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Frenchmen refused eating "bird food"

On Vvedenskoye cemetery of Moscow there is a grave of a French WW2 soldier - Bruno de Faletans. Bruno was a lieutenant of Normandie regiment - 96 French pilots who joined Soviet army in their fight against Hitler. France had been occupied by that time.

Bruno de Faletans worked together with a Russian technician Sergei Astakhov. Once when they went together for a training flight, their Yak-9 was damaged and Faletans managed to land it in a field. The two were rescued from there by another airplane, but later decided to return on a spare Yak-7 and try to fix their fighter. It didn’t work out, and they were already flying back to the regiment’s airfield on the same Yak-7, when the damage made them to land in a field again. This time while landing the chassis got into a trench, and the plane fell apart. The brothers in arms were buried in the same grave.

A monument to Bruno de Faletans and Sergei Astakhov not far from Vvedenskoye is dedicated to this French-Russian brotherhood in arms. It is a place for the Moscow French to gather for the Victory Day on the 8th of May. We visit the monument during Lefortovo Tour.

After the war their remains were brought in Moscow, on Vvedenskoye cemetery. Faletans’ relatives attended this ceremony and even had a memorial dinner in Astakhov’s sister’s house. They decided to leave Bruno there he is, next to his technician, while most of the 42 perished Normandie pilots were reburied in France.

Why de Faletan worked with a Russian technician? At first all the technicians were also French, but being not used to work with plane engines wearing thick mittens in winter and being less motivated from the very beginning, they begged to let them go. Also they refused to eat buckwheat saying it is “birds’ food”, and shocked the cooking staff by chewing... dandelions. And with the introduction of the new airplane Yak-9 which had a completely different engine, the French technicians became even more useless as they could not read the manuals, so they were sent back to Northern Africa where they served before. Then every French pilot got a Russian technician.

On this photo Bruno de Faletan is with his regiment signalwoman.

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