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Old 28th March 2005, 19:26
Posts: n/a

Thanks Andy, I really appreciate.

Nevertheless Free-French airmen and those having taken part in the 1940 French Campaign are two entirely different subjects. Townsend wrote that the 1940 boys were not brave etc. contrary to the Free-French, which doesn't make any sense. As I mentioned, almost none (or none at all?) of the latter escaped to England, in any case 1940. Only 13-14 French fighter pilots took part in the Battle of Britain. Without the Mers el-Kébir aggression they would have been at least 200, possibly 500, some of them within their own, old French units which would have flown to Gibraltar as complete units led by their normal COs. Most of those who became Free-French had been too young to take part in the 1940 fighting. They, too, accepted very high risks and many lost their life. Of course I very much admire and respect all Free-French - and also the Norwegians, the Dutch, the Belgians, the Poles and all others at that.

François de Labouchère, a Free-French fighter pilot who was killed 1942 after having destroyed two Me 109s and two Do 217s alone, had left France and sailed to England in June 1940 without having been able to fight yet (he had been only a future pilot) and he wrote the following to his sister I think :

"The most difficult thing is not to do your duty but to distinguish it." So he was not so sure either. But of course he did the right thing : fighting a ruthless enemy never is wrong.