French Art Deco illustrator Edouard Touraine, also known as André Bonnafont, was an established artist producing work for L’Illustration, Le Monde and La Vie Parisienne before his life was tragically cut short.
A Maréchal des Logis (a sub-officer rank of the French Armed Forces), in the 12e de Dragons, he piloted aircraft in World War I. When WW1 broke out, the aeroplane was still in its infancy and had been around for less than a decade. World War I was to see a rapid development in aeroplane speed, agility and air to air combat techniques.
Planes were initially used as reconnaissance vehicles, scouting behind enemy lines and communicating back. But a rapid arms race soon saw planes being used to drop bombs, supplies and for dog fights. Primitive and flimsy by today’s standards, early WW1 planes had thin canvas walls, which offered little protection against enemy attack. Planes were slow and not very agile, the life expectancy of pilots was short.
WWI Pilot Killed in action
On 24th October 1916, the day of the recapture of Douaumont, Edouard Touraine was seriously wounded in aerial combat over enemy lines. Despite the haemorrhage caused by the bullet that had pierced his lung, he showed admirable courage to return to base. He was then transported by ambulance to Châteu of Monthairon, where he died the next day October 25, 1916.
Edouard Touraine was cited as a pilot with a high sense of duty, operating in a difficult sector, conducting all the combat search missions entrusted to him with awareness and devotion above all praise. He lived a short life but eventful life, fighting for his country like many other allied artists at the time.