|609 Squadron Royal Air Force - the Belgians|
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Updated: 28 Oct 08
During 609 Sqn's time in Normandy and the push up into the Low Countries the Sqn was commanded by three Belgians:
Sqn Ldr Lodewijk Geerts DFC (June-August 1944)
Sqn Ldr Raymond Lallemant DFC (August-September 1944)
Sqn Ldr Charles Demoulin DFC (November-December 1944)
Of the 55 Belgian pilots who served with 609 Sqn during WWII, 15 lost their lives in the squadron, several more were killed whilst serving in other RAF sqns. Those below are believed to have served at RAF Digby. The dates of their time with the Sqn are listed.
André R. Blanco "Le men". 13 Jan 1942 - 31 Oct 1943; 11 Apr 1944 - 30 Oct 1944
Jean M. de Selys Longchamps. 30 Sep 1941 - 13 March 1943. de Selys Longchamps Jean was probably the best known Belgian of 609 Sqn. Originally a cavalry officer he escaped to England to join the RAF. On 29 May 1942 he baled out of his Typhoon R7647 which crashed at Sutton Village (Ely). On 20 Jan 1943, he decided to attack the headquarters of the German Sicherheitsdienst on Avenue Louise in Brussels. At this stage Brussels was out of range for allied fighters by daylight. Although he returned successfully from his attack he was not popular with the chain of command. Posted from the Sqn, he was killed in a flying accident on 16 Aug 1943 in 3 Sqn.
François X.E. de Spirlet. 15 Apr 1941 - 26 Jun 1942. de Spirlet, an experienced Belgian pilot, joined the RAF during the Battle of Britain. He claimed his first victory on 17 Jun 1941 but one week later, on 22 Jun, he was shot down over the Channel and rescued. On 29 Aug he shot down a Me-109. De Spirlet was killed whilst colliding during take off on 26 Jun 1942, crashing in Typhoon R7710 'PR-E'.Giovanni E.F. Dieu DFC. 4 Aug 1941 - 1 Aug 1942. Dieu joined 236 Sqn but was transferred to 609 one year later. On 8 Mar 1942 he claimed a FW 190 near Dunkirk. After his one-year tour on 609 Sqn he was sent to 245 Sqn, and died in 1978.
Count Yvan G. du Monceau de Bergendael DFC "Duke". 10 Apr 1941 - 30 Mar 1942. "Duke" du Monceau was the first Belgian to join 609 Squadron. On 18 Aug 1941 he claimed a Bf 109 near Calais followed by another on 27 Sep Mardijck. On 18 Feb 1942 he successfully intercepted a Do 217 over the Humber and on 8 Mar 1942 he shot down a FW 190 near Cap Griz Nez. Du Monceau was transferred to 350 'Belgian' Sqn in Mar 1942. He died in 1984.
Raymond Lallemant "Cheval" DFC & Bar. 30 Sep 1941 - 24 Jun 1943; 14 Aug 1944 - 14 Sep 1944. Cheval was one of the best Typhoon pilots ever, joining 609 Sqn in the autumn of 1941. He scored his first victory over Deal, on 19 Dec 1942, a second Focke Wulf over Dungeness on 20 Jan 1943 and a third one on 14 Feb over Dover. Lallemant became CO of the Squadron in Aug 1944 , following Manu Geerts. A few weeks later, on 14 Sep 1944, however, his Typhoon PD505 was hit by flak. He managed to fly back to Merville, but on landing he crashed and was severely burned.
Roger Malengreau. 15 May 1941 - 9 Oct 1942. Malengreau was an ex Belgian Air Force pilot who flew in the Battle of Britain and joined 609 Sqn in 1941.
Jean Morai. 4 Aug 1941 - 18 Apr 1942. Jean Morai moved on to 349 'Belgian' Sqn but was taken prisoner on 14 Jun 1944. He flew 118 missions.
José Muller. 21 Jul 1941 - 21 Nov 1941 After his stay in 609 José Muller joined 122 Sqn, and was taken POW on May 17, 1942.
Jean Offenberg DFC "Pyker". 17 Jun 1941 - 22 Jan 1942. "Pyker" was one of the few Belgian pilots who managed to shoot down a German plane during the invasion in May 1940. He joined the RAF, flew during the Battle of Britain, was transferred to 609 where he received the DFC (first Belgian to get this award) and became CO of B-flight. On July 7, 1941 he shot down a Bf 109 near Le Touquet. He was killed when his Spitfire AB188 "PR-Y" collided with a Spitfire of 92 Sq. over Digby (Blankney Heath).
Christian Ortmans. 25 Aug 1941 - 1942. Killed in 615 Sqn on 1 Apr 1943.
Victor Ortmans DFC "Vicky". 12 April 1941 - 1942. Vicky's brother Christian flew during the Battle of Britain in 229 Sqn, where he scored three victories. Vicky was the first Belgian to shoot down an enemy, a Bf 109 over Deal on 21 May 1941. On 4 Jun he claimed another one over Dover and a third Messerschmitt on 30 Jun, near Lille. On 18 Aug he scored another victory. He had to be recovered from the North Sea on three occasions. On the first two it was by a British vessel, but on 21 Oct 1941 he was recovered by a German craft, after dispatching a FW 190. He died flying a a Tiger Moth in 1950.
Louis Van Arenberg. 23 Sep 1941 - 14 Dec 1941. After a short time in 609 Sqn, Louis Van Arenberg became a flying instructor, but was killed near Snailwell in 1945.
Robert Wilmet "Bob". 17 Apr 1941 - 9 Oct 1942. Bob flew during the Battle of Britain, transfering to 349 'Belgian' Sqn but died in Ikeja in 1943.
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