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Post: Aviation Squadron “Normandie-Niemen”


“Normandy-Neman” (Normandy NimenIt is the name of a French separate fighter unit that fought against Nazi Germany on the Soviet-German front in 1943-1945 during World War II (1939-1945).

During the first period of the war, most of France was occupied by German troops, after the capitulation and the signing of an armistice with Germany by his government in June 1940. southern part of the country left Under the pro-fascist government of Marshal Henri Pétain (Vichy government). However, not all French bowed to their country’s defeat. In the summer of 1940, French General Charles de Gaulle, who did not accept an armistice in London (England), founded the Free France organization, whose purpose was renamed Fighting France in 1942. ongoing struggle with the anti-Hitler coalition.

After fascist Germany attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941, the Free French leadership, led by de Gaulle, initiated the establishment of formal diplomatic relations with the USSR. in September 1941. In the autumn of the same year, General Charles de Gaulle for the first time received an offer from his subordinates to send the French army to fight in the Red Army. Directly for the first time in November of the same year proposed to the Soviet government Participation of French units in battles on the Soviet-German front.

in March 1942 The French National Committee governing “Free France” turned to the government of the Soviet Union with a proposal to send a group of pilots and aircraft mechanics to the Soviet-German front. On March 31, this was allowed. From one of the best pilots of the 1st Fighter Air Group of the “Free French” Air Force (Air Force), then at the Rayak airbase in Syria (now Lebanese territory), on September 1, 1942 air group 3 was formed, soon converted to fleetrenamed “Normandy” (the name of the French province most affected by the German occupation) at the request of the staff. Emblem The group chose the coat of arms of Normandy – two lions on the red background of the shield.

On November 25, 1942, an agreement was signed on the participation of units of the French Air Force in military operations on the territory of the Soviet Union. Via Baghdad (Iraq), the personnel of the Normandy squadron were transferred to Tehran (Iran), where they flew to the USSR on four transport planes. At the end of November 1942, French volunteers (14 pilots and 58 aircraft technicians) arrived in the USSR. The formation of the fleet took place at the airport of the city of Ivanovo. It included 17 Soviet aircraft mechanics. Soviet government privileged A squadron of Yak-1 (later Yak-9 and Yak-3) fighters took over logistical support. On December 4, 1942, the squadron was included in the Soviet Air Force.

At Ivanovo, the French mastered the technique of flying and air combat over Soviet fighters, which was seriously different from the Dewoitines (Dewoitine D.520) they flew at Rayak. The commander, who formed the first French group of pilots and mechanics, Major Joseph Pouliken. After his departure in February 1943, Major Jean-Louis Tulian led the fleet. first combat commander (Killed in air combat in July 1943).

After mastering military equipment on March 22, 1943, French pilots flew to the Western Front where they became part of the 1st Air Army’s 204th Bombardment Aviation Division as a battle squadron. They were stationed at the Mukovnino military airfield, near the town of Linen Factory, Kaluga Region. Foreign pilots wearing Soviet uniforms wore the insignia of the French Air Force, sometimes combined uniform jackets with the uniforms of the Red Army. The fighters on which the French flew were decorated with red stars, but between the propeller and the cockpit on both sides of each machine, three colored stripes were applied: blue, white and red – the colors of the French national flag, followed by white lightning – symbols of swiftness.

A day after the fleet’s arrival at the front, the 12 ready-to-service vehicles flew in their first sorties patrolling the airport area. The first joint combat flight of Soviet and French pilots took place on April 5, 1943. On this day, the Normandie squadron accompanied Soviet bombers attacking enemy artillery batteries in the area of ​​​​the city of Roslavl, Smolensk Region. When the bombers did their job and took the return route, they were followed by German fighters. French pilots went to war with them and shot down two planes.

Since then, the “Normandie” squadron began to regularly participate in combat missions. On April 13, 1943, three French pilots did not return from a battle in which six aircraft of the squadron fought with nine German fighters and shot down three of them. The first losses forced the pilots of the fleet to act more cautiously and cautiously in subsequent encounters with the enemy.

In May 1943, the Soviet command detached the squadron from the 204th bomber division and included it in the 303rd fighter aviation division. After that he changed a little and the nature of the tasks to be solved section.

On July 5, 1943, the squadron was reorganized into the 1st separate fighter aviation regiment “Normandie”. At the request of the regiment’s command, the French technical personnel were completely replaced by Soviet specialists.
The regiment participated in the liberation of Smolensk and the Smolensk region in the Battle of Kursk. After heavy fighting and losses in November 1943, he was sent to Tula for replenishment. In May 1944, the Normandy regiment, consisting of three squadrons, returned to the 1st Air Army on the 3rd Byelorussian Front, renamed the Western Front. French pilots successfully participated in Operation Bagration in Belarus.

By order of the Commander-in-Chief of the USSR of November 28, 1944, the regiment was named “Neman” for active participation in the liberation of Lithuania from the Nazi invaders and the crossing of the Neman River. and the French began to call the regiment “Normandy-Neman” in their own way. In 1945, the regiment participated in the battles in East Prussia, the attack on the fortress city of Koenigsberg (now Kaliningrad).

During their stay on the Soviet-German front from March 25, 1943 to May 9, 1945, the pilots of the Normandy squadron, and later the Normandie-Neman regiment, made 5240 sorties, made 869 air battles, shot down 273 and damaged 50. The aircraft destroyed a significant amount of manpower and military equipment of the enemy. 97 people became pilots of the air regiment, 42 of them died.

The heroic actions of the regiment were awarded the Red Banner and the Soviet Order of Alexander Nevsky by decrees of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of February 19 and June 5, 1945.

The French government awarded the regiment with the Legion of Honor, the War Cross with Palms (Military Cross 1939-1945), the Cross of Liberation (Order of Liberation), and the Military Medal.

The 96 pilots who served in the regiment were awarded the Soviet Union’s 112 orders, and four were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. Many of the pilots were also awarded French insignia and medals.

In June 1945, French pilots in 41 Yak-3 fighter jets donated by the Soviet Union to France flew to their homeland. In France, Normandy-Niemen pilots operated Yak-3 fighter planes until 1947. One of the Yak-3s the Normandy-Neman pilots fought against is currently hidden At the National Air and Space Museum in Le Bourget.

In memory of the downed Normandie-Niemen pilots, in 1956, a memorial plaque was placed on the building of the former French military mission in Moscow (now the residence of the French military attaché) with the names of 42 pilots who fell in the war. Below is the emblem of the legendary fleet and another commemorative plaque that reads “You lived short but brightly. Your Soviet comrades.”

In 1964, at the Vvedensky cemetery in Moscow, on the grave of a French pilot whose remains were found in the Oryol region, a monument was erected to the Unknown pilot of the Normandie-Niemen regiment. In October 2007, a monument to the pilots of this regiment was unveiled on Krasnokursantsky Square (Lefortovo) in Moscow, and in the city of Ivanovo in 2015. In the village of the Linen Factory, Kaluga Region, where the combat path of the Normandy-Neman fleet began in 2009 he founded a stele In memory of French pilots.

In France, a monument to the heroes of the Normandie-Niemen air regiment was unveiled in 2006 near the Museum of Aviation and Cosmonautics in Le Bourget, near Paris. At the center of the sculptural composition created by Russian sculptor Vladimir Surovtsev is a French pilot and a Russian aircraft mechanic, looking at the sky with worry and hope, awaiting the return of their comrades from a sortie. In 2017, a monument with the names of the 42 French pilots who died was erected in front of the Air and Space Museum in Le Bourget.

Currently, the French and Russian Air Forces have military aviation units bearing the designation “Normandie-Niemen”.

Normandie-Niemen air group returns to France did not disperse. It became known as the Normandie-Niemen warrior group and was headquartered in the city of Colmar. air group joined In the colonial war in Indochina (1946-1954) and in the NATO military operation against Yugoslavia (1999). It officially disbanded on July 3, 2009, but was revived in 2011.

In Russia The designation “Normandy-Neman” is the 18th Guards Assault (until 1993 – fighter-bomber) air regiment, in which French pilots of the Normandy squadron participated in the spring of 1943. After the end of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945), he was settled in the village of Galenki, located in the Primorsky Territory. In 1995 the regiment was given the honorary name “Normandie-Niemen”. In 2006, he was awarded the Legion of Honor, France’s highest award, for bravery and heroism during the Great Patriotic War, for the preservation of traditions and respect for the memory of friendship at the front. . In 2009 the regiment was disbanded, but later rebuilt. To date, the “Normandy-Neman” assault aviation regiment is located at the airfield in Chernigovka, Primorsky Territory.

The material has been prepared based on information from RIA Novosti and open sources.

Source: Ria

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