Among the strong personalities known in the French Air Force,
Gabriel Gauthier incontestably imposed his stature which was out
of the ordinary.
Born in Lyon in September 12th 1916, he entered the Air
Force Academy in Versailles in 1936. He was assigned to fighter
group GC (Groupe de Chasse) II/7 in October 1938 where he remained
for over six years.
Gabriel Gauthier was in combat since the first day of the war, but
on the 21st of December 1939, he was seriously wounded.
Half paralyzed, he managed to make an off field landing, and from
his hospital he continued to follow the outcome of the French
campaign. He successfully rejoined North Africa, where GC II/7 had
taken refuge. The sojourn in Tunisia, between June 1940 and
November 1942 was rather calm.
Then, things happened again with the Allied landing in November
1942. GC II/7 was the first group re-equipped with Spitfire and he
saw action in the last days of the Tunisian campaign at the end of
April 1943. On August 2nd 1943, Gabriel Gauthier became
Commandant of the 4th Escadrille.
On September 15th 1944, he was once again shot-down and
wounded, by Flak this time, between Montbéliard and Belfort.
Thanks to the resistance, he managed to breakaway and reached
Switzerland, from where he calmly continued his escape in
December. He rejoined his group, and took its command on February
The hostilities had barely ended when Gabriel Gauthier was sent to
the United States to take a course at the famed Command and
Staff School. Returning in the spring of 1946, he was summoned
to General Bouscat's high command. At the end of the year he was
promoted to Major.
A few months later, he became second in command of the 6th
wing in Rabat, then in 1948 he became Commandant of the base in
Meknes. Two years later, he returned to France to take command of
the 2nd wing in Dijon.
He was the main driving force for the revival of the Patrouille
de France. In the mean time, promoted to Lieutenant Colonel,
he was sent to Indochina for a short stay (May 1954) and in 1956,
he became chief of aerial defence.
Promoted to Colonel in May of the same year, he took command of
the 3rd wing in Reims. With the 3rd wing, he
participated in the Suez "affair", from the chypriote d'Akroti
base. But, since this base was void of material and everything
else, Gabriel Gauthier decided to transfer the entire necessary
supplies that could be found in Reims. A journalist learned of
this story and qualified Gabriel Gauthier as « The big mover of
the century ».
He then divided his time between Reims and the cabinet of Mister
Chaban-Delmas. In 1958, he was summoned as the head of the 3rd
bureau and for the Air Force Academy in April 1960. After a short
passage in Algeria as « liquidator », he became the personal high
command chief for General De Gaulle who was then President of the
Republic. His rise in rank continued during the following years,
until reaching the highest post; that of chief of high command of
the French Air Force. He left active service with the rank of
General of the Air Arm in December 1972
Flying officer / 1st Lieutenant
22.11.39 (4) Do 17 Hattstat 
21.12.39 (1) Bf 109 Sponeck [D]
Flying lieutenant / Captain
30.09.43 (1) Do 217 Cape Sette Nave
10.10.10 (2) Ju 88 Ajaccio 
30.10.43 (6) Ju 88 Ajaccio 
24.12.44 (1) Bf 109 Rottweil [D]
24.12.44 (3) Bf 109 Waldkirch [D]
27.02.45 (4) Bf 109 Horb [D]
14.04.45 (5) Bf 109 Erbach [D]