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Three escapes (Cherbourg, Carteret, and Jersey), two crashes, wounds, a desertion, a flight of some 4 350 miles across Africa to fight again: André Courval’s war in the Free French Forces was a perpetual adventure. Telling the story himself, the six years of war in his Memoirs constitute a rare eye-witness account by an NCO of the Free French Forces who served in one of the less well known arms: the bombers. Preceded by a section relating his apprenticeship and military service, the occupation, his flight via Jersey, his arrival in England and his joining the Free French Air Force, are particularly well documented. André Courval’s war in Saharan Africa was linked to the Leclerc’s epic (Koufra, Fezzan, Libya, etc.). The two men met on several occasions.
Present as early as September 1940 at Odiham, André Courval, nom de guerre Saillard, was a pioneer of the GRB1 of the Bretagne group on Blenheims and then Marauders. His war in Africa, in Chad, in Tunisia, in Syria was that of the unknown heroes whose daily exploits he recounts and which were so useful for Free France’s renaissance. It came before the re-conquest of the homeland prepared in Algeria, leaving from Italy and finishing from Provence to Alsace.
Embellished by the author’s drawings illustrating his epic and his photos and documents, this is a richly annotated critical edition. It is presented, commented and compared to those of the other two volunteers from Carteret who with him knew the risk of fleeing from Occupied France and won the honour of fighting for its liberation at the price of blood. It has been prepared by Christian Kermoal, a Ph.D. in history, a researcher associated with the Tempora Laboratory of the University of Rennes 2. It is a tribute to all these free men who became soldiers.
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