Historical souvenir

Objects from early 1914 French military aviation are always highly sought after and this is even more so the case during this commemmorative period for the Second World War centenary.

Aeronautical objects from this era include the famous ''Allion à Versailles'' cockpit clocks. These clocks resemble pocket watches but only much bigger (6.5cm diameter) and with the winding mechanism at 6 o'clock rather than 12 o'clock.

The clock offered here is quite rare, especially as it is accompanied by its original leather case. This is not just a protective case but also an integral accessory that was essential for its use. The detachable clock was fixed to the dashboard with the case and it was therefore one of the rare instruments that were visible to the pilot in-flight.

The clock (# 869802) is in exceptional condition, in terms of both its visible exterior and its mechanism. It has been fully serviced and mainatined and works perfectly.

It is a remarkable part, not only for the above reasons but also because it is not an anonymous object. This is something that will be appreciated by those with a passion for aviation and the Great War. The clock's double case back actually conceals the inscription of the name of its first owner, ''Bertin Eugène''.

There is no point searching for Eugène Bertin amongst the Aces of '14 as he appears in no records of achievement, despite being one of the very first pilots (licence n° 377) and despite having the Légion d’Honneur, the Croix de Guerre with a commendation in the Ordre de l’Armée (1915) and, posthumously, a second commendation in the Ordre de l’Armée (1921) as well as the Portuguese War Cross.

He was honoured for his bravery and his achievements during one of these famous 'Special Missions'' which involved going beyond the front lines and into the middle of the countryside on enemy territory in order to drop off or pick up a spy. These missions, which began in 1915, were highly dangerous and entrusted to only a few pilots including Jules Védrines who was a specialist in this kind of mission.
Eugène Bertin became renowned after one of these special missions for having saved the life of another French pilot. During a rare mission involving two planes, Bertin had dropped off his spy and gone back up into the sky when he noticed his comrade a bit further away. He had had an accident with his plane and the German soldiers were making their way towards him. Bertin disregarded the danger of the situation and decided to pick up his comrade. His plane was damaged and he injured himself in the process but he succeeded in collecting his comrade and flying back to the French lines with him. You can read (in French) the details of his exploit as recounted by Jacques Mortane in the review « La Guerre Aérienne Illustrée » (Air War Illustrated) as well as Auguste Heiligenstein's reference to it in his work « Mémoires d’un observateur pilote » (Memoirs of a pilot observer).

In April 1916 Eugène Bertin became pilot for the constructor Henriot. It was in this capacity that he died on the 26th July 1917 during a plane crash near to Milan.

Because of the copyright it was not possible to publish pictures of this pilot in this page, especially those ones : photo 1, photo 2 and photo 3 (Hosted and published by http://albindenis.free.fr).

You can see that this clock is not just a superb part in perfect working order. It is first and foremost a touching object whose existence allows us to speak of and remember the achievements of this pilot, one of the true pioneers of the French Action Service! 


1 - Photo published in the French site bleuhorizon.canalblog.com
2 - French online sources (especially) : les "As oubliés" de 14-18 et Albindenis.free.fr


French WWI dashboard clock "Allion à Versailles" (diameter. 65 mm / 2.56")
with it's leather case, attributed to the French pilot Eugène Bertin
Price : sold


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