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Bert Hall is not James Norman Hall, though both were Lafayette Escadrille pilots

bert hall james norman hall

Wikipedia has the wrong Hall pictured as James Norman Hall

We found this out when Ewan Tallentire designed an earlier SPAD shirt, and almost had it printed before Andy Parks mentioned that oh, by the way, that wasn't James Norman Hall's face. The picture is actually of Bert Hall, who also flew for the Lafayette Escadrille, but with a less distinguished career. Distinguished or not, Bert Hall had a more distinctive-looking face, and what with the importance of visual branding on the Internet, Bert Hall's face could end up permanently attached to James Norman Hall's name. Which raises the question, how much do we not know that we don't know about the past? (What did Alexander the Great really look like?)

So, to be clear: 
This is James Norman Hall.
This is Bert Hall, despite the label on it.
This is James Norman Hall later in life, looking more like Bert Hall what with the cigarette and the mustache, but still doesn't appear to have such a deep crease between the eyebrows.

This confusion illustrates one impressive aspect of the Vintage Aero Flying Museum - the fact that most of the collection is "named" - that is, the Parks family knows exactly who and where it came from. The museum is a standard against which unknown items can be measured. For instance, since the Internet has made it much more profitable and possible to make fake WWI memorabilia such as insignia, the VAFM collection has been useful to collectors figuring out what is genuine and what is not.

Another potentially confusing thing about Lafayette Escadrille names: there was a James Doolittle who flew in the squadron, but he wasn't "the" James Doolittle everyone knows now: Jimmy Doolittle as in the Doolittle Raid. The Doolittle of the Raid was already famous for his flying in WWI, and became even more famous flying unflyable aircraft like the Gee Bee between the wars. But back during WWI, when the Lafayette Escadrille Doolittle was killed, the Doolittle Raid Doolittle's wife was informed that her husband had died, on the assumption that there couldn't be two James Doolittles in the then-small world of aviation. Good assumption, but she knew better; she knew he wasn't overseas at the time.

Our current SPAD shirt - a great Christmas present if we say so ourselves - avoids confusion by having the Bounty rather than a face on it, because what people really recognize about James Norman Hall is his work on Mutiny on the Bounty.



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