These are no ordinary war diaries. They cover three years in the life of Rene Mouchotte, from June, 1940 until June, 1943. The diaries stop then because so did his life.
In 1940 Mouchotte was a pilot in the French air force. When his country capitulated, Rene didn't: he escaped in a stolen aircraft, flying from Oran to Gibraltar. From there he made his way to England and the RAF.
Two themes run through Mouchotte's diaries. The first is his burning desire to fight for the liberation of his country. The second is his growing hunger to tackle the enemy, not just as an individual fighter pilot, but as the head of a well-drilled and effective formation of fighters.
These motives drove him onwards. He became the first "foreign" officer (i.e. non-British and non-Commonwealth) to lead an RAF squadron. He then trained a new French unit from scratch - 341 Squadron of the RAF - before leading it into battle. Along with his skills as a pilot and leader, Rene had considerable style: he organised a lavish ball to launch his new squadron on London society.
Mouchotte became a celebrity, credited with shooting down the 1,000th enemy aircraft destroyed by fighters operating from Biggin Hill. His diaries paint vivid pictures of wartime Britain and of life as a pilot with two masters: De Gaulle's Free French hierarchy and the RAF.
Rene Mouchotte was lost in 1943 while leading the Biggin Hill squadrons in battle. You can find him again through these diaries. It is well worth the effort.