Edmond Marin La Meslee





Edmond Marin La Meslee in the cockpit of his six gun Hawk

Perhaps one of the best known French Aces, Meslee was born in Valenciennes on the 5th of February 1912. After gaining his wings he was posted as a Sous Lt to GC I/5, flying Hawks. La Meslee scored his first victory on the 11th of January 1940 a DO 17P. Victories followed swiftly on the 12th of May 1940, La Meslee's unit caught some 20 plus JU 87s dive bombing French infantry in the Ardennes, the Stukas were without fighter cover, so it turned into a 'turkey' shoot for the French. La Meslee claimed four for himself. May would be one continuous sortie after another as the French tried in vain to halt the invasion. La Meslee would claim another eight Luftwaffe planes this month. Always outnumbered La Meslee would always return with his Hawk full of holes.



By the 25th of June La Meslee had 16 confirmed and four probables to his name. For the next two years La Meslee waited for his opportunity to rejoin the fight, now  equipped with P-39 Airacobras patrolling and carrying out escort duties on costal patrols. At last in the winter months of 1944-45 La Meslee could at last take part in liberating his homeland. Now flying P-47 Thunderbolts. In an attack on a German convoy La Meslee was hit by a 40 mm shell and crashed. Pulled from the wreckage of  his P-47, La Meslee had received a fatal shrapnel wound to his head. A gigantic stone star in the style of the French fighter pilots badge marks the place where he fell.

The Hawk was a very strong aircraft, and could take a lot of punishment, many Hawks survived combat and ended their days in training units.