, just a week after the outbreak of World War One, de Turenne was appointed as an aspirant ( officer candidate ). On the 15th of July 1915, he transferred to the Army’s Aviation Service, the Aeronautique Militaire as an observer / bombardier serving in Escadrille VB102 of the 1er Groupe de Bombardement, based at Malzeville from the 21st of July to the 6th of August 1915. He then trained as a pilot receiving military pilot brevet No.2135 at the military flying school at Pau on the 21st of December 1915 and was commissioned as a Sous – Lieutenant on the 26th of December.
After advanced training at the military flying school at Avord from the 4th of January to the 7th of March 1916, he was assigned to the Reserve Generale de l’Aviation ( RGA ) from the 7th of March to the 13th of June, then finally to Escadrille N.48 on the 13th of June 1916, to fly Nieuport fighters. He scored his first victory on November the 17th 1916, and was promoted to Lieutenant on the 31st of December. He was made a Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur on the 22nd of July 1917. His citation reading, ‘ A very courageous pilot who gives daily the highest example of boldness and initiative. On the 6th of July 1917, he downed, in the course of one flight, his third and fourth German aircraft, one of these in our lines. Cited in orders three times.’
By the 30th of September 1917, he had half a dozen aerial victories to his credit. Five of them were shared with fellow aces Jean Matton, Gilbert de Guingand and Rene Montrion. De Turenne was appointed commander of Escadrille SPA 12 on the 12th of January 1918. In his nine victories with the SPADS of this squadron, he continued with teamwork in combat and branched out to become a balloon buster by downing two observation balloons. He not only shared victories with fellow aces Marcel Marc Dhome and Emile Regnier, but with several other pilots. An interesting sidelight on de Turenne’s victory list is that he only claimed two solo victories, and there were no fewer than fifteen other pilots sharing one or more of his other thirteen triumphs. He was promoted to the temporary rank of Capitaine on the 17th of July 1918, and this was made permanent on the 25th of December. His achievements were not just personal ones; his squadron was cited in General Orders for their accomplishments whilst under his command.
De Turenne’s awards included the Legion d’Honneur, Medaille Militaire, Croix de Guerre, the British Military Cross and the Belgian Croix de Guerre. He scored 15 Aerial Victories, this figure included two observation balloons.
(C) Damian Grange 2021