First Free French Casualties Of World War Ii

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.


Date: 15th September 2013


The pilots whose Funerals René attended in Gibraltar were the first Free French Casualties of the war. They too had refused to accept the capitulation of their Government to the Nazis and, like René, they’d appropriated a plane and attempted to fly to and land in Gibraltar. Two other planes did land safely in Gib but the third was shot down by the Spanish and fell into the harbour.

Their bodies were recovered and given burial in the War Graves section of the North Cemetery.

On finding the area in which they were buried, I was surprised to see only three graves contained within a rectangle where there had obviously been a fourth grave. I checked my copy of René’s diaries just to make sure of the number of funerals – four. On returning home I did some research and solved the mystery. As I suspected, after the war just as with René’s remains, the body of Vicomte du Plessis was repatriated to France.

This is what I uncovered.

Capitaine Le Forestier de Vendeuvre Jacques (9 mars 1910 - 30 juin 1940).
Lieutenant Berger Jean-Pierre (22 février 1915 - 30 juin 1940).
Lieutenant du Plessis Bertrand (30 juin 1940). (also spelled du Plessix)
Sous-lieutenant Weill Robert (30 juin 1940)
They were buried on Monday, 1st July after a ceremony at The Church for the 3 Catholics and another at the Temple for Berger in the presence of the Governor of Gibraltar.
The ceremony was attended by British officers and also the French who had already made it safely to Gibraltar including René, of course

After the war the body of Bertrand Jochaud du Plessix was re-interred in the Cemetery of Saint Philbert de Grand Lieu in Loire-Atlantique.

Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu is a commune in the Loire-Atlantique department in western France.
Vicomte Bertrand Jochaud du Plessix, a Lieutenant in the Free French Forces reposes in the local cemetery. He was first buried at Gibraltar, having been shot down near there.
His daughter is the American writer Francine du Plessix Gray

The area in the War Graves section of the North Cemetery, Gibraltar. You can see the space for the missing grave.


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