Forgotten Maryland World War I Hero Honored at the Baltimore War Memorial
Monday Nov 21st, 2016
Members of the Western Front Association, East Coast Branch (USA), were joined by diplomatic representatives of Great Britain, Belgium, and France, along with descendants and invited guests to witness the unveiling and dedication of the specially commissioned painting “Maryland Over Flanders” at the Baltimore War Memorial on Thursday, November 17th.
The painting “Maryland Over Flanders” honors the service f the decorated World War I fighter pilot Francis Warrington Gillet who flew with Britain’s Royal Air Force over France and Flanders in 1918. Gillet was born in Baltimore in 1895, he volunteered for Britain’s Royal Flying Corps and received his pilot’s wings in December 1917. He flew in combat over France and Flanders with No. 79 Squadron, RFC (later RAF) from March 1918 until the war’s end. By the time of the Armistice on November 11, he was officially credited with downing 20 German aircraft.
Marylander Francis Warrington Gillet is recognized today as the second highest-scoring American fighter “ace” of World War I, next to Captain Eddie Rickenbacker and was awarded the British Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), and the Belgian Croix de Guerre.
The Western Front Association East Coast Branch (USA) commissioned the noted aviation artist Michael O’Neal to create a commemorative oil painting of Gillet’s Sopwith Dolphin fighter plane for display at the Baltimore War Memorial Building.