Belgian Air Force (BAF)

Operated to SEN from c.1954 to c.1980

Having had their country overrun by the Germans in 1940, many Belgians including pilots and military service personnel managed to make their way to the U.K. from where they would continue their fight against this Axis foe. While most Belgian pilots were initially given ferry fight duties or dispatched overseas, the RAF eventually formed two Belgian squadrons, the first of these becoming operational during the latter part of 1941. Eventually in April 1942, No. 350 (Belgian) Squadron would make the move to Essex where they would initially operate from RAF Debden and from September to November spent part of their rotation at RAF Rochford from where they carried out operations over France. The second squadron No. 349 (Belgian) arrived in October 1943 and would for the most, perform similar duties to those of their sister squadron. Needless to say, in the minds of many Belgian pilots who would later go on to serve with the BAF, a close relationship with Southend had already been established during this time.

While it would be a while before the post-war BAF put in an appearance at SEN, from the mid-50s onwards a considerable number of Percival Pembrokes would pass through Southend for customs clearance while on delivery flights to Belgium. However, visits by other BAF aircraft commenced in the early ’60s and would become an ever increasing occurrence at Southend, finally culminating during the late 1970s. Amongst the more interesting flights were two Belgian Air Force Hercules which freighted in a former BAF F-86F Thunderstreak for the Southend Historical Aircraft Museum to act as a memorial of sorts, commemorating the pilots and the squadrons that had flown from Rochford during WWII. You can read more about this event by clicking here. Below you will find a list of some of the recorded visits that were made to SEN by the BAF:

23/6/54 – Percival Pembroke – RM-4

6/7/54 – Percival Pembroke – RM-5

10/8/55 – Percival Pembroke – RM-7

19/8/55 – Percival Pembroke – RM-10

20/8/55 – Percival Pembroke – RM-11

20/8/55 – Percival Pembroke – RM-12

24/8/55 – Percival Pembroke – RM-8

25/8/55 – Percival Pembroke – RM-9

11/11/59 – De Havilland Devon – D-21

23/11/59 – De Havilland Devon – D-22

23/8/61 – Dornier Do 27 – L-24

28/3/62 – Dornier Do 27 – D-1

28/3/62 – Dornier Do 27 – D-2

28/3/62 – Dornier Do 27 – D-4

3/4/62 – Dornier Do 27 – D-2

1/3/65 – Dornier Do 27 – OLD-04

1/3/65 – Dornier Do 27 – OLD-11

1/10/65 – Aerospatiale Alouette – OLA-17

?/6/72 – Percival Pembroke – RM-06

20/3/73 – Percival Pembroke – RM-7

14/11/73 – Lockheed Hercules – CH-09

14/11/73 – Lockheed Hercules – CH-11

21/1/74 – Lockheed Hercules – CH-02

15/3/74 – Dassault Mystere – CM-01

12/2/75 – Percival Pembroke – RM-7

?/4/75 – Aerospatiale Puma – OLG-01

?/7/76 – Dornier Do 27 – D-06

?/3/78 – Britten Norman Islander – B-10

?/3/79 – H.S. 748 Andover – CS-02

?/7/79 – Britten Norman Islander – B-05


Do you have any other, interesting snippets of information about this air force’s SEN history or indeed any pictures that you would like to share? If so, then please contact us on

Many thanks from the SAAD Admin Team.