Gaël Taburet, the last surviving Normandie-Niémen pilot, passed away on February 10 in Southern France, aged 97. Born in 1919, Taburet enlisted in the French air force in 1938 and received his pilot’s wings in 1939.
In January 1944, he volunteered to join the Normandie fighter regiment (later renamed Normandie-Niémen by Stalin in recognition of their contribution to the Soviet war effort) fighting on the Soviet front, joining the unit in April of the 1944. He scored his first aerial victory when he shot down a Fw 190 fighter during his first operational sortie. By the end of the conflict, he was credited with 2 confirmed aerial victories, 3 shared victories, 2 damaged and one shared damage.
After his return to France, he stayed in the air force, retiring in 1963 with the rank of colonel. With Taburet’s death, only one member of the Normandie-Niémen survives to this day: André Peyronie, who was a mechanic with the group.
Gaël Taburet’s funeral will be held on February 22 in Cannes.