Walter Lovell

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Walter Lovell
New England aviators 1914-1918; their portraits and their records (1919) (14801926913) (border cropped).jpg
Born (1884-09-09)September 9, 1884
Newton, Massachusetts
Died September 10, 1937(1937-09-10) (aged 53)
Bay Shore, New York
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch American Ambulance Hospital Field Service
Aéronautique Militaire (France)
United States Army Air Service
Years of service American Ambulance (1915-1916)
French Air Service (22 May 1916-24 October 1917)
United States Army Air Service (24 October1917-January 1919)
Rank Major

Aéronautique Militaire

Battles/wars World War I
Awards Croix de guerre with Star (Ambulance)
Croix de guerre with Palm (Aviation)
Médaille d'Argent
Spouse(s) Helene Du Bouchet
Pilots of SPA 124 Escadrille Lafayette at Chaudun, France, 10 July 1917

Walter Lovell (September 9, 1884 – September 10, 1937) was a World War I volunteer pilot and an American serviceman. He was born in Newton, Massachusetts to Wallace D. and Josephine (Hastings) Lowell. Walter attended Newton High School (now Newton North High School) and graduated from Harvard College with Bachelor of Arts degree, Harvard College Class of 1907. He stayed in Boston and went into brokerage business after graduation.[1]

American Ambulance volunteer[edit]

In January 1915, Walter Lovell departed for England on SS Lusitania, and in February 1915, joined the American Ambulance Hospital Field Service, known also as the American Field Service, in France. In the spring of 1915, the French High Command authorized creation of foreign sanitary sections of the American Ambulance and allowed them to be sent to the Western Front as part of the French Army Automobile Service. Lovell was dispatched to Alsace and after six months became second in command of the American Automobile Sanitary Section N° 2 of the Sanitary Service of the 73rd division displaying leadership qualities. His citation in May 1916 mentioned that he "has always given proof of a noteworthy spirit; has constantly set the example of courage to the other drivers, and has been an invaluable assistant to the commander of his Section".[2] Ambulance service earned Lovell his first Croix de Guerre for bravery and courage.[3] In the summer of 1916, Lowell along with Clyde Balsley, Willis Haviland, Thomas Hewitt, Henry Jones, James McConnell and Robert Rockwell applied for a transfer from American Field Service to French Air Service.[4]

French Air Service[edit]

From June 1916 till March 1917, he underwent training in different aviation schools in Buc, Avord and Pau, and finally was breveted on 1 October 1916 at Buc Aviation School.[5]:324 Lowell joined the Lafayette Escadrille on 26 February 1917, going on to become one of the unit's most dependable fliers and patrol leaders.[5]:325[6]

During his ten-month stay at the Western Front of the World War I as a fighter-pilot, Sergeant Walter Lovell flew near daily Nieuport 17 and Spad VII aircraft on different missions, mostly behind the enemy line, eventually becoming Lafayette Escadrille's Adjutant.[7][8] He scored only one confirmed victory - over Dun-sur-Meuse, in a close fight with Albatros D.V[9] - many, according to James Norman Hall and other fellow-pilots, remained unaccountable.[5]:327 Lovell left the Lafayette Escadrille on 24 October 1917 for General Headquarters of the American Expeditionary Force at Chaumont after his medical test indicated a hearing loss and color blindness,[10] which kept him behind a desk for the balance of the war. In the Lafayette Escadrille, Lowell was not alone in his physical deficiency since the medical board discovered to its surprise that Raoul Lufbery did not have a proper sense of balance, William Thaw, Charles Dolan and Dudley Hill had poor vision in one eye, and Henry Jones had flat feet, which did not stop them from becoming celebrated World War I fliers.[11]

United States Army Air Service[edit]

After being accepted to the United States Army Air Service, Walter Lovell was promoted to Captain on 1 January 1918, and to Major in August 1918, and went on to serve as a member of the French Aviation Mission in Paris and chief aviation instructor in the United States from July 1918 till the Armistice.[5]:327

Later life[edit]

Walter Lovell resigned his commissions in January 1919 at Washington, D.C. and took residence in Paris, where he had married Helėne Du Bouchet on 16 April 1918 in the American Church on Rue de Berri.[12]

September 10, 1937, Walter Lovell died after a three-month illness connected to brain abscess.[13]


  1. ^ Harvard College. Secretary's Fourth Report. Norwood, Mass: Plimpton Press, 1917, p. 238.
  2. ^ Armées de l'Est État-Major Général. 73ème Division, XIV Tributes and Citations. C. Q. G., le 24 Mai 1916.
  3. ^ Lowell, A. Lawrence. New England Aviators, 1914-1918: Their Portraits and Their Records. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Pub, 1997.
  4. ^ Americans in the French Air Service New England Air Museum.
  5. ^ a b c d Hall, James Norman, Charles Nordhoff, and Edgar G. Hamilton. The Lafayette Flying Corps. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1920.
  6. ^ Mason, Herbert Molloy. The Lafayette Escadrille. New York: Random House, 1964.
  7. ^ Thenault, Georges. Journal des marches et opérations pendant la campagne du l4/8/16 au 9/9/17. France, 1916-1917.
  8. ^ McConnell, James R. Flying for France: With the American Escadrille at Verdun. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Page & Co, 1917.
  9. ^ Franks, Norman L. R. Aircraft Versus Aircraft: The Illustrated Story of Fighter Pilot Combat from 1914 to the Present Day. London: Grub Street, 1998, p. 29.
  10. ^ Mason, Herbert Molloy. The United States Air Force: A Turbulent History. New York: Mason/Charter, 1976, p. 70.
  11. ^ Flammer, Philip M. The Vivid Air, the Lafayette Escadrille. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1981.
  12. ^ Harvard Alumni Bulletin. Volume 20, p. 571.
  13. ^ Walter Lovell, War Flier, Dead, Lafayette Escadrille Member Succumbs in Bay Shore on 53d Birthday. The New York Times, September 10, 1937.

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