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French fighter pilots 1939-1945.

Roland de La Poype

by Christian-Jacques Ehrengardt
Philippe Listemann
Pierre-André Tilley

Translation: Mike Léveillard

Roland de La Poype can take great pride in having changed our universe. His journey was typical of the majority of the Free French Aviators. After the war, few of them would continue their career in the French Air Force. Returning to civilian life, they would apply their enterprising spirit of the war years, and many of them would find a new career as successful, and as brilliant as their military career.

Roland de La Poype was born in the Puy-de-Dôme region of France on July 28, 1920. In August 1939 he enlisted in the French Air Force as a student pilot and obtained his pilot license in March 1940. As the storm of war hit France, he was at the fighter pilot school at Etampes. With his comrades of his graduating class, they followed Commandant Lionel de Marmier to Saint-Jean de Luz where they embarked for England along with Polish Aviators.

Joining the FAFL (Forces Aériennes Françaises Libres, or Free French Air Force), he was stationed in French Equatorial Africa from July 1940 to January 1941. Proceeding to England with the rank of Sergeant, he was integrated into Squadron 602, where he would get his baptism of fire. His promotion in rank rose rapidly, becoming a
Flight - Lieutenant in the RAF in August 1942 (his French rank however never changed).

Then, he signed up and volunteered to serve with other French pilots on the Russian front, arriving at Ivanovo on November 28 1942 with the first element of GC 3
Normandie. He stayed there for two years, during which time his record of accomplishments earned him the rank of Warrant Officer and then the rank of Captain, receiving the highest order of decorations, including Hero of the Soviet Union.

After the war, he stayed a while longer with the "Neu-Neu" (A French expression describing the group Normandie Niemen), and after that, he became the Air attaché in Belgium, and hence in Yugoslavia. In 1947 the first part of his "living a full life" had come to a successful conclusion. The opportunity for the second part of his life came at the age of 27, and it would be no less successful than the first.

A visionary and genius inventor, Roland de la Poype understood that the future was in the use of plastic and disposable containers. In May 1947 he built a factory and began manufacturing a product that would revolutionize the life of the French people: a small plastic shampoo container with just the right amount for one usage. It was called "The berlingot Dop"! He had started a powerful industry of plastic wrapping for all of life's domains, from alimentary products to leisure items.

In 1985 he took a well-deserved retirement.

Roland de La Poype

Flight Lieutnant
N° 602 Squadron
22.08.42 (1) Bf 109 Gravelines [62]

Warrant Officer

Victory list:

31.08.43 (1) Ju 87 Ielnia [USSR]
01.09.43 (2) Fw 190 Ielnia [USSR]
04.09.43 (1) Fw 190 Ielnia [USSR]
19.09.43 (3) Ju 87 Ielnia [USSR]
22.09.43 (1) Ju 87 Smolensk [USSR]
01.10.43 (6) Hs 126 Krasno [USSR]
13.10.43 (2) Fw 190 Gorki [URSS]
14.10.44 (1) Bf 109 Ragnit [Eastern Pomerania]
16.10.44 (5) Ju 87 Pillupönen [E-P]
16.10.44 (1) Ju 87 Pillupönen [E-P]
16.10.44 (2) Fw 190 Stallupönen [E-P]
16.10.44 (2) Fw 190 Stallupönen [E-P]
18.10.44 (2) Hs 129 Stallupönen [E-P]
23.10.44 (1) Fw 190 Gumbinnen [E-P]
26.10.44 (3) Bf 109 Walterkehnen [E-P]

(X): total number of pilots participating to the destruction of the enemy airplane.
[XX]: geographical French department or country.

Neu-Neu = NN= Normandie-Niemen

© Aéro Editions, Aérostories, 2001.

Roland de La Poype
ECPA               Click

Yakovlev Yak-3
Pilot officer Roland de La Poype
GC 3 Normandie Niemen
Heiligenbeil (Eastern Pomerania), May 8th 1945.

Infographie : Pierre-André Tilley, © Aéro-Editions

In the foreground, Roland de la Poype's Yak-3 "24". As with many pilots, superstition led de La Poype to conserve his "good luck" number for the duration of his career with the Normandie-Niemen. Friedland March 1945.

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