Normandie-Niemen, 15 destins de pilotes

NORMANDIE-NIEMEN, Fifteen pilots’ destinies

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They came from all parts of France and from all horizons; some of them even came from our shattered colonial empire. They didn’t have the same culture, neither did they have the same convictions. Corporals, NCOs and officers, they were of all ranks, but all of them without exception were volunteers. They weren’t all destined to become friends but they became friends even if they didn’t all follow the same path; but they all had the same goal – re-establishing the past splendour of the motherland with honour. Today, they have all left us but they never failed in their immense task, that of restoring the prestige of the French air force, to repair its broken wings so that, through them, they could restore to France the position that was hers before that fateful year 1940 when they were unfairly considered responsible for her defeat. The Russians supplied them with remarkable tools with which they fashioned the jewel that was their unit, the fighter group Normandie-Niemen, which became the Normandie-Niemen Regiment at the request of the Soviets. A lot of books have already been written about their exploits, but again and again they still deserve to be remembered and held as an example for future generations to explain how France, a vanquished, scorned and martyred country was able, thanks to a handful of men – 96 to be exact – in four years to sit down again at the table with the great nations by showing to the world how France fought on all the fronts. It was enough for the enthusiasm of a handful of men in combat to convince and force the admiration for certain people – here Stalin. In these pages the portraits of fifteen of them are given together with a description abundantly illustrated by colour profiles of their mounts, the Yakovlev fighters, chosen no doubt because their engine was a development of the French Hispano-Suiza 12Y engine.
The author, a former chairman of the Caen Aero-club, himself the organiser of remembrance meetings, knew General Risso very well. He was the manager of the National Meetings in the 1970s then later when he’d come to Normandy from time to time for commemorations. He designed several little scenes for the Andelys museum and was invited on 20 June 1999 to the ceremony followed by a banquet in which General Risso, in the company of Commandant Lorillon, declared that, because of the lack of adherents, he was obliged to put an end to the association of the Anciens du Normandie-Niemen 39-45. He declared that from then on their epic belonged to history. General Risso left us on 24 November 2005 and Commandant Lorillon on 17 February 2013. There remained then two survivors of the Normandie-Niemen pilots of WWII: Jean Sauvage and Gael Taburet. Jean Sauvage passed away on 22 August 2014 and Gael Taburet on 10 February 2017. On that day, with his passing away, a page of the glory of the French Air Force had been turned forever.
Those 96 heroes belong now to history
François Robinard has collected the memoirs of five of them, saved by history, mainly those of General Risso. They are the basis of this book.


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21 x 29x7 cm
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François Robinard

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