Pierre Clostermann

----- Original Message -----

From: "Tom Cervo"
Newsgroups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.flight-sim
Sent: Friday, September 08, 2000 4:05 AM
Subject: Pierre Clostermann--OT

Known today as the author of one of the finest of all WW2 flying memoirs, "The Big Show", Pierre Clostermann has in recent years suffered various allegations concerning his conduct during and after the war. These seemed to arise after 1982, when some private statements of his concerning the Falklands war became public. These were repeated in a letter in Scale Aircraft Modelling: that he had turned his back on the RAF, that he had overclaimed his number of actual aerial victories and that he was now wearing a medal (the D.S.O.) to which he was not entitled. Clostermann responded thusly:

Dear Neil I was a little disgusted by Adam Holden's letter, which you published in SAM Vol 22/3 May 2000. On principle I never usually answer letters of this sort, but in view of my Tempest friends from No 3 Squadron, I feel I owe them an answer. First the Falklands War. . I never wrote to an Argentinean newspaper, but sent a letter to a group of Argentinean pilots who were pupils of my son, (then an Armée de l'Air Mirage pilot), at the Mirage Academy in Dijon. I knew them and they even came to my house when they were on leave. When I read the insults printed in the UK tabloid newspaper, the 'SUN', (greasers, tango dancers etc.), I wanted to tell these 'underdogs' that some people admired their courage. It is an admitted fact today by all - (including the US Air Force and the RAF) - that "the courage of your enemy honours you", and it should not be forgotten. Also, being an MP, with political responsibilities I am entitled to my opinions. They had nothing to do with my long-standing friendship and love for the RAF.

Secondly, I was never married to an 'Argentinean beauty'. I have been married for 53 years to a French girl.

As to my claims, they never changed. They were painted on my Tempest, (see accompanying photo), (The photograph that Pierre sent with his letter, with him in the cockpit of 'Le Grand CharIes'~, NV724, JF.E of 3 Sqn., circa July 1945, showing the twenty-three black crosses representing his accredited confirmed 'kills', and the nine white outline only crosses for 'probables' and 'ground kills'.) and are substantiated by the following citations and letters. My two DFC citations, by Air Marshal Slessor and AOC 83 Group Sir Harry Broadhurst, are enough for me.

"DFC 26/8/44 This officer has displayed outstanding courage and devotion to duty throughout his operational career in the course of which he has destroyed at least 11 enemy aircraft and damaged other military objectives". "Bar 28/5/45 since being awarded the DFC this officer has participated in 70 new operational missions during which he has destroyed a further 12 enemy aircraft. Throughout, Lieutenant Clostermann has displayed outstanding courage and ability, and has proved to be a source of inspiration to all". 23 black crosses and 23 confirmed by my DFC citations. I never personally asked for anything else.

There were I suppose two problems; ONE, I have been in so many Squadrons; Nos 341, 602, 486, 274, 56, and 3, that the forms 540 and 541 'Logs of Claims' were quite spread out. TWO, the French Air Force - as well as the US 8th Fighter Command, considered aircraft 'probables' and destroyed 'on the ground' as victories. This may explain some of the ridiculously inflated claims we found in the press, about me and many American pilots. Not my fault. I tried to rectify often, but to no avail! Finally, the statement about the the DSO. I am a Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur, which, as a French national, takes precedence over my DFC, and therefore is worn 'in front' of it. It is red with a blue tinge - as is the DSO.

Pierre Clostermann
Montesquiei des Albères

Back to English page