Spitfire IX BS548
Lieutenant Claude Raoul-Duval
341 ‘Alsace’ Squadron
Lost 17 April 1943
French Spitfire pilot Claude Raoul-Duval was lost on 17th April 1943 on Circus 286, led by Squadron Leader René Mouchotte. Claude and another Free French pilot, Lt Philippe Béraud, were claimed by Fw Herbert Gumprecht of 11/JG2. Béraud was killed near Etretat and is buried at Le Havre Sainte Marie cemetery. Claude Raoul-Duval baled out of Spitfire IX BS548, 341 ‘Alsace’ Squadron at Tancarville, east of Le Havre. Gumprecht was later killed in action on 16th August 43 in Normandy.
Claude’s wartime career is outstanding. After being shot down near Tancarville he was back in UK six months later having travelled via Spain and Gibraltar. With him were two USAAF crews – and his bride, a member of the French underground.
He returned to 341 Squadron and served until 1945.
He wrote a book ‘Ciel de Sable’ (Sky of Sand) about his time in Libya and Egypt in 1942 when he was credited with a Ju88 shot down.
Spitfire BS548 had flown previously with Free French 340 Squadron ‘Ile de France’. It then went for a short time to 402 (RCAF) Squadron, then went back to 340 and later to 341.
BS548 dived into reclaimed marshland and was completely buried. It was located by researcher Laurent Viton and excavated in September 2012 with Claude Raoul-Duval in attendance.
Note that the entry in Claude’s log book, seen here, is wrong – he was not flying BS393, which survived the war. It is not known who made the entry, but it is signed off by Squadron Leader René Mouchotte .
Thanks to Laurent, Jeff and Victoria for the info and pictures.