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208 pages - 1955 - Used, very good condition
In this amazing book, the author - a Free French bomber pilot in the R.A.F. - tells the story of the brave but little known body of men, and describes his service in North Africa...


Book cover finish Canvas finish, Bradel, Hardcover ( rounded spine binding )
Special features First edition, Damaged dust jacket, Handwritten notes
Condition Used, very good condition
Number of pages 208
Published date 1955
Language English
Size 15 x 23 x 3 cm
Author Colonel Jean Calmel D.F.C.




Seven years have passed since the end of the Second World War and there have been several accounts describing the life of the pilots and crew who were engaged in this tragic conflict. Only a few of them, admittedly outstanding, but in my opinion far too rare, have told of the exploits of the French Heavy Bomber Groups stationed in Great Britain. Jules Roy in exquisite academic French has analysed in detail the agony of the Halifax crews who faced the " Flak " of " Happy Valley "1. In his Bomb Aimer's post he tremble as we all did. Captain Germain, a stalwart Navigator, was rather more technical but perhaps less human in his Memoirs of an Incendiary.


I consider, however, that the feelings of the pilot, the Leader responsible for the crew, have never been sufficiently explained, and that is what, after some hesitation, I have now tried to do.


( ... ) In this tale I have tried, without literary embellishment, to raise a corner of the veil which has slowly descended upon the glorious past of the small French phalange - slender in effectives and great in courage - which joined the ranks of the British Bomber Command.


The morale and faith of those who died for France must remain engraved in the memories of their countrymen. Their example, which attained the highest peaks of human valour, once more bears witness to the qualities of our race, and from their example we must base our hopes for the future.


1 Return from Hell, by Jules Roy. Published by William Kimber.

Colonel Jean Calmel D.F.C.

Colonel Jean Calmel D.F.C. ( March 4th, 1913 - 1987 ) was born in Paris ( France ). 

In 1937, he enlisted in the Armée de l'Air ( French Air Force ), to be successively graduated Observer, then Pilot. Appointed bomber pilot, Jean Calmel is posted to the Groupe de Bombardement I / 11 ( I / 11 Bomber Group ). After the invasion by Nazi Germany armed forces, and their rapid advance, the G.B. I / 11 left French territory and withdrew to North Africa. On the evening of June 24th, 1940, while returning from bombing Palermo ( Sicily, Italy ), Jean Calmel hastened to reach the fallback airfield, located in Djedeida ( Tunisia ). When he got off his aircraft, he learned that the Armistice was signed. Reformed at Oran ( Algeria ), the G.B. I / 11 is reconstitued, its aircrews accumulating both flying hours and trainings, while playing with German and Italian Armistice Commissions as well. Subsequently Jean Calmel was given command of the 2ème Escadrille ( No. 2 Squadron ). 

In 1943, after the Tunisia Campaign and the defeat of German - Italian troops, the French Air Force is reformed. One day in Algier ( Algeria ), Jean Calmel embarked on the Dutch liner R.M.S. " Orbita " to Liverpool ( Merseyside, England ). After a fifteen - day journey, including a four - day call in Gibraltar, the ship docked on September 9th, 1943... in full fog ! Knowing that he is going to fly on heavy bomber, Jean Calmel was retrained in the R.A.F. Posted to No. 346 " Guyenne " Squadron ( made up of French crews and equipped with Handley Page Halifax bombers ), he took part to operations ( France, the Netherlands, Germany ), and was decorated with the D.F.C.  

After the war, he held several important posts : 

- Head of the Office of Air Staff Plans ( 1951 ).

- Chief of Staff of the Air Force in Morocco ( 1953 ). 

- Commanding Officer of Air Tactical Group ( 1960 ). 

- Deputy Chief of Air Centre Europe Staff ( 1961 ). 

- " Plans " Division Chief, S.H.A.P.E. ( 1962 ). 

- Commanding Officer of the 1st Air District at Dijon ( 1964 ). 

Jean Calmel ended his military career as Major General of the Air Force ( 1965 - 1967 ). 

Having taken his uniform off, he is appointed Director of External Relations of Sud - Aviation, en 1967. In March 1969, he is at his best on the first flight of the " Concorde ", at Toulouse ( Haute - Garonne, France ). As an Engineer from the École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures, he always has demonstrated his diplomacy, his cheerful temperament, his keen intelligence and his sense of responsability as well. 

( sources :,,,,,, Wikipedia )

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