Rene Mouchotte had defied orders to escape from France and join the Free French in Britain in 1940. He was now a Squadron Leader in command of No. 65 Squadron, the first foreign national to command an RAF Squadron.
On the 24th December they had begun practice for landing on aircraft carriers – taking off and landing from a marked out runway. Then they moved to a Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm station at Arbroath for training at sea, on HMS Argus.
Mouchotte was impressed with the Royal Navy. ‘What a difference after the RAF. Cleanliness, discipline, mess like a grand hotel, trained waiters, very good food, comfort etc.’.