Ren Mouchotte

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.

RENÉ MOUCHOTTE

Date: 3rd October 2012

I've never worked so hard and been so persistent over any project in my life as I have over my desire to have a documentary made about René Mouchotte.  And finally my doggedness, many prayers, and some luck and coincidences, have paid off.  BBC South East are going to make a short programme for their Opt Out slot - it won't be a full length documentary but I'm grateful for small mercies.  However, how the Producer will condense all the information, photos, film, etc. that I have accumulated over 5 years into a 12 minute slot, heaven alone knows.

I've just re-read the Diaries for the sixth time.  Have never read a book more than twice but each time I find more to this honourable man - more of his humour, his courage, honour and leadership skills.  His bosses at Biggin Hill - the famed 'Sailor' Malan and Al Deere sought his advice on Attack formations. He brooked no nonsense and would only have what he considered the best in his newly formed 'Alsaçe' squadron -  the safety of all is dependent on team work and he wouldn't have what he saw as 'weak' links.  He was often photographed with the Squadron's pet dog mascots and anyone who loves animals has to be OK in my book.  His men respected, trusted  and 'loved' him.  He was also kind and thoughtful.  An example of his generosity - he would put £1 in packets of cigarettes which he'd give to his aircrew - and £1 was a great deal back in the early 1940's.  (When I started work in 1959 my weekly pay was £6.10s)

The entries in his Diaries became fewer and fewer in 1943 as his admin duties became more arduous.  

There is a mystery as to why he died on August 27th 1943 - was it partly due to his wingman leaving his side, was he shot down or did he have a plane malfunction?  He disappeared on the 27th August some time after 7.00 pm and his body was washed up on the shores of Belgium six days later.  There were no wounds to the body which has left me wondering if his plane came down in the sea but he failed to be sighted and picked up.   So sad when there are several instances in his diaries of him flying over the area of a 'downed' man and getting help.  (In the Introduction to his Diaries a family friend André Dezarrois tells of how his mother had a nightmare of her son floundering in heavy seas and sadly that is how he met his end)

Anyway, at least part of this exceptional man's story will be told now for posterity and a little more icing on the cake has just come in.  I attended the Allied Forces Memorial Service at Elvington on 9th September and met a French journalist  Karim DJEMAI with Air Actualités.  He's just informed us that a French Air Force Training School has adopted the name of Commandant René Mouchotte and even had his portrait emblazoned on the tail fin of one of their training planes. (The Cambrai-Epinoy French Air Force base which bore his name was closed down as an active FAF station in 2010).  

I've been given permission to show you the photos. So there will be one here and the other three in my Gallery.  They are  copyright of the armée de l'air française  - the French Air Force.

 

RENÉ MOUCHOTTE

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