Tuesday, 19 August 2008

A Hero

A small monument of a golden pilot is on Avenue Louise, the scene of a heroic attack on the morning of January 20th, 1943 from lone Belgian pilot, Baron Jean de Selys Longchamps. This was the culmination of his dogged desire to fight the Germans wherever he could.

After the Belgian surrender, the Baron fought his way to the Dunkirk evacuation and immediately returned to France to fight. After their capitulation he went to Morocco, where he was arrested and imprisoned in an internment camp. He escaped over the Pyrenees into Spain and onto Britain where he joined the RAF.

He had asked permission for an attack on the Gestapo HQ in Avenue Louise but got no response, so when on mission over Flanders, he diverted his Typhoon, flew low over Brussels and let rip with cannon fire at the Gestapo HQ at 453 Avenue Louise, threw out a Belgian flag and Union Jack and raced home as fast as he could. Up to 30 Gestapo officers died.

The British demoted him for disobedience and gave him the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery. Sadly he died 18 months later, returning from a sortie over Ostend.

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