Advertisement

CPL Clifton Badlam Thompson

Advertisement

CPL Clifton Badlam Thompson

Birth
Hyde Park, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, USA
Death
26 Jul 1928 (aged 35)
Warwick, Kent County, Rhode Island, USA
Burial
Foxborough, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, USA Add to Map
Memorial ID
View Source
CLIFTON B. THOMPSON

NO American was ever more loved by his French comrades than "Tommy" Thompson. His twinkling eyes, his infectious grin, and constant readiness for a joke were always irresistible; officers with many rows of stripes round their hats, before whom Squadron Commanders paled and trembled, have been known to clap Thompson familiarly on the back, saying, with a chuckle: "Allons, mon vieux Thompson, ça gaze?"

Before the war Thompson was an intercollegiate cross-country runner of the first order. On one occasion at the Front his speed and endurance won him fame. It was after dinner at the popote, and as the Armistice was being celebrated, every one had consumed more than the ordinary quantity of pinard. Talk turned to cross-country running, and Captain Rougevin, who commanded the Spad 99, began to brag of Thompson's attainments. An argument ensued which ended in an officer from another squadron offering to bet fifty louis that Thompson could not run some phenomenal number of kilometers in an hour. Thompson's comrades took him outside the tent and inquired earnestly if he really believed he could win the bet. Tommy was confident, and the officers of Spad 99 staked every sou they could scrape together on the result. It was a moonlight night and half of Groupe de Combat 20 followed the running on bicycles and in motor-cars. Needless to say, "Tommy" won easily: a valuable member of the Squadron in more senses than one.

The Americans of Groupe 20 will never forget his first ground-strafing expedition. It was in June, 1918, in the small French attack at Ressons-sur-Matz. After an hour of shooting up everything German in sight, Thompson returned to find that he had a hole through the fuselage of his machine, which looked as though a dinner plate had been thrown through it. The huge eclat had missed the pilot's back by the thickness of a cigarette paper.

On another occasion, in the early part of July, he was on patrol over Soissons, when suddenly, above him, appeared two large patrols of the Richtofen group. The Spads immediately began to take altitude; but the red-nosed Fokkers hung above them. Suddenly a German piqued alone — shot two quick bursts, and two Spads, piloted by comrades of Thompson, went plunging down in flames. Maneuvering wildly and with his plane riddled with bullets, Thompson finally managed to extricate himself from a very bad situation. On looking around he discovered that he was twenty-five miles into German territory, and perceived, just ahead of him and following the course he was forced to take toward the lines, a patrol of Fokker triplanes. Flying behind and beneath them, his gun hopelessly jammed, Thompson said that the next two minutes were the longest of his life, but the enemy did not notice him, and he regained our lines in safety.

His record at the Front is a story of faithful and courageous service — of unabated keenness to fly and to fight, of the moral courage which refuses to give way to the grief occasioned by the constant loss of comrades-in-arms.

Source - Google books "The Lafayette Flying Corps, Volume 1" by James Norman Hall, Charles Nordhoff, Edgar G. Hamilton, Houghton Mifflin publisher, 1920.
CLIFTON B. THOMPSON

NO American was ever more loved by his French comrades than "Tommy" Thompson. His twinkling eyes, his infectious grin, and constant readiness for a joke were always irresistible; officers with many rows of stripes round their hats, before whom Squadron Commanders paled and trembled, have been known to clap Thompson familiarly on the back, saying, with a chuckle: "Allons, mon vieux Thompson, ça gaze?"

Before the war Thompson was an intercollegiate cross-country runner of the first order. On one occasion at the Front his speed and endurance won him fame. It was after dinner at the popote, and as the Armistice was being celebrated, every one had consumed more than the ordinary quantity of pinard. Talk turned to cross-country running, and Captain Rougevin, who commanded the Spad 99, began to brag of Thompson's attainments. An argument ensued which ended in an officer from another squadron offering to bet fifty louis that Thompson could not run some phenomenal number of kilometers in an hour. Thompson's comrades took him outside the tent and inquired earnestly if he really believed he could win the bet. Tommy was confident, and the officers of Spad 99 staked every sou they could scrape together on the result. It was a moonlight night and half of Groupe de Combat 20 followed the running on bicycles and in motor-cars. Needless to say, "Tommy" won easily: a valuable member of the Squadron in more senses than one.

The Americans of Groupe 20 will never forget his first ground-strafing expedition. It was in June, 1918, in the small French attack at Ressons-sur-Matz. After an hour of shooting up everything German in sight, Thompson returned to find that he had a hole through the fuselage of his machine, which looked as though a dinner plate had been thrown through it. The huge eclat had missed the pilot's back by the thickness of a cigarette paper.

On another occasion, in the early part of July, he was on patrol over Soissons, when suddenly, above him, appeared two large patrols of the Richtofen group. The Spads immediately began to take altitude; but the red-nosed Fokkers hung above them. Suddenly a German piqued alone — shot two quick bursts, and two Spads, piloted by comrades of Thompson, went plunging down in flames. Maneuvering wildly and with his plane riddled with bullets, Thompson finally managed to extricate himself from a very bad situation. On looking around he discovered that he was twenty-five miles into German territory, and perceived, just ahead of him and following the course he was forced to take toward the lines, a patrol of Fokker triplanes. Flying behind and beneath them, his gun hopelessly jammed, Thompson said that the next two minutes were the longest of his life, but the enemy did not notice him, and he regained our lines in safety.

His record at the Front is a story of faithful and courageous service — of unabated keenness to fly and to fight, of the moral courage which refuses to give way to the grief occasioned by the constant loss of comrades-in-arms.

Source - Google books "The Lafayette Flying Corps, Volume 1" by James Norman Hall, Charles Nordhoff, Edgar G. Hamilton, Houghton Mifflin publisher, 1920.

Sponsored by Ancestry

Advertisement