07 December 2023
A new €8.75 stamp from La Poste commemorates the life of René Mouchotte, the Second World War pilot who took part in 408 war missions and had 1,743 flight hours.
Born on 21 August 1914 in Saint-Mandé, in Val-de-Marne, he learned to fly when he was 18 and did his military service in the French Air Force, obtaining the rank of sergeant and his pilot’s licence.
In 1939, he was mobilised and assigned to training schools, despite his requests to join a fighter squadron. In May 1940, he was stationed in Oran, Algeria, and decided to go to England after the Armistice between France and Germany of 22 June. With five others, he first flew to Gibraltar aboard a twin-engine Caudron C.440 Goéland on 29 June and then went on to England by boat.
Sign up to the FREE All About Stamps newsletter
Keep up to date on the latest new stamps from around the world with our monthly 'New Stamps' email. Sign up now
On 13 July 1940, René Mouchotte signed his enlistment in the Royal Air Force. Once his training was completed, he first took part in surveillance operations in the Irish Sea. In October 1940, he was assigned to Squadron 615, the ‘Churchill Squadron’, with the rank of warrant officer and took part in the Battle of Britain.
In March 1941, he was a second lieutenant and took command of a section of six aircraft. After a first citation in July, he was appointed lieutenant and flight commander – the first Frenchman to command a British squadron. He obtained his first aerial victory on 26 August.
At the end of 1941, René Mouchotte was assigned to the ‘Ile-de-France’ fighter group and commanded the ‘Paris’ squadron as captain in February 1942.
On 14 July, the Croix de Guerre was presented to him by General de Gaulle. On 9 January 1943, recently promoted to commander, he received command of the ‘Alsace’ fighter group, winning two aerial victories on 15 May and 17 May. René Mouchotte was shot down on 27 August over the English Channel. His body was not found until September on a Belgian beach.
In total, René Mouchotte took part in 408 war missions and had 1,743 flight hours. Among his awards were Knight of the Legion of Honor, Companion of the Liberation, War Cross with six citations and British Distinguished Flying Cross.
The stamp has an image of René Mouchotte and a Spitfire Mk IX, 1941.