Pierre Le Gloan

Pierre Le Gloan was one of those men who had a natural talent for flying. Having gained his wings in 1932 at the age of 19, by the outbreak of war he was an Adjutant-chef in the 5eme Escadrille of Groupe de Chasse III/6, Flying Morane-Saultier MS.406C-1 fighters from Chartres, as part of the air defence of Paris and the lower Seine.

On the 23 November 1939, le Gloan and another pilot successfully shot down a Dornier near Verdun on his first contact with the enemy. A second Dornier fell to his guns on the 2nd March 1940, and during the Battle of France he accounted for two Heinkel He 111s before his squadron was transferred to Luc in the South of France re-equipping with the superb Dewoitine D.520 to counter the impending Italian invasion.

On the 13 June 1940 Le Gloan shared two Fiat BR.20 bombers, and two days later when a large force of Italian bombers were reported in the area, he led the mission that was to make his name famous. Flying D.520 (`No.277`) the patrol soon encountered a force of bombers escorted by Fiat CR.42 fighters. With his usual aggressiveness, Le Gloan led the other French pilots into the attack. Within 45 minutes Le Gloan had shot down four CR.42 fighters (two shared) and a BR.20. A record of five kills in a single mission led to his immediate promotion to Sous Lieutenant.

After the fall of France GC III/6, as part of the Vichy air-force, was sent to Algiers, and from there to the Lebanon where Le Gloan continued to knock up his victories (but this time against France's former Ally-England). By 5th July 1941 Le Gloan's total had reached 18, including five RAF Hurricanes and a Gladiator. On the 9th September 1941, Le Gloan was promoted to Lieutenant when GC III/6 returned to North Africa. During the ‘Torch’ landings in November 1941 bad weather kept the D.520s on the ground until after the Vichy surrender.

The surviving Vichy pilots were transferred to the Free French and Le Gloan became the Commander of 3eme Escadrille ‘Rousillon’ on 11 August 1943 equipped with Bell P39N Airacobras engaged in coastal patrols. On such a patrol on the 11th September his wingman spotted that Le Gloan's aircraft was emitting black smoke. Soon the faulty engine failed completely, and Le Gloan attempted to glide to a belly landing on the water. Unfortunately his drop tank failed to release and as the aircraft touched down it exploded in a fireball from which the gallant ace had no hope of escape.

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