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Germaine Peyron-Montagnon (1895–1986)

Author of Cap sans retour

Includes the names: Germaine Peyron-Montagnon

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Germaine Montagnon was born in Tournon-sur-Rhône, France, and shared the passion of her father and brother for flying. She married Fernand L'Herbier and was known as Germaine L'Herbier-Montagnon. In 1936, she joined the aviation section of the Croix Rouge (French Red Cross), known as l'Amicale des infirmières pilotes et secouristes de l'Air (IPSA). At the start of World War II, she decided that a specialized service looking for the bodies of pilots being killed in the Battle of France was needed, and resolved to create one. She recruited and trained six volunteer nurses to join her and won accreditation by the Red Cross and the government to find and identify missing French aviators. She was arrested by the Gestapo in January 1941 and interned at the Cherche-Midi prison, but was released a few weeks later and resumed her mission. In addition, she organized an escape network for French and Allied pilots who were shot down and survived. She traveled more than 100,000 kilometers through France, Belgium and Holland, and managed to find and identify nearly 500 French airmen and 1,300 Allied airmen by the end of her mission in 1948. She described her work in Disparus dans le ciel: Souvenirs de la Mission de recherches des morts et disparus de l'Armée de l'air (Disappeared in the Skies), published in 1943, and in several other books. At the end of the war, she received numerous awards, including the Order of the British Empire, the Legion d'honneur, the Médaille de Vermeil de la Croix Rouge, and the Médaille de la Reconnaissance Française. She remained a vice-president of IPSA until her retirement in 1952. At that time, she returned to her hometown of Tournon and devoted herself to writing. She became Germaine Peyron-Montagnon following her remarriage in 1966 to André Peyron, a genealogist. She published numerous works on Tournon and local history.
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