Ambassador Richier conveys his condolences on the demise of World War II veteran
Ambassador Richier conveys his condolences on the demise of Mr Gabriel David, former French Air Force Chief Sergeant, World War II veteran.
It was with deep grief that I learnt of the demise in Puducherry of Mr Gabriel David, the last French World War II veteran in India. Making the courageous choice of fighting for a free France when she was under Occupation, he voluntarily signed up for the French armed forces at the age of 22, joining the Free French Air Force (FAFL) in 1942 and serving bravely and honourably till the victory of 1945.
His life was the epitome of commitment to serving France. His titles and decorations are witness to his well-deserved recognition from France. We shall never forget the bravery and supreme sacrifice of this generation, which will remain exemplary for all of us. With the passing of Mr David we have lost a great Frenchman, a Resistance fighter of World War II and a figure of deep attachment to Indo-French friendship.
I convey my most heartfelt condolences to his family and near and dear ones.
Ambassador of France to India
Gabriel DAVID (15 December 1920 - 01 July 2014)
Ranked for armed service by the Pondicherry Review Board in February 1940, Mr Gabriel David volunteered to fight for the French army for the duration of World War II. He joined the Free French Air Force (FAFL) from Pondicherry in 1942 at the Beirut Air Force Headquarters. After a year in the Levant in the 2nd FAFL air battalion, when he was ranked as a senior aircraftman, Mr David was transferred to Algeria, where he joined the III/3 Ardennes Fighter Squadron.
Landing in Marseille in September 1944, he reached Salon-de-Provence on 23 September, a few days after Operation Dragoon, then moved on to Colmar, arriving in April 1945, two months after the town was freed, as part of a detachment of precursors from the III/3 Ardennes Fighter Squadron.
Mr David was mobilized in Indochina in November 1945. He first joined the II/7 Nice Fighter Squadron till August 1946, then the III/2 Alsace Squadron under which he participated in the Nha-Trang and Saigon movements. He was promoted to the rank of sergeant in August 1947. During his stay in Indochina, he asked for five re-engagements for periods varying from six months to three years in the PNNSG (general service ground personnel) corps. In December 1952, he was appointed First Sergeant of the PNNSG. On secondment to the armed forces of the Republic of Vietnam in 1956, he was relieved from his contract in 1958 and granted entitlement to proportional pension.
During his mobilization under the French armed forces, Mr David received numerous decorations, including the Medal of Liberated France (1953), the medal of the Knight of the Order of the Black Star (1956), and the military medal (1957).
The eight children of Mr David and his spouse, Janine, reside in France. Mr David had wished to be interred in Combs-La-Ville, near Paris, to rejoin his beloved France.