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Thread: Pierre clostermann

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    Default Pierre clostermann

    I have just read an article on Clostermann and his number of victories. Under the French system of allocating scores he was credited with 33, including shared claims. But apparently the French system differed from the RAF one, and that of other Allied nations too. How did this system differ, and what would his score have been under RAF 'rules'?

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    Default Re: Pierre clostermann

    There is a detailed article on the web somewhere, I am sure it had verified about 11 or 12 confirmed destroyed and 7 or 8 shared. From memory the 33 included aircraft destroyed while ground strafing and similar.

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    Default Re: Pierre clostermann

    I would have thought that Clostermann, when flying under general RAF administration and operational control, would have had little choice but to adhere to RAF "rules" on such occasions. What the Free French Air Force chose to do later (or privately) was their own business. It must be at least 50 years since I read the book, but was Clostermann a wing commander at end of the war? Even in this appointment I doubt he would not have had much discretion, but then some people had very forceful personalities and just went ahead and did what they pleased!
    David D
    Last edited by David Duxbury; 25th January 2021 at 19:35.

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    Default Re: Pierre clostermann

    As I understand it, the 33 kills were included in the citation for his British award. It should perhaps be pointed out that noted French aviation enthusiast/historian/publisher Christian J. Ehrengardt was taken to court in France and fairly heavily penalised for bringing up much this point in his magazine Aero Journal. At least partly, I understand, at the instigation of a commercial competitor; or at least certainly to their public glee. I feel that this site should tread carefully in this matter.

    I don't think Clostermann was ever a Wing Commander, or even a Squadron Leader though as a highly experienced pilot he may have led formations on occasions.

    I don't know, but would suspect, that the lowest figure possibly are those that have been matched to modern research of Luftwaffe losses, and those "confirmed" at the time may well have been higher. Clearly the figure of 33 saw some circulation at the time, although there has been some suspicion ever since it was noted that there were claims in his book that could not be found in the records of his squadron. However the book is clearly a "roman", in the style of the times, rather than a historical document as we have come to expect/respect nowadays.

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    Default Re: Pierre clostermann

    Presumably there will be Air 50 Combat Reports to assist in the count ?
    I'm a Main Force, Bomber Command sort of chap and dont do much on the Fighter side of things.

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    Default Re: Pierre clostermann

    Hello

    I recommend this book, published last year, which is a good analysis of "The Big Show" compared with other contemporary documents such as Squadrons' ORBs, logbooks, etc..

    http://www.aerostories.org/~aerobiblio/article6470.html but that book is in French. That link also contains a link to a blog where you can print an order form, if interested.

    The claims' list can be found in "Aces High" by Christopher Shores and Clive Williams, published by Grub Street. Authors conclude to 11 destroyed (plus possibly 7 additionnal), 2 probables (plus possibly 3 additional), 9 damaged, 2 destroyed on the ground (plus possibly 4 listed by Clostermann as air victories).

    Joss

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    Default Re: Pierre clostermann

    Quote Originally Posted by Graham Boak View Post
    I don't think Clostermann was ever a Wing Commander, or even a Squadron Leader though as a highly experienced pilot he may have led formations on occasions.
    I agree Graham - I believe he finished the war as a Flt Lt (RAF) and Sous Lt (FFAF),his end of war French Decoration citations referred to him as 'Flt Lt'.
    He was of course a reserve officer post war and flew in the Algerian war as a Lt Col - so I do not know if that is where the Rank confusion comes from.

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    Default Re: Pierre clostermann

    Thanks for the responses lads, much appreciated.

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    Default Re: Pierre clostermann

    I would just like to add to the comments below, to point out that any score compiled from RAF records, particularly late in the war, must carry a warning to the effect that they reflect what has been found in surviving records and are not necessarily definitive. Having been closely involved with research into the relevant records for 'Second TAF' Vols 1 to 4 (with Christopher Shores) it became evident that the 2nd TAF's own 'Log of Casualty Claims and Losses' was riddled with errors and omissions, as were the Wing and Squadron ORB, which in addition varied enormously in range of content. Furthermore, the Air 50 combat report files were never complete and even less so after they were systematically raided about 30 years ago; not all the missing CRs were recovered.

    Two years ago, Avions magazine (No 227) published a 40-page article on Clostermann, focussing on his wartime flying. It included a table of all his claims, which goes a long way to explaining the difference between the 'RAF score' and his own scoreboard as marked on his final Tempest. One prime reason has already been mentioned earlier (the inclusion of aircraft destroyed or damaged on the ground) and I do not intend to go through the full list here. However I will quote a couple of examples which give rise to significant differences in the lists.

    On 2 July 1944, flying with 602 Sqn, Clostermann was involved in a combat with Fw 190s a few miles south of Cabourg. In his combat report he claimed one destroyed and four others damaged and that was the assessment in the 2ndTAF log. It was his last flight before the end of his first tour. There is, apparently, a note in his logbook which says this claim was upgraded to 2 destroyed, one probable and one damaged and quotes "83 Grp Int B 20 August 44" (Intelligence Bulletin?) as the source. The 2nd TAF log which I accessed was not updated and I have not seen the bulletin but that does not mean it does not exist.

    In the weeks after VE Day Clostermann took the opportunity to visit the sites of some of his claims On such site was Rottenburg which he attacked, with two other 3 Sqn pilots on 19 April 45, early evening. They caught 4 He177s in the open; the flak was intense so they did not hang around to view the results but could still see flames when 40 kms away. In his log he had written 2 probable and two destroyed (shared with his colleagues) but no CR has come to light, nor is there any corresponding entry in the 2ndTAF log. After his visit he felt able to include them in his total.

    I hope these examples show how difficult it is to establish definitive totals. Does it really matter? I think not, but the debate will go on(mainly on Facebook, fuelled by people with little idea of the issues, never mind the facts).
    Last edited by Chris Thomas; 28th January 2021 at 12:44. Reason: Typo

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    Default Re: Pierre clostermann

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Thomas View Post
    On 2 July 1944, flying with 602 Sqn, Clostermann was involved in a combat with Fw 190s a few miles south of Cabourg. In his combat report he claimed one destroyed and four others damaged and that was the assessment in the 2ndTAF log. It was his last flight before the end of his first tour. There is, apparently, a note in his logbook which says this claim was upgraded to 2 destroyed, one probable and one damaged and quotes "83 Grp Int B 20 August 44" (Intelligence Bulletin?) as the source. The 2nd TAF log which I accessed was not updated and I have not seen the bulletin but that does not mean it does not exist.
    I can confirm, that references to such bulletins do appear, for both FC and 2 TAF Groups, though I have never seen any such a bulletin in original.
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Thomas View Post
    I hope these examples show how difficult it is to establish definitive totals. Does it really matter? I think not, but the debate will go on(mainly on Facebook, fuelled by people with little idea of the issues, never mind the facts).
    You are killing the fun of research!
    https://www.facebook.com/Franciszek-Grabowski-241360809684411/

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