Roland Garros Was Taken Prisoner
APRIL 18TH 1915
All over the world, Roland Garros is known with tennis tournament. But few people know the home of the French Open was named after a great aviator who excelled fighter combat during World War I.In 1913, he became the first person to fly across the Mediterranean. During World War I, he was a pioneer of air warfare, shooting down four enemy planes with the help of his own invention: wedge-shaped steel plates attached to the propeller blades, which allowed for a forward-firing machine gun. When World War I broke out, the skilled pianist signed up to fight. At the time, planes were equipped with very little weaponry, if any at all. Roland Garros’ inventing and trailblazing skills kicked in and he developed the first single-seater fighter plane equipped with an on-board machine gun that fired through the propeller. It was revolutionary. He returned to the front equipped with his new firing device. In early April 1915, sub lieutenant Garros notched up three consecutive victories in a fortnight, but was then hit by the German anti-aircraft defence over Belgium. Forced to land, he was taken prisoner on 18th April 1915 before he had chance to destroy his plane. His invention therefore fell into the hands of the enemy, who used his ideas to adapt their own aircraft.