Ancient history

Jean Accart


12 (+4 prob.)

Ace of the Second World War born in Fécamp (Seine-Maritime) on April 7, 1912 and died in La Gaude (Alpes-Maritimes) on August 19, 1992.

Jean Accart, Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor, holder of the Croix de Guerre with eleven citations, of the Aeronautics Medal, ended the Campaign in France (May 10-June 24, 1940) very seriously injured, in particular d 'a 7.92 mm MG 17 machine-gun bullet between the eyes, on June 1, as it once again attacked a German bomber in unfavorable conditions due to the peculiarities of its Curtiss H-75 fighter, an aircraft satisfactory on the whole:speed a little insufficient, too light armament of 6 small caliber machine guns (7.5 mm), all this forcing the pilots to risk their lives for a long time to attack under enemy machine gun fire (parachute jump; his life was narrowly saved). He had then obtained twelve sure and four probable victories. There is little doubt that, had it not been for this injury, Accart would have been well ahead of all Air Force and RAF fighter pilots in 1940, ahead of his friend, deputy and replacement Edmond Marin. -la-Meslée. He resumed combat (after crossing the Pyrenees clandestinely, which was difficult and dangerous, to go to Spain and then to North Africa) at the beginning of 1944, at the head of the II/2 "Berry" hunting group that he had created. in AFN ("345 Squadron" of the RAF) on "Spitfire" IX, unfortunately used for tactical bombing and ground attack, thankless and very dangerous tasks. This brilliant unit, with its outstanding leader, obtained only a few victories in aerial combat, Accart (alias "Commander Bernard") none... After the war, as a colonel, he commanded Air Base 112 in Reims from 1952 to 1955, later, general, the 1st CATac (tactical air corps), in Lahr (Germany), not far from Strasbourg, before occupying very important posts of staff then to resign (then general of air corps, "four stars") due to a disagreement with President Charles de Gaulle over the number of future French ground-to-ground rockets.

According to his friend Yves Michelet, historian of the 1940 Air Force, Accart was undoubtedly one of the best fighter pilots, and above all one of the best fighter unit leaders, in the world. entire during WWII. The squadron he commanded in 1939-40, the 1st squadron of GC I/5, was the one which obtained, by far, the most victories in air combat, out of approximately 53 squadrons having participated in the Campaign of France. Better employed by the Allied leaders in 1944-45, his new unit would certainly have saved many members of bomber crews, especially Americans, by shooting down some of the German fighters attacking them. Accart was also one of the very few men, especially among professional soldiers, to have said "No" to de Gaulle, face to face and looking him in the eye. He never agreed to go into politics. He was a unique man, of unequaled calm, modesty and kindness, of rare intelligence. His modesty, in particular, is truly proverbial. Those who knew him all seem to have the same feelings for him:great respect mixed with affection, great admiration, often even real veneration. According to Yves Michelet, all this is perfectly justified.

Notes:GC means "Fighter Group", totaling from 24 to 34 planes depending on the case and including 2 squadrons of 12 planes each. On May 10, 1940, GC I/5 had 32 Curtiss H-75 aircraft built in the USA and assembled in France (in Bourges), including, therefore, reserve aircraft. Many English-speaking authors believe that GC =Combat Group, which is a mistake.

On May 10, 1940, the first day (since September 1939) when Accart finally had the opportunity to open fire, he obtained four confirmed victories, then two the next day and three on May 18, not counting the "probable" victories. Most of his victims fell either on his own airfield at Suippes or nearby, under the eyes of hundreds, even thousands of men, or in territory occupied by French troops:impossible to dispute these victories.

The French campaign lasted from May 10 to June 24, 1940. The Battle of France was the second part, especially after the evacuation of Dunkirk (May 26-June 3), from June 5 to 24, and began with the German attack of June 5 on the Somme and the Aisne.

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