Delayed Regret

March 21st, 2008at 10:40pm Posted by Eli

What a strange, sad story:

A 64-year-old French and German mystery now has a sprinkling of Greek tragedy: An ace Nazi World War II pilot learned that one of his 28 kills was also his favorite writer.

Horst Rippert, now 88, says he only just found out that the P-38 he says he shot down on July 31, 1944, over the Mediterranean was piloted by Antoine de Saint Exupery, best known as the author of the classic “The Little Prince.”

“If I had known it was Saint Exupery, I would never have shot him down,” Rippert told the Daily Mail. “I loved his books. He was probably my favorite author at the time.

“I am shocked and sorry. Who knows what other great books he would have gone on to write?”

(…)

The opening scenes of “The Little Prince” were drawn from his experiences after he crashed a plane in the Sahara desert and wandered lost for three days before a Bedouin on a camel spotted and rescued him.

But after three years in New York and on Long Island he returned to France to fly for the Free French. On July 31, 1944, he took off in the P-38, a B-list plane, to do reconnaissance for the upcoming Allied invasion.

He was never seen again, though it was always suspected that the unidentifiable body of a French flyer, recovered several days later, could have been Saint Exupery.

In 1998, a French fisherman found jewelry identified as Saint Exupery’s and in 2000 a P-38 wreck was located on the Mediterranean floor. Three years later it was brought up and identified as the one he was flying six decades earlier.

I can’t really add anything to that…

Entry Filed under: Books,War,Weirdness


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