Among the strong personalities known in the French Air Force,
Gabriel Gauthier incontestably imposed his stature which was
out of the ordinary.
Born in Lyon in September 12th 1916, he entered the
Air Force Academy in Versailles in 1936. He was assigned to
fighter group GC (Groupe de Chasse) II/7 in October 1938 where
he remained for over six years.
Gabriel Gauthier was in combat since the first day of the war,
but on the 21st of December 1939, he was seriously
wounded. Half paralyzed, he managed to make an off field landing,
and from his hospital he continued to follow the outcome of
the French campaign. He successfully rejoined North Africa,
where GC II/7 had taken refuge. The sojourn in Tunisia, between
June 1940 and November 1942 was rather calm.
Then, things happened again with the Allied landing in November
1942. GC II/7 was the first group re-equipped with Spitfire
and he saw action in the last days of the Tunisian campaign
at the end of April 1943. On August 2nd 1943, Gabriel
Gauthier became Commandant of the 4th Escadrille.
On September 15th 1944, he was once again shot-down
and wounded, by Flak this time, between Montbéliard and Belfort.
Thanks to the resistance, he managed to breakaway and reached
Switzerland, from where he calmly continued his escape in December.
He rejoined his group, and took its command on February 24th
The hostilities had barely ended when Gabriel Gauthier was sent
to the United States to take a course at the famed Command
and Staff School. Returning
in the spring of 1946, he was summoned to General Bouscat's
high command. At the end of the year he was promoted to Major.
A few months later, he became second in command of the 6th
wing in Rabat, then in 1948 he became Commandant of the base
in Meknes. Two years later, he returned to France to take command
of the 2nd wing in Dijon.
He was the main driving force for the revival of the Patrouille
de France. In the mean
time, promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, he was sent to Indochina
for a short stay (May 1954) and in 1956, he became chief of
Promoted to Colonel in May of the same year, he took command
of the 3rd wing in Reims. With the 3rd
wing, he participated in the Suez "affair", from the chypriote
d'Akroti base. But, since this base was void of material and
everything else, Gabriel Gauthier decided to transfer the entire
necessary supplies that could be found in Reims. A journalist
learned of this story and qualified Gabriel Gauthier as « The
big mover of the century ».
He then divided his time between Reims and the cabinet of Mister
Chaban-Delmas. In 1958, he was summoned as the head of the 3rd
bureau and for the Air Force Academy in April 1960. After a
short passage in Algeria as « liquidator », he became
the personal high command chief for General De Gaulle who was
then President of the Republic. His rise in rank continued during
the following years, until reaching the highest post; that of
chief of high command of the French Air Force. He left active
service with the rank of General of the Air Arm in December
Flying officer / 1st Lieutenant
22.11.39 (4) Do 17 Hattstat 
21.12.39 (1) Bf 109 Sponeck [D]
Flying lieutenant / Captain
30.09.43 (1) Do 217 Cape Sette Nave
10.10.10 (2) Ju 88 Ajaccio 
30.10.43 (6) Ju 88 Ajaccio 
24.12.44 (1) Bf 109 Rottweil [D]
24.12.44 (3) Bf 109 Waldkirch [D]
27.02.45 (4) Bf 109 Horb [D]
14.04.45 (5) Bf 109 Erbach [D]
(X): total number of pilots participating to the destruction
of the enemy airplane.
[XX]: country or geographical French department.
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