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 UK 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 a rotation at RAF Rochford carrying out operations over France. The second squadron No. 349 (Belgian) arrived in October 1943 and would for the most, carry out similar operations 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.

While it would be a while before the BAF put in an appearance, from the mid-50s onwards a considerable number of Percival Pembrokes would pass through SEN 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, two Belgian Air Force Hercules would freight in a former BAF F-86F Thunderstreak for the Southend Historical Aircraft Museum 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 small list of some of the known 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 Do27 – L-24

1/3/65 – Dornier Do27 – OLD-04

1/3/65 – Dornier Do27 – 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

?/2/75 – Percival Prentice – RM-7

?/4/75 – Aerospatiale Puma – OLG-01

?/7/76 – Dornier Do27 – 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 saadinfomail@gmail.com

Many thanks from the SAAD Admin Team.