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Free French hero's story is told

A fascinating new book about Free French pilot René Mouchotte by former BBC presenter and newsreader Jan Leeming and distinguished military author Dilip Sarkar was launched at The Wing on Sunday (27 November).

The launch marked the last in this autumn's successful series of Sunday talks at The Wing, but supporters will be pleased to know that Trustee Andy Simpson is already working hard on recruiting more speakers for a spring 2023 season.

The book, Free French Spitfire Hero - the diaries of, and search for, Rene Mouchotte, centres on the republication of the full diaries of the pilot, who travelled to the UK via Gibraltar following the fall of France and went on to become one of ‘The Few’ in the Battle of Britain,

Mouchette and Squadron Leader E.F.J Charles claimed Biggin Hill’s 1000th victory on 15 May 1943, but he failed to return from a bomber escort sortie in August of that year.

The diaries, written between 1940 and 1943, give a fascinating insight into Mouchotte’s life and thoughts as he fought to free his country. In this new, extended publication, Dilip Sarkar sets the historical context of the time in which the diaries were written, while Jan Leeming writes about her journey to find Mouchotte’s relatives nearly 80 years after his death.

At the book launch, Jan gave illustrated talks on her nearly 15-year quest to contact the family which culminated in her meeting with Mouchotte’s sister, then aged 101, and other members of the family.

Amongst the guests at the launch were Hubert and Marie Dominique de L’Isle (Mouchotte’s Niece and Nephew in law) and Col Xavier Rival, the French Air Attaché in London, who also laid a wreath at the Memorial to commemorate René Mouchotte on behalf of the French Ambassador.

Copies of the book signed by both Jan Leeming and Dilip Sarkar were available and the Trust has further signed copies available. To obtain a copy please visit our shop on the website at or email for details.

Free French Spitfire Hero.

The Diaries of and search for René Mouchotte

Commandant René Mouchotte DFC, CdeG with Dilip Sarkar MBE, FRHistS & Jan Leeming

ISBN 978 1 39904 027 3

Published by Air World Books, an imprint of Pen & Sword Books Ltd.

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