Ren Mouchotte Gibraltar

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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Jan's Blog

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.


Date: 6th March 2013


Having had a debilitating cough and cold and also suffering from SAD, I was feeling decidedly down and then an email plopped into my box and suddenly my day was transformed.

Nearly two years ago whilst collecting information and photos for my René project I paid a visit to Biggin Hill, the Chapel and surrounding area. Whilst taking a photo of the sign for Mouchotte Close I was ‘accosted’ by a gentleman who asked what I was doing taking photos on MOD property. I had mistakenly believed that the whole of the Biggin estate was now private. When I explained about my research the gentleman very kindly, and much to the surprise of his wife, invited me in for a cup of tea and showed me the copy of René’s diaries which is passed around the ‘Patch’, read and signed by the various residents.

That gentleman moved on to Gibraltar but we kept in touch with regard to René and the final making of the programme. Any of you who’ve been following the story or who managed to see the programme broadcast on BBC SE region Inside Out in January and subsequently in a shortened form on BBC South and a slightly altered form on BBC North, will know that after René and his friends escaped from Oran in North Africa in a stolen Goéland, they made their way to Gibraltar where they were received with much affection by the local populace, before boarding the Houdouce and sailing to the UK to join the RAF.

Well, I’ve now heard that the RAF Gibraltar HQ building is to be renamed after René and I’ve been invited to attend. I am absolutely thrilled at the honour given to this brave and dedicated man.

The only puzzle to me in all this is that the French don’t seem in the least bit interested in celebrating one of the few French heroes of WW2. Ian Reed, Director of the Yorkshire Air Museum, has tried to generate interest with several French TV companies – I even had to write a half hour suggested script for one company – but nothing doing. This year marks the 70th Anniversary of his death. In Paris there’s a huge boulevard named after him and also a pedestrian bridge across the Seine. His tomb in the Pére Lachaise Cemetery is noted under the list of the famous. Apparently for many years after the publication of his Diaries, young boys in France were given his name. We have coach loads of French teenagers who visit the Battle of Britain Memorial and many have made a study of the man. He has Airfields named after him and most recently the French Air Force Training Base at Casaux received his name, but still the French show no interest. Is it a British thing – honouring the dead the way we do?

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