WORLD WAR I: 93RD AERO SQUADRON:"SCREAMING INDIAN" PANEL.
A painted "Screaming Indian" insignia of the 93rd Aero Squadron. [France: 1918.] A "Screaming Indian" insignia painted on aircraft linen, 800 x 1050mm. Some damage due to age, the image torn away from side cloth along one edge, a few repairs on verso to support weaker areas of the linen, and a clean crack at lower right corner. Original wooden stretcher.
Provenance: Acquired by Donald Morgan Walden (1893-1952) Second Lieutenant, 90th Aero Squadron, Fourth Observation Corps, in France in 1918; hence by descent.
AN HISTORIC AND RARE AMERICAN FLYING INSIGNIA, recovered by Donald Walden, an American flyer with the 90th Aero Squadron, as a memento. There have been around 3 of these "Screaming Indian" insignia at auction in the last 10 years, but this one is different from the panels taken off the Spad VII and XIII's that the unit flew. This image is painted on aircraft linen as an object to be hung. The Indian head, although identical in the structure of the image painted on the planes, is set in a French tricolor (blue, white, and red) outer roundel, and has also been given a distinctive 3-line red border, with the excess unpainted linen wrapped around its original wooden stretcher. This suggests that this insignia was especially mounted for display, and likely recovered from a mess hall at one of the aerodromes that the 93rd flew from. The addition of the French colors reflecting the two nationalities that were sharing the aerodrome.
The 93rd Aero squadron was founded in August 1917 in Missouri, men were recruited, and training given in Texas and Long Island, and after the long passage to England, they arrived at Camp Sorden, in October 1917. Training continued, and they did not get to France until June 1918, in July they were designated as part of the Third Pursuit Group (called the Lafayette Group) comprising 28th, 93rd, 103rd, and 213rd Aero Squadrons, and moved up to the front in the Toul Sector, near Verdun, to support the American push in the St Michel area. Initially the were on escort duties, but by November 1st, the 3rd Pursuit became a bombing squadron. In the short time they were on the Western front they flew 1,183 sorties, 151 combat missions, with 31 enemy aircraft shot down.
Donald Walden, the observer from the 90th Aero Squadron, who acquired the "Screaming Indian" panel, probably in a swap, had an interesting war as part of the American Observation Group. In the run up to the Battles of Mihiel and Argonne-Meuse, the preparatory aerial mapping and photography carried out by the 4th Observation Corps, was crucial to the successes of both battles.