aviation circles, there is no need to introduce Edmond Marin La
Meslée who was one of the finest fighter pilots in 1940, and considered
the ace of ace of the May - June campaign.
It all began in the city of Valenciennes on February 5, 1912.
To please his family, he entered law school, but his real vocation
was elsewhere. Taking advantage of an aviation government program,
he learned to fly at the Morane flight school, and he obtained
his pilot license on August 11, 1931.
At the age of 19, he volunteered for two years and entered the
French Air Force school at Istres. After graduation, he was assigned
to the 2nd fighter regiment in Strasbourg with the
rank of Second Lieutenant. With his French Air Force contract
about to expire, Edmond re-enlisted for another two years, but
he had to do so with only the rank of Sergeant. No one can say
that he lacked motivation!
In October of 1937 he was admitted to the French Air Force Academy
and promoted to Second Lieutenant once again. He was then assigned
to GC 1/5 (Groupe de Chasse or Fighter Group) where Captain Accart
took him "under his wings" recognizing his potential as a future
"crack" fighter pilot.
The record of his personal achievements attained under the difficult
conditions of the French campaign needs no futher comments. On
June 11, 1940, his chief was wounded in combat and Edmond replaced
him as the leader of the 1st Escadrille.
On June 25 1940, it was "curtain time" for the French Air Force.
The GC 1/5 evacuated to Saint-Denis-du-Sig, then on to Rabat Morocco
in August 1940. The group was relatively spared by the combats
between the Aviation of the Armistice and its old allied the British
until November 8, 1942. Edmond had passed through the storm unscathed.
His group left for Tafaraoui in September 1943 and began to receive
American material. First some P-40s in December 1942, then some
P-39s in June 1943. Finally the group received P-47s in October
Edmond was then promoted as Commandant of GC 1/5 Champagne
on January 9, 1944, patiently awaiting the hour of revenge. The
hour would come on September 30, 1944 when his group was transferred
to Salon-de-Provence to support the French and Allied forces pursuing
the Germans along the Rhône River. Pure fighter sorties were no
longer on the agenda for the 1/5; they were now flying strafing
missions and tactical air support.
On December 29, the group moved on to Dôle. On February 4, 1945,
Edmond Marin La Meslée took off as the leader of a three-airplane
patrol, with Captain Rouquette leading two other airplanes to
provide upper cover. The three P-47s then attacked a temporary
bridge near Neufbrisach. All went well, but after his attack,
Marin la Meslée spotted a truck column, and despite an intense
Flak, he proceeded to strafe the convoy. Returning to verify the
results of his attack, a 40 mm shell hit his airplane behind the
armor plate. Mortally hit, the P-47 (serial number 44-80384) crashed
and exploded upon ground contact at Rustenhart, a few kilometers
from Neu-Brisach. Chief-Sergeant Uhry was also hit by Flak and
killed, his airplane crashing near the one of his leader.
The Germans retrieved Marin La Meslée's body whom had sustained
a shrapnel wound in the brain. It is however doubtful that he
would have survived the crash. They took his body to the Rustenhart
cemetery, but they did not have time to organize his funeral before
the allied advance. This task would be left to the local village
MARIN LA MESLEE Edmond † February 4th 1945
Flying officer / First lieutenant
11.01.40 (2) Do 17 Longwy 
12.05.40 (1) Ju 87 Bouillon [B]
12.05.40 (1) Ju 87 Pouru St-Rémy 
12.05.40 (1) Ju 87 Ste-Cécile [B]
13.05.40 (1) Bf 109 Stonne 
15.05.40 (7) Hs 126 Vendresse 
16.05.40 (9) Do 215 Rethel 
18.05.40 (3) He 111 Rethel 
18.05.40 (5) He 111 Ponsart 
18.05.40 (5) He 111 Laon 
19.05.40 (2) He 111 Hesse 
24.05.40 (1) Hs 126 St-Loup-Terrier 
25.05.40 (4) Hs 126 Boult-aux-Bois 
26.05.40 (9) He 111 Tannay 
03.06.40 (4) Hs 126 Sommauthe 
10.06.40 (5) Ju 88 Chatillon sur Bar 
(X): total number of pilots participating to the destruction of
the enemy airplane.
[XX]: country or geographical French department.
Editions, Aérostories, 2001.