Pilot Officer Alexis Rene Isidore Ghislain Jottard, RAF no. 82515
1912 – 27 October 1940
Alexis Jottard was born in 1912.
In September 1939 he served with the 1/II/2. Aé, which was equipped with Fairey Fireflies.
During the night of 8/9 September 1939, six Whitleys of 77 Squadron and six from 102 Sqadron took off from England to undertake leaflet dropping operations over Germany. Two Whitleys from 77 Squadron strayed over Belgium on their return. Duty pilots at Nivelles fighter base were alerted when the incursions were first reported, and shortly afterwards Captain Lucien Boussa of the 5e Escadrille of Flight Regiment 2 took off in a Fairey Fox, joined by two Fairey Fireflies of the 4e Escadrille, piloted by Daniel Leroy du Vivier and Marcel Michotte. The trio intercepted one Whitley and Boussa fired a burst in front of its nose in an effort to force it to land. Instead the Whitley's gunner returns fire, hitting Leroy du Vivier’s Firefly obliging him to make a forced landing forthwith at 06:00.
Another Fairey Fox flown by Boussa's No 2, Adjutant Albert Genot with Corporal Roger Alaffe as his gunner, had now also got off the ground and pursued another bomber signalling, its position by radio. A white Verey light was fired at the bomber which replied with a red and continued on its way. Genot drew off and like Boussa fired a burst across the Whitley’s bows. This aircraft too returned fire, hitting the Fox in the tail and rear fuselage and setting it on fire. The crew baled out as the stricken aircraft went down to crash on the estate of Count Gaston d’Oultrement at Nouvelles at 06:00. Genot was wounded in the hand, and Alaffe broke his right shoulder on landing.
It would seem that their opponent was Whitley K8951 (Flight Lieutenant Connell), the crew of which reported shooting down a fighter. The bomber was itself damaged in this encounter and went on to crash-land at Lognes, France, the pilot having suffered a slight head wound (the aircraft was later repaired).
Meanwhile on the ground the news of the interceptions was out and two more pilots (this time from the 4e Escadrille), Jottard and Sous-Lieutenant Jean Offenberg pulled on flying suits over their pyjamas, taking off in their Fireflies to join in. They soon spotted Whitley DY-J (K8985) flown by Flight Lieutenant W. V. G. Cognan, on its way back from Kiel and Hamburg. They fired a green flare and forced the bomber down to land on their own airfield, where the crew was interned.
The crew was released a short time later but the Whitley was still at the airfield on 10 May and presumed destroyed during the German invasion.
Early in 1940 his unit was re-equipped with Fiat CR.42.
In the early morning on 10 May the IIème Group was ordered to evacuated from Nivelles to Landing Field No 22 at Brustem.
At 06:05 five Fiat CR.42s took off from Brustem to provide cover for the airfield. The second patrol (Sous-Lieutenant Jean Offenberg, 1er Sergent Jean Maes and 1er Sergent Jottard) attacked Dornier Do 17s and a Bf 109. Offenberg claimed one destroyed Do 17, and fired on one other aircraft, which dived away. One of the aircraft he shot at was a Dornier Do 17 of II/KG77, which was damaged east of Waremme at 06.30 (there are some confusion regarding Offenberg's claims and some sources only credits him with a damaged Do 17). Jean Maes damaged a Dornier Do 17 of II/KG77, near St Trond at 06.30. This claim is not confirmed.
On 3 June he damaged an enemy bomber (Do 17?) near Chartres at around 13:40. This claim is not confirmed.
After a few days, the remains of his unit withdrew to Chartres in France. From here he and Sous-Lieutenant Jean Offenberg flew two Caudron Simouns to Montpelier on 19 June, and then on to Algeria, via Corsica, next day, where they joined the Belgian flying school which had been set up at Oujda. Finding morale low here, they attempted unsuccessfully to obtain an aircraft to fly to Gibraltar, so took a train to Casablanca, where they met a group of Poles and other Belgians, getting away by the cargo-ship Djebel Druse to Gibraltar.
They sail to England on the ship Har Sion in July, reaching Liverpool on 16th.
Jottard was commissioned in the RAF on 30 July and went to 6 OTU at Sutton Bridge on the same day.
Here he converted to Hurricanes and on 17 August he joined 145 Squadron at Westhampnett together with Offenberg.
He was shot down on 27 October by a Bf 109 five miles south-east of the Isle of Wight, in Hurricane P3167, and reported missing.
At the time of his death Jottard was credited with one damaged enemy aircraft. This was claimed while flying biplanes.
Biplane victories: 1 damaged.
TOTAL: 1 damaged.
Désastre à Schaffen - Christian-Jacques Ehrengardt, 2000, Aéro Journal No. 12
Fledgling Eagles - Christopher Shores with John Foreman, Christian-Jaques Ehrengardt, Heinrich Weiss and Bjørn Olsen, 1991 Grub Street, London, ISBN 0-948817-42-9
Lonely Warrior - Jean Offenberg (edited by Victor Houart), 1956, Souvenir Press, London
Men of the Battle of Britain - Kenneth G. Wynn, 1999 CCB Associates, ISBN 1-902074-10-6
The Battle of France Then and Now – Peter D. Cornwell, 2008 After the Battle, ISBN 9-781870-067652
Additional information kindly provided by Ivan Martens and Peter Taghon.