French "Normandie Niemen" ace Roland de la Poye has passed away
French "Normandie Niemen" ace Roland de la Poye passed away on 23 Ocober in St. Tropez aged 92 years old.
He had joined the Armée de l'air in 1939, achieved his 'wings', took part in the Battle of France and then made his way to the UK to join the Free French air force (FAFL : Forces aériennes françaises libres) under General De Gaulle's authority. He subsequently flew Spitfires with 602 Sqn based in Kenley (between March and July 1942) and was flying wing to 'Paddy' Finucane when the famous ace was shot down on 15 July 1942. De la Poype's memoir " L'épopée du Normandie-Niémen " opens with an account of that mission..
In November 1942, he was among the very first group of French pilots to arrive in the Soviet Union, at Ivanovo airfield, to fight alongside the Soviets against the Luftwaffe as related in a previous blog post
Roland de la Poype survived the war with 15 aerial victories and was made a 'hero of the Soviet Union'. He was the 3rd French ace after Pierre Clostermann - 33 official victories - and another French hero of the Soviet Union Marcel Albert - 24 victories). He left the Air Force in 1947 and became a successful entrepreneur in the plastics industry.
The following link is a thread on britmodeller.com that looks at possible candidates for the Spitfire V flown by De la Poype during this period..