About Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger de Saint-Exupéry
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (French pronunciation: [ɑ̃twan də sɛ̃tɛɡzypeˈʁi]) (29 June 1900 – 31 July 1944) was a French writer and aviator. He is best remembered for his novella The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince) and for his books about aviation adventures, including Night Flight and Wind, Sand and Stars.
He was a successful commercial pilot before World War II. He joined the Armée de l'Air (French Air Force) on the outbreak of war, flying reconnaissance missions until the armistice with Germany. Following a spell of writing in the United States, he joined the Free French Forces. He disappeared on a reconnaissance flight over the Mediterranean in July 1944.
Antoine Jean-Baptiste Marie Roger de Saint Exupéry was born in Lyon to an old family of provincial nobility, the third of five children of Marie de Fonscolombe and of Viscount Jean de Saint Exupéry, an insurance broker who died before his son's fourth birthday.
After failing his final exams at preparatory school, Saint-Exupéry entered the École des Beaux-Arts to study architecture. In 1921, he began his military service with the 2e Régiment de chasseurs à cheval (English: 2nd Regiment of Light Cavalry), and was sent to Strasbourg for training as a pilot. The following year, he obtained his license and was offered transfer to the air force. Bowing to the objections of the family of his fiancée—the future novelist Louise Lévêque de Vilmorin—he instead settled in Paris and took an office job. The couple ultimately broke off the engagement, however, and he worked at several jobs over the next few years without success.
By 1926, Saint-Exupéry was flying again. He became one of the pioneers of international postal flight, in the days when aircraft had few instruments. Later he complained that those who flew the more advanced aircraft had become more like accountants than pilots. He worked on the Aéropostale between Toulouse and Dakar, and became the airline stopover manager in Cape Juby airfield, in the Spanish zone of South Morocco, inside the Sahara desert. In 1929, Saint-Exupéry moved to Argentina, where he was appointed director of the Aeroposta Argentina airline. This period of his life is briefly explored in Wings of Courage, an IMAX film by French director Jean-Jacques Annaud.  Writing career
Saint-Exupéry's first novella, "L'Aviateur" ("The Aviator"), was published in the magazine Le Navire d'Argent. In 1929, he published his first book, Courrier Sud (Southern Mail); his career as aviator was also burgeoning, and that same year he flew the Casablanca/Dakar route. Historical marker on the home where Saint-Exupéry lived in Quebec.
In 1931, Vol de nuit (Night Flight) —the first of his major works and winner of the Prix Femina—was published and made his name. It covers his experiences with the Aéropostale. That same year, at Grasse, Saint-Exupéry married Consuelo Suncin (née Suncín Sandoval), a widowed Salvadoran writer and artist. It would be a stormy union, as Saint-Exupéry traveled frequently and indulged in numerous affairs, most notably with the Frenchwoman Hélène (Nelly) de Vogüé. De Vogüé became Saint-Exupéry's literary executrix after his death, and also wrote a Saint-Exupéry biography under the pseudonym Pierre Chevrier.
On 30 December 1935, at 14:45, after a flight of 19 hours and 38 minutes, Saint-Exupéry, en route to Saigon with his navigator, André Prévot, crashed in the Libyan Sahara desert. The plane was a Caudron C-630 Simoun n°7042 (Registration F-ANRY). The crash site may be the Wadi Natrun. The team was attempting to fly from Paris to Saigon faster than any previous aviators, for a prize of 150,000 francs. Both survived the crash landing, but were faced with the prospect of rapid dehydration in the Sahara. They had no idea of their location. According to his memoir, Wind, Sand and Stars, their sole supplies were grapes, two oranges, and a small ration of wine. What Saint-Exupéry himself told the press shortly after rescue was that the men only had a thermos of sweet coffee, chocolate, and a handful of crackers, enough to sustain them for one day. They experienced visual and auditory hallucinations; by the third day, they were so dehydrated that they ceased to sweat. Finally, on the fourth day, a Bedouin on a camel discovered them and saved their lives. Saint-Exupéry's fable The Little Prince, which begins with a pilot being marooned in the desert, is in part a reference to this experience.
American and Canadian sojourn and The Little Prince
Saint-Exupéry continued to write until the spring of 1943, when he left the United States with American troops bound for North Africa in World War II. During the war, he initially flew a Bloch MB.170 with the GR II/33 reconnaissance squadron of the Armée de l'Air. After France's 1940 armistice with Germany, he traveled to the United States. He resumed flying as a WWII reconnaissance pilot in 1943. The Saint-Exupérys lived in a penthouse apartment at 240 Central Park South in New York City, a townhouse at 35 Beekman Place, New York City, and a rented mansion (The Bevin House) in Asharoken on Long Island's north shore between January 1941 and April 1943. They also resided in Quebec City in Canada for a time in 1942. He wrote The Little Prince in New York City and in Asharoken in mid-to-late 1942; the manuscript was completed by October.
Following his nearly 25 months in North America, Saint-Exupéry returned to Europe to fly with the Free French Forces and fight with the Allies in a Mediterranean-based squadron. Then 43, he was older than most men assigned such duties; he also suffered pain, due to his many fractures. He was assigned with a number of other pilots to P-38 Lightnings, which an officer described as "war-weary, non-airworthy craft." After wrecking a P-38 through engine failure on his second mission, he was grounded for eight months, but was then reinstated to flight duty on the personal intervention of General Eisenhower. Charles de Gaulle implied publicly that Saint-Exupéry was supporting Germany; depressed at this, the pilot began to drink heavily.
Saint-Exupéry's final assignment was to collect intelligence on German troop movements in and around the Rhone Valley preceding the Allied invasion of southern France ("Operation Dragoon"). On the evening of 31 July 1944, he took off from an airbase on Corsica, and did not return. A woman reported having watched a plane crash around noon on 1 August near the Bay of Carqueiranne off Toulon. An unidentifiable body wearing French colors was found several days later east of the Frioul archipelago south of Marseille and buried in Carqueiranne in September.
Discovery at sea
In 1998, a fisherman named Jean-Claude Bianco found, east of Riou Island, south of Marseille, a silver identity bracelet (gourmette) bearing the names of Saint-Exupéry and of his wife Consuelo and his publishers, Reynal & Hitchcock, hooked to a piece of fabric, presumably from his flight suit.
In 2000, a diver named Luc Vanrell found a P-38 Lightning crashed in the seabed off the coast of Marseille, near where the bracelet was found. The remains of the aircraft were recovered in October 2003. On 7 April 2004, investigators from the French Underwater Archaeological Department confirmed that the plane was, indeed, Saint-Exupéry's F-5B reconnaissance variant. No marks or holes attributable to gunfire were found, however this was not considered significant as only a small portion of the aircraft was recovered. In June 2004, the fragments were given to the Museum of Air and Space in Le Bourget.
The location of the crash site and the bracelet are less than 80 km by sea from where the unidentified French soldier was found in Carqueiranne, and it remains plausible, but has not been confirmed, that the body was carried there by sea currents after the crash over the course of several days.
Speculations in March 2008
In March 2008, a former Luftwaffe pilot, 85-year-old Horst Rippert (the brother of the singer Ivan Rebroff), told La Provence, a Marseille newspaper, that he engaged and downed a P-38 Lightning on 31 July 1944 in the area where Saint-Exupéry's plane was found. Rippert, who was on a reconnaissance mission over the Mediterranean sea, said he saw and engaged a P-38 with a French emblem near Toulon. Rippert says the P-38 crashed into the sea.
After the war, Horst Rippert became a television journalist and led the ZDF sports department. He published a book discussing the alleged Saint-Exupéry shootdown. Rippert's story is unverifiable, and has met with criticism from some German and French investigators.
Contemporary archival sources, including intercepted Luftwaffe signals, strongly suggest that Saint-Exupéry was not shot down by a German aircraft. An American Lightning was shot down on 30 July by Feldwebel Guth of 3./Jagdgruppe 200, the unit in which Rippert was serving. Guth’s victory claim is recorded in the lists held by the German Bundesarchiv-Militärarchiv. The progress of the interception was followed by Allied radar and radio monitoring stations and documented in Missing Air Crew Report 7339 on the loss of Second Lieutenant Gene C. Meredith of the 23rd Photographic Squadron/5th Reconnaissance Group. The Mediterranean Allied Air Forces Signals Intelligence Report for 30 July records that "an Allied reconnaissance aircraft was claimed shot down at 1115 [GMT]".
By contrast, there is no claim on file from Rippert for a Lightning on 31 July and the RAF’s No. 276 Wing (Signals Intelligence) Operations Record Book notes only: "... three enemy fighter sections between 0758/0929 hours operating in reaction to Allied fighters over Cannes, Toulon and the area to the North. No contacts. Patrol activity north of Toulon reported between 1410/1425 hours".
- Saint-Exupéry is commemorated by a plaque in the Panthéon in Paris.
- Saint-Exupéry's portrait and his drawing of the Little Prince appeared on France's 50-franc note, before the introduction of the euro in 2002.
- In 2000, the Lyon Satolas Airport was renamed Lyon-Saint-Exupéry Airport in his honour.
- There is a monument for him in Tarfaya, Morocco.
- Asteroid 2578 Saint-Exupéry
- The Aguja Saint Exupery is a mountain spear ('aguja') located near the Cerro Chaltén in the Los Glaciares National Park in Patagonia, Argentina.
While not precisely autobiographical, much of Saint-Exupéry's work is inspired by his experiences as a pilot. One exception is The Little Prince, a poetic self-illustrated tale in which a pilot stranded in the desert meets a young prince from a tiny asteroid. The Little Prince is a philosophical story, including societal criticism and remarking on the strangeness of the adult world.
- L'Aviateur (1926)
- Courrier Sud (1929) (translated into English as Southern Mail)
- Vol de nuit (1931) (Night Flight)
- Terre des hommes (1939) (Wind, Sand and Stars) – Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française
- Pilote de guerre (1942) (Flight to Arras)
- Le Petit Prince (1943) (The Little Prince)
- Lettre à un otage (1944) (Letter to a Hostage)
- Citadelle (1948) (The Wisdom of the Sands), posthumous, ISBN 978-0-226-73372-2
- Lettres de jeunesse (1953), posthumous
- Carnets (1953), posthumous
- Lettres à sa mère (1955), posthumous
- Écrits de guerre (1982) (Wartime Writings 1939-1944), posthumous
- Manon, danseuse (2007), posthumous
- Lettres à l'inconnue (2008), posthumous
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's Timeline
June 29, 1900
Lyon, Rhône, France
April 22, 1931
July 31, 1944