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OBITUARY

Jacques Remlinger DFC Legion d'Honneur

Jacques Remlinger (January 3, 1923 in Asnières - October 10, 2002 in Cubrial) was a French fighter pilot who fought during the Second World War within the Free French Air Force. According to Pierre Clostermann, with whom he made more than 200 missions, he was one of two pilots who strafed the vehicle of Marshal Erwin Rommel July 17, 1944 in Normandy, seriously wounding him.

Of Alsatian origin, his father was a merchant and had an import-export house in England. Jacques Remlinger was educated in Harrow.

In 1940, he took pilot training at Sywell Elementary School. He then went to Free France at the age of 18.

In 1941, he trained at Rednal and was seconded to the RAF with 602 City of Glasgow, a group which Clostermann joined in September 1943. They performed many missions together.

Church at Cubrial, France

On a mission with another pilot of his group, the New Zealander Bruce Oliver, on July 17, 1944 over Normandy, they shot up a German car escorted by bikers on the Livarot-Vimoutiers road near the village of Sainte-Foy-de-France, Montgommery. One of the escort's bikers was killed and the driver was fatally shot. The car swerved and went into the ditch, seriously injuring the head of Marshal Rommel, who was in the vehicle returning to his headquarters in the castle of Roche-Guyon. Remlinger did not confirm until 1990 at the opening of the archives of the RAF, that it was the German Marshal's car he had shot. Contrary to the passage concerning the circumstances of his death in the speech of Pierre Closterman in honor of Remlinger (below), Rommel was forced to commit suicide by order of Hitler following his participation in the plot of July 20, 1944.

After the war, Remlinger married an English girl and moved to England. His son Michael became a pilot in the RAF.

In a speech delivered by Pierre Clostermann in tribute to Jacques Remlinger, on the occasion of the mass celebrated in the chapel of the Ecole Militaire, on November 7, 2002:

'We are here, Joëlle his wife, Michael his son, Anita and Caroline his daughters, to pray for Jacques Remlinger's eternal rest, the best and dearest of my friends, the best I've ever known and that I would have known better than a brother.

His comrades from the FAFL, the Royal Air Force and the Air Force also come to greet once again someone who was a French man with flawless righteousness and a brilliant fighter pilot and worthy son of Alsace , our faithful province that has always given France some of the best of her sons.

Born in 1923, and joining the FAFL at aged 18, first at 341 Squadron 'Alsace' and seconded in the RAF 602 Squadron 'City of Glasgow' where we were together. His formidable courage bordered on recklessness. He was a perfect Air-to-ground marksman, scorning the dangerous and deadly German flak, Jacques terrorized me when he slalomed at 500 km / h at the edge of the trees, in the middle of shells of enemy tracer shells of 20 and 37 mm. Thus, during one of the missions, on July 17, 1944 at 3:30 pm, flying over the Livarot-Vimoutiers road, then the Nationale 179, with his New Zealand crew member Bruce Oliver, they strafed a powerful convertible car. It was Marshal Rommel's personal Horsch. Rommel was badly wounded and did not leave the coma until he died at Herrlingen on October 14th of his wounds [sic: see correction above]. The German armies of Normandy, pressed by the Allies, did not recover from Rommel's absence...

As to his character, Jacques never took pride in this action, which weighed heavily on the success of the landing.

One of the aspects of his life and his energy was the practice of his favourite sport: rugby. Indeed, just out of Harrow, the same school as Churchill, at age 17, Jacques played with the Wasps, the rugby champions of England. A distinguished player, a legendary three-quarter wing, he was selected to play for the national team of the United Kingdom on several occasions, an exceptional honour for a foreign player and he played brilliantly several times on the international stage.

During this long period, we carried out two hundred missions, side by side in our Spitfires, sharing the dangers and the victories, something which creates fraternal bonds stronger than those of blood.

The privilege of friendship allowed me to give him the insignia of Commander of the Legion of Honor.

The King of England had awarded him the Distinguished Flying Cross and he had been mentioned nine times in the Order of the Army. An exemplary fighter with unflinching patriotism, he was at the forefront of those who saved the Air Force's honour by not accepting the armistice before victory.

De Gaulle added about FAFL 'Though you were not many, you fought a lot.'

Dear Jacques, the flag that fell in 1940 was picked up and raised high by boys like you. I'm proud to have been your friend, to have shared your life as I would have shared death if the dice rolled on the wrong side! Without perhaps being fully aware of it, you have been one of the depositories of the Honour of the Fatherland.

History can be cruel but it will keep, I hope, your memory.

In any case, the presence today of the flags of RAF and FAFL. are an ultimate tribute to your glorious career.

Dear Jacques, after fifty years of shared friendship, I do not say goodbye to you, because God willing, we will meet again soon.'


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• Last Modified: 10 April 2021, 14:16 •