Searching For Ren Talk At The Wing Capel Le Ferne

Jan Leeming

Shoreham 2007

Shoreham Airshow 2007
Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.



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Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.

SEARCHING FOR RENÉ - Talk at The Wing - Capel le Ferne

Date: 12th February 2016

Marigold has taken over my life for the past week but I must mention the talk I'm giving on Saturday 20th at the Battle of Britain Memorial - Capel le Ferne.

It is only open to Friends of the Few and their guests but if there were enough demand, perhaps it could be opened up to a wider audience at a later date - the tickets are very inexpensive and money raised goes to maintaining the wonderful Memorial and the Wing,

René Mouchotte was a WW2 Free French Pilot.  The Free French were the ones who answered de Gaulle's 'Appel' and came to this country by all manner of means - declared Traitors by the Vichy Governnent and if discovered on French soil could have been executed as traitors.

René and companions 'stole' a plane from an airfield in North Africa (closed down by the Vichy government) and made their way to Gibraltar and then on to England.  René was the first Non-Commonwealth Officer to become a Squadron Leader, won the DFC and died in battle in 1943,

He wrote diaries which were published after his death and some years later republished in English.  I bought a copy and was transfixed and thus began my 'journey'.  On and Off I spent 6 years researching his story, left a letter in his tomb in Paris, met his sister, tried and tried to get a documentary made to no avail.  One Channel said he wasn't 'famous' enough - what is fame these days!!  But I didn't give up and  finally the local BBC SE accepted my film and  did make a short documentary which I researched, scripted and presented.  It is the crowning glory of a long career. And there is enough film on the cutting room floor to make a much longer documentary.  There's also a fascinating family story.  His great grandfather began the highly successful Duvelleroy Fan Company in 1835.  So successful was he that he was called The King of Fans.  René's mother sold the business and eventually in the 50's, when no one used fans much any more, M. Maignan wound up the business but retained the paraphernalia/equipment used to make fans.  In 2010 two young Parisian women bought the stock (including feathers etc) and resurrected Duvelleroy Fans.  They are gorgeous and very very expensive but the amount of work, which goes into a hand made fan, has to be seen to be believed.

It is the story of that 'journey' in seeking René which is the subject of my talk.

SEARCHING FOR RENÉ - Talk at The Wing - Capel le Ferne

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