Adjutant Pierre Michel Blaize
Pierre Michel Blaize was born in Saint Leocadie, near Perpignan, in the Roussillon area of France on 1st November 1915. He joined the French Air Force in August 1935 and was promoted to Sergeant in August 1936.
When the Germans invaded France and Belgium in May 1940, Blaize was an instructor at Meknes, French Morocco, and was there when the French surrendered.
Despite being ordered to remain at the base, Blaize, in company with Georges Perrin, also a future Battle of Britain airman and No.615 Squadron pilot, planned an escape to England. Flying the personal aircraft of the base commandant, a Caudron Goeland, they made it to Gibraltar. From there they sailed, on 3 July, in the armed trawler President Houduce, reaching Liverpool on 13 July.
Blaize, in common with other French pilots went to RAF St. Athan in late July for induction and assessment, before moving to No.1 School of Army Co-operation at Old Sarum on 30 July. On 9 August he began a week’s flying in Tiger Moths and Hawker Hectors at Odiham and then moved on to No.5 Operational Training Unit at Aston Down on 18 August.
Following his conversion on to Hurricanes, Blaize joined No.111 Squadron at Drem on 9 October. He was promoted to Warrant Officer on 1 September 1940 and was still with No.111 on 25 March 1941, when, as a Sous-Lieutenant, he was posted to No.615 Squadron at Kenley to replace Henri Bouquillard, a French pilot who had been shot down and killed. At the time 615 Squadron maintained a cadre of 4 French pilots.
On 15 April, during a patrol covering a sweep by No.92 Squadron, near the Pas de Calais, Blaize and his Section Leader Flight-Lieutenant Dunning-White were attacked from the rear by two Me109s, both men were shot down. Dunning-White, a new Flight Commander who had recently arrived from No.145 Squadron, claimed 615’s first victory of 1941 on this sortie before having to bale out himself. He was picked up by an Air Sea Rescue launch near Dymchurch. Blaize had become slightly separated from the rest of his section and was ‘picked off’ by Hauptmann Joppien of JG51. With his aircraft badly damaged and burning, Blaize managed to bale out from his Hurricane IIa, Z2410*, about ten miles from the English coast. His descent was covered right down to the sea by one of his squadron and Blaize was seen to release himself from his parachute, before the aircraft had to leave him and return to base. The parachute was found by rescue craft when they arrived in the area, but no sign of Blaize.
Squadron diary entry:
“B” Flight led by Wing Commander Peel carried out a patrol Dover-Dungeness area, when about mid-Channel in the Dover area, Green Section (F/Lt Dunning-White and P/O Blaize) were attacked from behind by two Me.109s. P/O Blaize was shot down and is missing…S/Ldr Eyre tried to locate the position where P/O Blaize came down, in the sea, he saw an object and after dropping a smoke bomb guided some rescue boats to the scene, but they failed to find the missing pilot.
Rest in peace Sir and thank you for your service.
Note: Some sources give Z2765 as the Hurricane flown by Blaize on his final sortie. However, Z2410 was flown by Blaize on 5 of his 11 sorties with No.615 Squadron and is the one quoted in the Operations Record Book.
Tragically, Pierre’s brother, Georges, was killed five months later serving with the RAF in Malta, when a captured Heinkel He115 floatplane, used by the RAF Kalafrana flight, failed to return from an operational sortie.