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General Joseph Vuillemin

Discussion in 'General Chatter' started by Jim, Jan 12, 2010.

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  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    General Joseph Vuillemin (born in Bordeaux 14 March 1883 – died in Lyon 23 July 1963) was a French military aviator who took part in both world wars. In June 1915, he was promoted to captain and became a squadron commander in February 1918. During the war, he scored seven confirmed kills, thus earning the designation of French fighter ace of the First World War.

    At the outbreak of the Second World War, he became Chief of the Air Staff, a post he would hold until the Armistice with France (Second Compiègne) in June 1940. During the Battle of France, General Vuillemin repeatedly called for more British squadrons to come to the aid of French forces which were under severe attack from the German Luftwaffe. Commenting to General Edward Spears on 30 May 1940, the British Air Attaché in Paris, Air Commodore Douglas Colyer, criticised certain senior French officers saying that, while they had been very brave pilots in the last war, they were not sufficiently educated to command important formations now. In Colyer's view, included among these was General Vuillemin.

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    On 12 June 1940, at a meeting of the Anglo French Supreme War Council at Briare, it was reported that a bombing raid by the RAF against Italy the previous day had been thwarted by General Vuillemin, who had ordered lorries to be driven onto the airfield as the bombers were preparing for take-off. He feared that such raids would provoke Italian reprisals, the consequences of which would be disastrous, as the French Air Force was not present in the south. Vuillemin requested that no raids be launched against targets in northern Italy unless these were carried out in response to attacks by the Italians. General Spears, who was present at the conference in his capacity of Winston Churchill's personal representative to the French Prime Minister, wondered why 'if he had bombers to bomb back in retaliation, why not use them now?'

    On 24 June 1940, Vuillemin was named Inspector General of the Air Force and given responsibility for the co-ordination of air defence operations. In November 1940, at his own request, he was removed from the active list of serving air force officers.

    He died in Lyon on 23 July 1963, and is buried in the Cemetery de la Chartreuse at Bordeaux.
     

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