Mar­cel Al­bert

Fighter pi­lot who flew Soviet-built planes in du­els with Ger­man air­craft on East­ern Front

The Scotsman - - Obituaries -

Mar­cel al­bert, Sec­ond World War fly­ing ace. Born: 25 Novem­ber, 1917, in Paris. died: 23 au­gust, 2010, in Har­lin­gen, texas, aged 92.

MAR­cel Al­bert be­came one of the lead­ing French fighter pi­lots of the Sec­ond World War, fly­ing Soviet-built planes in du­els with Ger­man air­craft on the east­ern front.

Al­bert was among four pi­lots of the Free French’s Nor­mandie-Nié­men fighter unit to be dec­o­rated as a hero of the Soviet Union, re­ceiv­ing the ci­ta­tion in 1944.

Fly­ing Yakovlev fighter planes – known as Yaks – in com­bat along­side Soviet pi­lots, he took part in shoot­ing down 24 Ger­man planes. cre­ated by charles de Gaulle in 1942 to help re­pel hitler’s in­va­sion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, the Nor­mandie-Nié­men unit was com­posed of nearly 100 French fighter pi­lots, al­most half of whom were killed in ac­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the Nor­mandieNié­men Mu­seum in les An­delys, France, its pi­lots flew 5,240 mis­sions and shot down at least 273 Ger­man planes.

Al­bert was a me­chanic with Re­nault be­fore join­ing the French Air Force in 1938. he was a fighter pi­lot dur­ing Ger­many’s in­va­sion of France in May 1940, shoot­ing down two Ger­man planes on a sin­gle day; he later flew in com­bat out of eng­land.

he left mil­i­tary ser­vice in 1948 and went to the United States, where he opened a chain of ho­tels.

in Novem­ber 2009, France’s am­bas­sador to the United States, Pierre Vi­mont, went to Texas to present Al­bert with a medal recog­nis­ing him as a grand of­fi­cer in the Or­der of the le­gion of honor.

And just three months ago, Al­bert found that the Rus­sians, too, had not for­got­ten his ex­ploits in the skies over the Soviet Union and east­ern Ger­many.

he re­ceived a visit from Rus­sia’s con­sul gen­eral in hous­ton, Ni­co­lay Babich, who pre­sented him with a com­mem­o­ra­tive medal struck for the 65th an­niver­sary of the Sec­ond World War’s end in europe.

Babich also took a bot­tle of vodka as a gift from the Rus­sian peo­ple.

At that time, Al­bert com­mented on how the sac­ri­fices of wartime had proved their worth.

“The world isn’t in trou­ble at all,” he said. “The world has al­ready been sta­ble for over 50 years.”

But his nephew, Jean Mavinger, said that he rarely spoke of his wartime ex­pe­ri­ences.

Mavinger added: “All his friends died in Rus­sia.”

Mar­cel Al­bert’s wife died last year. The cou­ple had no chil­dren but he is sur­vived by a sis­ter.

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