Edmond Marin-La-Meslée was born on February 5, 1912, at Valenciennes.
As a child, he developed interest in aviation, at a time when this sector was still in its infancy. Upon obtaining his baccalaureate, he started studying law. But his law studies could hardly subdue his urge to fly, so quickly opted to train as a pilot…
He was barely 19 when he awarded a pilot licence by the Morane-Saulnier flight training school and after obtaining a State scholarship, he decided to enlist for military service before call-up. In November 1931, he studied the reserve officer cadets (Elèves officiers de réserve) course at Istres, and later on at Avord. Emerging first in his year, he was appointed reserve second lieutenant in September 1932 before subsequently joining the Strasbourg 2nd Fighter division.
At the end of this period, obliged to return to civilian life, he got enlisted again as a sergeant. After his wedding in 1935, he was admitted, a year later, to the Air Force Academy. Awarded the rank of second lieutenant at the end of his training, he was thereafter sent to the 5th Air Wing.
Appointed lieutenant in October 1939, he distinguished himself, with the I/5 group and as the pilot of an American-made Curtiss H75, during the phoney war – he downed one Dornier 17 in January 1940 – and fought in the French campaign between May and June 1940, obtaining 20 air victories (16 officially recognized) in 106 attack missions. In other words, he was actually a French flying “ace of aces” of that period.
After the armistice agreement, his group withdrew to the Maghreb region. Appointed captain in December 1941, he returned to the battlefront a year later, after the Anglo-American landing in North Africa (operation Torch). Since his unit had a Curtiss P-40, and a Bell P-39 Airacobra, he served on the Allies side in the Tunisian battle and, off the North African coast, he carried out 105 Coastal Command missions, during which he scored 4 new air victories.
Promoted Major in June 1944, Edmond Marin-La-Meslée returned to France and, settled in the East, assisted the 1st French Army support missions. During the Colmar pocket battle, on February 4, 1945, his P-47 Thunderbolt was hit by shells and crashed in a field in the Dessenheim council area. The officer did not survive the accident.
In his last commendation, Major Marin-La-Meslée was described as a true incarnation of the fighter division; his virtues and glory have immortalized him as one of the emblematic figures of the Air force and one of the most venerated national heroes (“pur visage de l’aviation de chasse dont il était l’incarnation, il restera par ses vertus et par se gloire l’une des figures les plus éclatantes de l’armée de l’Air et l’un des héros les plus nobles de la nation”).