Antoine de Saint Exupéry

(1900-1944)

 

Homage

On the 3rd of November on 1944 the French Command - with the consent of De Gaull we suppose - offered to the dead Exupéry the medal of the War Order . In 1974 Paramount will shoot a movie based on "The Little Prince" to commemorate the 30 years of his death .In 1994 , 50 years after his death the french television will devote a picture to him under the title "The last mission" (see the Films link at the bottom of this page) while the French state circulates a 50 francs bill with his portrait , the picture of the Little Prince and the trajectory flown to Saigon .On the other side a Breguet-14 with 2 aviators of the days of the South Courier . Then another honor was added : The International Airport of Lyon (LFLL) Satolas was named after the writer to Lyon Saint Exupéry 

The bill of 50 french francs devoted to Exupéry , the Little Prince , the route to Saigon and the South Courier

 

Stamps and envelopes issued on the memory of the writer 

 

The quest for his body

During the last decade of the 20th century in France they will still be hunting his saga in the Mediterranean coast expecting to locate the wreckage of his plane and may be his body . There was an eye witness of an aircraft crash into the sea 5 Km out of sea side of Carqueiranne on the day of 31/06/44 . Madame Boudet saw and heard it . Another independent report from the crew of a german flack-88 battery seemed nicely combined with the one of Mme Boudet :"A bimotor plane flying low in a strange way at a high speed flew over out battery heading for the sea , crashed at 15 Km from the coast and was broken in pieces ". There was not any other report for a downed aircraft on that day . Based on these reports , however , Jean Roux thought he could search for the aircraft into the sea using modern technology . In September 1992 he started with a sonar scanning of the depth near Monaco in the Bay of Angels but the results were discouraging . Jean Roux returned back to tell his story when he was then triggered by the narrative of a retired Admiral named Fauger . He said that in 1966 he remembers the navy have picked up from the sea bed an aviator's sac that contained personal papers , a chess-board - the beloved game of Exupéry - military maps and a Corsican paper of the 31/06/1944 ! At that moment there was not any correlation with the Exupery's aircraft but Roux decided to continue the search. He has some strong evidence of a body which later is identified as a sunken fishing boat . Further on however the divers discovered pieces of metal which they delivered them to the RAF Duxford Museum for a research . The decision was that those pieces may had come from a P-38 . Actually one piece is part of the front landing gear of a P-38 and the second an air duct of the left tail fork of its fuselage . The pieces must come from a P-38 but there is no other indication that it belonged to Exupéry .

Then people around were excited from those stories and soon the local mayor discovered that a dead body of an unidentified pilot was buried in the cemetery found in September 1944 . He immediately declared that this was the writer's grave but denied any biological examination of the skeleton which might have proven if it was the one of Exupéry . Then a fisherman ,Jean-Claude Bianco, said he found his bracelet in the sea outside Marseille , bearing the engraved name of his wife Consuelo. Then a German veteran fighter pilot named GŁnter Stedtfeld declared he had a dog fight with Exupéry who was then shot down near Saint Rafael . But the P-38 of Exupéry had no guns and this dog fight could not have happened . To avoid any further abuse of the writer's memory people decided to give up with this quest and let Exupéry and his saga stay in peace . Undeniably a P-38 that crashed at full speed in the sea should have been devastated , broken down into small pieces together with the pilot's body . 

Yet the quest would continue due to Luc Vanrell , a diver whose memory got a sudden kick from Bianco's revelation , as in 1988 he had seen some plane debris in the area indicated by the fisherman, far away from where the plane was supposed to be on the writer's hypothetical return from his mission following his flight plan. In the area about 7 Km SW of Marseille and some 3 Km SW of the sea area near the village of Cassis , Vanrell , in 2004 spotted the pieces of the engine of a P38 plane ( See the 'X' on the map to the right) and then its number confirmed this unique event : This was Exupéry's plane , undoubtedly ! The only hard question was about the difference between this position and his flight plan : Exupéry was supposed to follow the route Borgo (Sardinia) , Livorno, La Spezia, Genova, San Remo and then head S to Sardinia again. The landing to Anzio was about to begin and the reserve forces of the Germans along these lines had to be detected. This is why it was thought more reasonable to check for the wreckage in the area of the Genova Gulf and Monaco-Antibes . Trying to figure out what happened , the most probable reason seems to be a pilot's loss of senses or death (heart attack ?). 

 

The area west of Toulon where the search efforts were initially concentrated in 1998 . The plane was actually found at the limit of the north west edge of this square

The fisherman J.P. Bianco, initially thought to have 'invented' the story of the finding of Exupery's bracelet , he is the one to whose luck and persistence we know today where the writer's plane is

 

Rather well preserved , the engine of the P-38 was firstly discovered. The sea bed mud is hiding a number of smaller pieces around

 

 

There were no bullets or other traces of damage found on the fuselage. It all seemed to be the result of a direct high speed vertical dive onto the surface. But we all know how the P38 used  to behave in case the pilot falls unconscious with all his body against the control stick. If this happened on the point of return , somewhere over the Italian-French border , then the plane was probably left on a SW heading while turning from Genova to San Remo and continued its uncontrolled fall until ,naturally, outside the coast of Marseille. This scenario seems to be more reasonable by far.  

There is nothing else materialistic to be found deep into the mad of the sea bed . And yet ,  Exupéry is always there and alive for those searching for the meaning of life and the exaltation of the human spirit

 

 

 

 

Our Little Prince has not perish into the sea one day ;

he stayed with us 

He has his eyes raised to the skies where he belonged

whispering the big truth of our existence 

he had discovered on his eternal quest deep into our souls :

" The essential is invisible to the eyes , we can not truly see but with the eyes of the heart "

 


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