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James Norman Hall, the SPAD, and the Bounty

james norman hall

Ships of the sea and ships of the air

James Norman Hall is another example of heroes of WWI whose true stories are more exciting than fiction. Fiction has to be something people can identify with, and the only way most people would identify with Hall is in their dreams. Here's a partial list of things he did:

  • Tried writing as a career, while taking courses to improve his employability (many people do this, but at the local community college, not Harvard!)
  • Bicycled from London to Scotland to meet his favorite author but was afraid to knock on the door when he got there
  • Wasn't afraid of war in the trenches, however, and posed as a Canadian to get into the war (rather than to escape a draft!)
  • Survived the trenches, returned to the US (with an honorable discharge when they found out he wasn't Canadian)
  • Wrote a popular book about the war that motivated the US toward joining in
  • Got sent by his editor to write about the Lafayette Escadrille
  • Lost his journalistic objectivity to the point of joining the Lafayette Escadrille
  • Scored some victories
  • Got shot down and badly wounded
  • Became Eddie Rickenbacker's commander
  • Got shot down again and captured
  • Escaped
  • Started a comparatively boring post-war life by moving to Tahiti
  • Co-wrote the classic Mutiny on the Bounty
  • Through his son-in-law, WWII pilot Nicholas Rutgers, became the ancestor of generations of aviators

In other words, it wasn't only the Red Baron who was too big for Hollywood. Much more about Hall is available at the James Norman Hall Home museum in Tahiti "in the town of Arue, East of Papeete on the island of Tahiti, Km 5.5 mountain side before city hall", but if you're not free to visit Tahiti right now, the James Norman Hall website (available in both French and English) is very interesting.

Even if the Rutgers family weren't friends of the museum, the museum SPAD VAFM SPADwould probably have to be painted for James Norman Hall, as one of the most amazing lives represented in the museum.

Tell people about this great adventurer with one of our t-shirts showing James Norman Hall's SPAD against a background of a ghostly Bounty.



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