After having studied tropical agriculture, he, at the age of twenty, was made the sub-director of a plantation in Vanuatu, where he got married to Thérèse Laborde. Enthusiast about aviation, he with his friend, Henri Martinet, in 1939, made the first successful Nouméa-Paris flight of 25 000 kilometres, with 48 stopovers, using a 100 horsepower Renault Aiglon single engine aeroplane......
The Second World War broke out and late 1940, Paul Klein, though married and father of two, decided to join the Pacific battalion and volunteered to enter the aviation. From January to May 1942, he took cadet officers’ classes at Damas, and came out second. Thereafter, he met Major Bergé who was in search of staff to train the Special Air Service (S.AS.) French Squadron. He volunteered for the position.
He went to North Africa and, after strenuous training at Kabret in Egypt, he participated in several motorised raids behind the German lines, with the objective of destroying on the ground the planes which fired Allied convoys. He equally participated in the famous Benghazi raid, passing through Koufra. His total number of parachute jumps stood at 67.
But on January 28, 1943, while returning from a Sfax-Gabès railway sabotage mission, the commando, to which Paul Klein with Lieutenant Jordan and soldier Melis belonged, fell into the hands of German soldiers. Though Adolf Hitler had ordered the execution of all SAS captured and considered "dangerous individuals", General Rommel refused to implement such order, Paul Klein’s life was thus spared, but he was detained at the Lubeck prison, an then at the Colditz fortress.
While in detention, he made futile attempts to escape but it was not until July 30, 1945, that he was finally freed and, a few months later, was able to return to New Caledonia to join his family. He resumed his industrial activity with a rather strong bias towards warfare.
After having gone on retirement, the adventurer and daredevil Paul Klein did not give up but remained faithful to the SAS motto: Who dares win. Thus at the age of 81, he jumped using a tandem parachute, from an altitude of 2500 metres. At 83, he made another bungee at a bridge of 70 metres. On May 23, 2009, three days after celebrating his one hundredth anniversary, our "Ageless Hero" jumped again using a tandem parachute from an altitude of 3 000 metres. Coming after a 101 year-old Australian, he is the second centenarian in the world and the first Frenchman to have created this record.
Officer of the Legion of Honour, holder of the Second World War cross, the Resistance medal, the volunteer serviceman cross, the escapee medal and several other decorations, the air force honorary captain Paul Klein commands respect thanks to his adventurous life and devotedness, both of which he achieved with down-to-earth modesty. PC
Paul Klein’s biography is narrated in a book written by JM Clerc, an attack Caledonian.