Tarn-et-Garonne. The figure of Léon Bourjade floats on Lamothe-Capdeville

the essential Hero of the sky during the First World War, the Montalbanais was given the nickname of “sausage grill.” A monument inaugurated yesterday now pays homage to him.

The family and friends of Léon Bourjade’s family gathered yesterday in the hamlet of Cos in Lamothe-Capdeville to inaugurate a monument paying homage to him. Born in 1889, in Montauban, Léon Bourjade was a hero of the First World War. His nephew, René Benoist de Saint Ange, aged 106 years, former professor of drawing and art history, wished to erect this memorial at the entrance of the family home. Léon Bourjade really liked this place, he liked to dream and meditate there, it was his space of freedom.

After having studied in Montauban, he intended for a religious career and left for Switzerland. In 1910, he was called to do his military service. In July 1914, he was in Cos to attend the wedding of his older brother, when war broke out. He joined his regiment in Toulouse, was assigned to the long-range artillery service. In 1915, he was appointed liaison officer then volunteered to join the trenches on the front line. His experience as an artilleryman allows him to handle the small guns called “crapouillots”. He realizes that the greatest danger comes from the Drachen (dragons), German observation balloons equipped with cameras which spotted French positions.

How to destroy them? By attacking them from the sky. He then asked for his transfer to aviation and, after training, joined the N squadron 106 whose emblem is the crocodile. He achieved his first aerial successes in 1948 always with the objective of blinding the German army by destroying their Drachen.

He was entrusted with a very efficient single-seat fighter plane, the SPAD S.XIII, with which he had a series of victories. He will then be nicknamed the “sausage grill” in reference to the elongated shape of these captive balloons.

Croix de guerre and Legion d’honneur

While the German army thought to win the war on 15 July 1918, it will shoot down four Drachen, thus deflecting the deluge of shells far from the French lines. This battle was decisive and marked the end of the war. The role of Léon Bourjade was decisive. His performance during his sixty-seven air battles earned him recognition as one of the greatest pilots of the Great War. He will be distinguished with the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honor (knight then officer). When the war was over, he completed his religious training in Switzerland and returned to his vocation as a missionary. He was ordained a priest on 15 July 1924 and began a journey of no return to Papua. Undermined by illness, he died three years later at the age of 28 years. Jean Benoist de Saint Jean paid homage to his great uncle by retracing the main lines of his life. Alain Gabach, Mayor of Lamothe Capdeville was present as well as Lieutenant Colonel Massé, Mr. Rouleaud, General Delegate of the French Remembrance, Abbot Daniel Seguy and the Scouts of Europe section Léon de Bourjade.

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