In French aviation circles, there is no need to introduce Edmond
Marin La Meslée who was one of the finest fighter pilots in
1940, and considered the ace of ace of the May - June campaign.
It all began in the city of Valenciennes on February 5, 1912. To
please his family, he entered law school, but his real vocation
was elsewhere. Taking advantage of an aviation government
program, he learned to fly at the Morane flight school, and he
obtained his pilot license on August 11, 1931.
Curtiss H-75 A n° 217 Edmond Marin la
Meslée GC I/5 1st escadrille Suippes (France), May 10th
At the age of 19, he volunteered for two years and entered the
French Air Force school at Istres. After graduation, he was
assigned to the 2nd fighter regiment in Strasbourg
with the rank of Second Lieutenant. With his French Air Force
contract about to expire, Edmond re-enlisted for another two
years, but he had to do so with only the rank of Sergeant. No
one can say that he lacked motivation!
In October of 1937 he was admitted to the French Air Force
Academy and promoted to Second Lieutenant once again. He was
then assigned to GC 1/5 (Groupe de Chasse or Fighter Group)
Accart took him "under his wings" recognizing his
potential as a future "crack" fighter pilot.
The record of his personal achievements attained under the
difficult conditions of the French campaign needs no further
comments. On June 11, 1940, his chief was wounded in combat and
Edmond replaced him as the leader of the 1st
On June 25 1940, it was "curtain time" for the French Air Force.
The GC 1/5 evacuated to Saint-Denis-du-Sig, then on to Rabat
Morocco in August 1940. The group was relatively spared by the
combats between the Aviation of the Armistice and its old allied
the British until November 8, 1942. Edmond had passed through
the storm unscathed.
His group left for Tafaraoui in September 1943 and began to
receive American material. First some P-40s in December 1942,
then some P-39s in June 1943. Finally the group received P-47s
in October 1944.
Edmond was then promoted as Commandant of GC 1/5 Champagne
on January 9, 1944, patiently awaiting the hour of revenge. The
hour would come on September 30, 1944 when his group was
transferred to Salon-de-Provence to support the French and
Allied forces pursuing the Germans along the Rhône River. Pure
fighter sorties were no longer on the agenda for the 1/5; they
were now flying strafing missions and tactical air support.
On December 29, the group moved on to Dôle. On February 4, 1945,
Edmond Marin La Meslée took off as the leader of a
three-airplane patrol, with Captain Rouquette leading two other
airplanes to provide upper cover. The three P-47s then attacked
a temporary bridge near Neufbrisach. All went well, but after
his attack, Marin la Meslée spotted a truck column, and despite
an intense Flak, he proceeded to strafe the convoy. Returning to
verify the results of his attack, a 40 mm shell hit his airplane
behind the armour plate. Mortally hit, the P-47 (serial number
44-80384) crashed and exploded upon ground contact at
Rustenhart, a few kilometres from Neu-Brisach. Chief-Sergeant
Uhry was also hit by Flak and killed, his airplane crashing near
the one of his leader.
The Germans retrieved Marin La Meslée's body whom had sustained
a shrapnel wound in the brain. It is however doubtful that he
would have survived the crash. They took his body to the
Rustenhart cemetery, but they did not have time to organize his
funeral before the allied advance. This task would be left to
the local village Priest.
MARIN LA MESLEE Edmond † February 4th 1945
Flying officer / First lieutenant
11.01.40 (2) Do 17 Longwy 
12.05.40 (1) Ju 87 Bouillon [B]
12.05.40 (1) Ju 87 Pouru St-Rémy 
12.05.40 (1) Ju 87 Ste-Cécile [B]
13.05.40 (1) Bf 109 Stonne 
15.05.40 (7) Hs 126 Vendresse 
16.05.40 (9) Do 215 Rethel 
18.05.40 (3) He 111 Rethel 
18.05.40 (5) He 111 Ponsart 
18.05.40 (5) He 111 Laon 
19.05.40 (2) He 111 Hesse 
24.05.40 (1) Hs 126 St-Loup-Terrier 
25.05.40 (4) Hs 126 Boult-aux-Bois 
26.05.40 (9) He 111 Tannay 
03.06.40 (4) Hs 126 Sommauthe 
10.06.40 (5) Ju 88 Chatillon sur Bar