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French fighter pilots 1939-1945.

Marcel Albert

by Christian-Jacques Ehrengardt
Philippe Listemann
translation : Michel  Léveillard

What an extraordinary journey for this Parisian " wisecracking " kid, successively, a lathe operator for the Renault factory, hero of the Soviet Union, and consortium executive in the USA…

Born in Paris on the 25th of November 1917, Marcel Albert started his working life as a lowly apprentice for the Renault Company in Billancourt outside of Paris. Fascinated with aviation, he passed both basic pilot licenses thanks to a Government grant. In 1938, he entered the Istres flight school and obtained his military pilot license in July of that year. Promoted to Corporal, he was assigned a year later to the first fighter wing. 

When World War Two began, he was transferred to the CIC (fighter pilot school center) in Chartres as an Instructor. Insisting on being sent to the front, he finally got his wish in February of 1940, and he was assigned to the 2nd escadrille of fighter group I/3 based in Cannes, as the transition to Dewoitine D-520 was in progress.

It was with GC I/3 that Marcel Albert obtained his first two victories; one confirmed on Mai 14th, and one probable on the 20th. After a long period of inactivity due to the armistice, Albert planned on " deserting " the Air Force of the Armistice with two other comrades; Sergeants Durand and Lefèvre. On the 14th of October 1941, taking off from Oran Algeria for a routine patrol, the three pilots headed for Gibraltar, where from there, they would rally the free French in England. At the end of the RAF's mandatory transition in a training unit, Albert was assigned to the Group " Ile de France " in May of 1942 where he would fly 48 war missions. 

Volunteering for the Russian front, he arrived to the group " Normandie " on the 7th of October 1942. On the 16th of June 1943 he achieved his first success in Russia:
" With Préziosi, we had taken off to protect the small train station of Soukinovichi located near the front. All of a sudden, an interpreter came on the radio, announcing that an enemy reconnaissance airplane was taking photos of the train station. Looking in the direction of the station, I spotted a twin boom airplane, probably a Focke-Wulf 189. I rocked my wings to alert Préziosi, we had radio, but we seldom used it. The " Fritz " never saw us coming, and after we shot at him, he performed a reversed turn, coming very close to us. The airplane had lost the cone of its center cockpit; one of its engines was stopped and full of holes.
We followed him for a while and I could smell the odor of burnt varnish as we flew behind him. We abandoned him at an altitude of about 50 meters and Préziosi and I flew on home. Photos taken of the FW-189's airdrome by the Russians that very morning showed 12 airplanes on the field. In the evening, as they again took photos, there was one airplane less, and that fact confirmed our victory.

During the Orel battle, Albert would add five more victories to his core. Following the lost of Lieutenant Léon, he took command of the 1st escadrille on the 4th of September 1943. When the "
Normandie" moved to its winter quarters in Toula on the 6th of November 1943, Albert learned of his promotion to the rank of lieutenant.
During the offensive against Eastern Prussia in October of 1944, he scored 7 new victories; Stalin honored Albert by naming him " Hero of the Soviet Union " on November 28 1944.

Promoted to Captain, Marcel Albert left the regiment on the 12th of December 1944. He was one of the rare survivors of the first contingent, and one of only three pilots of the " 
Normandie Niemen " who became a " Commandeur de la Légion d'Honneur ".
He would again join his regiment for their triumphant return at Le Bourget airport in June of 1945. Named Inspector of the Fighter Arm in October of 1945, he became the Air attaché in Prague, then left the Air Force, immigrated to the United States where he got married and became President of a large consortium of companies.


GC I/3
14.05.40 (2) Do 17 Suippes [51]

Pilot officer / Second lieutenant
GC 3
16.06.43 (2) Fw 189 Brusna-Mekovaïa [USSR]
14.07.43 (1) Bf 110  Iagodnia [USSR] 
17.07.43 (1) Fw 190 Iagodnia [USSR] 
17.07.43 (2) Fw 190 Znamenskaïa [USSR] 
19.07.43 (5) Ju 88    Znamenskaïa [USSR] 
31.08.43 (1) Ju 87    Ielnia  [USSR] 
01.09.43 (2) Fw 190 Ielnia  [USSR] 
17.09.43 (1) Fw 190 Ielnia  [USSR] 
22.09.43 (1) Fw 190 Smolensk [USSR] 
04.10.43 (6) Hs 126 Krasno [USSR] 
12.10.43 (1) Fw 190 Gorki  [USSR] 

Flying officer / First lieutenant
15.10.43 (3) Ju 88     Gorki  [USSR] 
15.10.43 (2) Fw 190  Gorki  [USSR] 
15.10.43 (2) Fw 190  Gorki  [USSR] 
16.10.44 (5) Ju 87      Pillupönen [Eastern Pomerania]
16.10.44 (2) Ju 87      Pillupönen [E.P.]
16.10.44 (1) Fw 190   Stallupönen [E.P.]
18.10.44 (2) Hs 129   Stallupönen [E.P.]
18.10.44 (3) Hs 129   Stallupönen [E.P.]
23.10.44 (2) Bf 109    Stallupönen [E.P.]
26.10.44 (3) Bf 109    Walterkehmen [E.P.]

(X): total number of pilots participating to the destruction of the enemy airplane.

© Aéro Editions, Aérostories, 2001.

Marcel Albert (right), in Cannes beginning of May 1940, with second Lieutenants Boutarel and Irumberry de Salaberry, and Adjutant Cartier who was shot down and killed on the 14th of May.
Mrs. Méot-Carrier Collection     Click

In the cockpit of his Yak-9 (white "6") in Tula, at the end of 1943.

SHAA                       Click