Return of the Exiles

SPITFIRES IN ACTION

The crucial role played by the Free French Spitfire squadrons in the liberation of their homeland is revealed

THE BUSY SKIES ABOVE NORMANDY AS MUSTANGS OF 315 (POLISH) AND SPITFIRES OF 345 (FREE FRENCH) SQUADRONS (TOP RIGHT AND CENTRE, RESPECTIVELY) ESCORT TRANSPORT AIRCRAFT, GLIDERS AND TYPHOONS SUPPORTING BRITISH AIRBORNE OPERATIONS. THE SOUTH AFRICAN ACE GROUP CAPTAIN 'SAILOR' MALAN, CO 145 (FREE FRENCH) WING, FLIES TOP LEFT
 GARY EASON/FLIGHT ARTWORKS/ALAMY
 THE CROIX DE GUERRE WAS AWARDED TO MANY OF THE PILOTS OF 345 SQN 
GETTY
THE FREE FRENCH SPITFIRE SQUADRONS FOUGHT FIERCELY FOR THE LIBERATION OF THEIR COUNTRY 
GETTY

Among the Allied squadrons flying more than 7,500 tactical aircraft during D-Day landings in June 1944, five were manned by the Free French personnel. Those extraordinary times were remembered by one of the pilots, Lieutenant Félix Boyer de Bouillane, a graduate of l’École de l’Air. He said: “Having arrived in England after a voyage of some three weeks on the SS Strathmore, we thought we would be quickly put through a short and symbolic conversion onto Spitfires and integrated with the Royal Air Force.

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