Monday, March 9, 2015

Belgian section of the Royal Air Force

Flag of the Belgian section of the Royal Air Force

The initial Belgian fliers with the Royal Air Force were individual members of British squadrons. Belgium contributed 29 pilots to Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. Although usually randomly posted to various RAF fighter squadrons, No. 609 Squadron had enough Belgian pilots to form a flight. Later, some of the Belgian pilots were organized into two all-Belgian squadrons, the No. 350 (Belgian) Squadron (formed November 1941) and No. 349 (Belgian) Squadron (formed November 1942). By June 1943, some 400 Belgian pilots were serving with the RAF. Initially part of the air defense of Great Britain, both squadrons later served in the campaign in northwestern Europe supporting 21st Army Group with No. 83 and No. 84 Groups of the R.A.F. The British air raid on Gestapo headquarters in Copenhagen on March 22, 1945 was led by a Belgian Wing Commander, Michael Donnet. Altogether, some 1,200 Belgians served in the R.A.F. The Belgian Squadrons flew Spitfires operationally with the RAF. No. 350 Squadron claimed some 51 kills during its existence.

Forgotten Allies Vol. 1, J. Lee Ready, Jefferson: McFarland and Co., 1985.
Foreign Volunteers of the Allied Forces 1939-45, Nigel Thomas, London: Osprey, 1998.

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