The tail fin of a French aircraft shot down on 21 May 1940



Origin: Musée de la Reddition, Reims


Eighty years ago almost to the day, on 21 May 1940, while on a cover mission south of Cambrai, this Morane-Saulnier MS406 was shot down by German fighters, killing its pilot. The pilot’s body was not found until 16 April 1941, among the wreckage of his aeroplane, and buried in Gonnelieu cemetery (Nord).


The aircraft belonged to the 5th Escadrille of Groupe de Chasse III/6, which operated from the Wez-Thuisy airfield, near Reims, from 15 November 1939 to 30 April 1940. It was piloted by Sergeant Armould Thiroux, Count of Gervillier, who named it Le Dahut.


The priest of the village of Gonnieux, Abbé Peugniez, who made the discovery, recovered the aircraft’s tail fin and hid it behind the church organ to prevent it from falling into enemy hands. It was rediscovered in 1979, and today constitutes a precious testimony to the sacrifices made by the French air force during the Second World War.