Pierre Clostermann was one of the most high-profile Free French World War Two pilots. In the centenary year of his birth, Malcolm V Lowe examines this fascinating aviator’s career and achievements
Many larger-than-life characters emerged from the protracted conflict of World War Two – and have remained in people’s consciousness even to the present day. Born 100 years ago during February 1921, Pierre Clostermann was one of the most celebrated French aviators to survive the war. Although he is best remembered in the wider world as a fighter pilot, he is as renowned in his native France for his activities following World War Two as he is for his earlier combat flying. A close ally of French leader in exile Charles de Gaulle, he was prominent during the rebuilding of the French political institutions following the war and served for many years in the French parliament. Similarly, he played an active role in the growth of the then-newly re-established French aerospace industry during that same period.