Roland de la Poype

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Roland de la Poype
File:Roland de La Poype (1920-2012).jpg
Roland de la Poype in 1940
Born (1920-07-28)28 July 1920
Les Pradeaux, France
Died 23 October 2012(2012-10-23) (aged 92)[1]
Saint-Tropez, France
Occupation Aviator, industrialist.
Known for Aviator, flying ace, industrialist.

Roland Paulze d'Ivoy de la Poype (born 28 July 1920 in Les Pradeaux in France - died 23 October 2012) is a World War II fighter ace, member of the Normandie-Niemen fighter group that fought on the Soviet front. He is also a plastic industry pioneer and founder of the Antibes Marineland in 1970.

Early life

His father, an agronomist and reserve officer in the French army, was killed at the front in May 1940.

Wartime service

Aged 19 years old in August 1939 de la Poype enrolled in the French air force and began training as a pilot. He finished his training in March 1940, shortly before the German invasion of France. With comrades from the fighter training school of Etampes, he managed to flee to Saint-Jean-de-Luz to board a ship to England.

After serving in French Equatorial Africa from July 1940 to January 1941 with the Free French Air Force, he joined the Royal Air Force as a Sergeant and was assigned to No 602 Squadron, flying Supermarine Spitfires in July 1941. An indication of his flying abilities, he was selected as wingman by the squadron's commanding officer, 32-victory Irish ace, Squadron Leader Paddy Finucane.[citation needed]

He claimed his first aircraft destroyed, a Messerschmitt Bf 109, on 22 August 1942 over Gravelines, and flew more than 60 combat missions.

Upon learning that a group of French volunteers was to be sent to the Soviet front, he joined the Normandie fighter group and was part of the first batch of 12 French pilots who, via transfers through Lebanon and Iraq, arrived in Ivanovo in the Soviet Union on 28 November 1942. The two squadrons, initially called the Normandie Group, were assigned the Yak-1B fighter and attached to the 303rd Fighter Aviation Division of the 1st Air Army.

On 31 August 1943 he shot down a Ju 87 Stuka dive-bomber. This was his second aerial victory and his first on the Soviet front.

He ended the war with a total tally of 16 confirmed aerial victories (7 solo and 9 shared victories), one (and 11 shared) probables, and one aircraft damaged in almost 200 missions,[2] most of which were achieved while flying with top French ace and Commanding Officer Marcel Albert.[citation needed] De la Poype was one of only four members of the regiment to be awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.

After leaving the Soviet Union on 20 June 1945 he became an air attaché in Belgium and later Yugoslavia before retiring from the air force in 1947.

Plastic industry career

An inventor, de La Poype understood that plastics and disposable packaging would become very important. As head of the Société d'Etudes et d'Applications du Plastique, he set up his first plastics factory in May 1947. He is also the designer of the Citroen Mehari.

Marineland in Antibes

De la Poype created the Marineland in Antibes in 1970 in order to educate the public about marine life. He retired in 1985 but retained ownernership until 2006. He and his artist wife Marie-Nöelle lived in a lavish Paris apartment a half-mile from the Trocadero.

He was also mayor of Champigné and was the owner of a golf course near Angers.


  • Roland de la Poype, L'épopée du Normandie-Niémen, Perrin, 2007

Medals and awards

Soviet awards


  1. "Décès de Roland La Poype, pilote du Normandie-Niémen et Compagnon de la Libération - Le Point". 2012-10-19. Retrieved 2012-10-25.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Shores/Williams; "Aces High", page 504

External links