350th Squadron (Belgium)

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No. 350 (Belgian) Squadron RAF
350th Squadron
Royal Air Force Fighter Command, 1939-1945. CH6345.jpg
Spitfires of No. 350 (Belgian) Squadron at RAF Kenley, 1942.
Active 12 November 1941
Country  Belgium
Branch Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg RAF 1941 -1946
Ensign of the Belgian Air Component Air Component
Role Fighter
Part of 2nd Tactical Wing
Garrison/HQ Florennes Air Base
Motto Belgae gallorum fortissimi[note 1]
(Latin, "Of all the Gauls, the Belgians are the bravest")
Fighter Supermarine Spitfire
Insignia
Squadron Badge An ancient Belgian warrior's head with helmet[1]
Squadron Codes MN (Nov 1941 – Oct 1946)

The 350th Squadron (French: 350e escadrille, Dutch: 350ste Smaldeel) is a fighter squadron in the Air Component of the Belgian Armed Forces. It is part of the 2nd Tactical Wing and operates F-16 Fighting Falcons.

It was formed during the Second World War under British command as No. 350 (Belgian) Squadron RAF, passing to Belgium in 1946 along with its sister, No. 349 (Belgian) Squadron.

History[edit]

With the Royal Air Force[edit]

No. 350 Squadron, the first Royal Air Force squadron to be formed by Belgian personnel, was brought into existence in the United Kingdom at RAF Valley in November 1941. The squadron operated the Supermarine Spitfire at first on convoy protection duties over the Irish sea, relocating to RAF Atcham in early 1942. In April 1942 the squadron moved to RAF Debden and carried out offensive operations over France. The squadron moved several times around southern England, in 1944 it provided beach-head patrols during the invasion. In August 1944 the Squadron operated against the V-1 rockets attacking England using the Spitfire XIV. The squadron moved to Belgium in December 1944 to provide offensive patrols over the battlefield including patrols in the Berlin area. The squadron was disbanded on 15 October 1946 on transfer to the Belgian air force.

Aircraft operated during RAF service[edit]

Belgian pilot of No. 350 Squadron on the wing of his Spitfire at RAF Kenley, July 1942. "Luvungi" was a town in the Belgian Congo.
[1][2]
From To Aircraft Variant Notes
Nov 1941 Apr 1942 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.II
Feb 1942 Dec 1943 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vb
Dec 1943 Mar 1944 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX
Mar 1944 Jul 1944 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vb, Vc
Jul 1944 Aug 1944 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX
Aug 1944 Oct 1946 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XIV
Apr 1946 Oct 1946 Supermarine Spitfire LF.XVIe

Commanding officers[edit]

Spitfires of No. 350 Squadron being refueled at RAF Lympne.
[3]
From To Name
Nov 1941 Mar 1942 S/Ldr. J.M. Thompson, DFC
Mar 1942 Dec 1942 S/Ldr. D.A. Guillaume, DFC
Dec 1942 Jan 1944 S/Ldr. A.L.T.J. Boussa
Jan 1944 Mar 1944 S/Ldr. L.O. Prevot
Mar 1944 Oct 1944 S/Ldr. M.G.L. Donnet, DFC
Oct 1944 Jan 1945 S/Ldr. L. Collignon
Jan 1945 Feb 1945 S/Ldr. T. Spencer, DFC
Mar 1945 Apr 1945 S/Ldr. F. Wooley, DFC
Apr 1945 Apr 1945 S/Ldr. T. Spencer, DFC
Apr 1945 Aug 1945 S/Ldr. H. Walmsley
Aug 1945 Oct 1946 S/Ldr. R. Van Lierde, DFC & 2 Bars

Under Belgian command[edit]

F-16AM of 350th Squadron at Florennes, 2009.

In 1946, the squadron was integrated into the Belgian Air Force.

In July 1949, the squadron received its first jet aircraft, the Gloster Meteor mk. 4 and 8. In 1954, they were replaced by Hawker Hunter mk 4s. In 1958, they received the Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck. In August 1964, the unit was given F-104G Starfighters, taking on the role of "Quick Reaction Alert" (QRA) with 349th Squadron.

In 1975, the Starfighters were finally replaced with F-16s, becoming operational with the type in January 1982.

In 1993, 1st Fighter Wing was dissolved and in 1996, the squadron left Beauvechain to join 2nd Tactical Wing in Florennes.

In 1999, the unit participated in Operation Allied Force: the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The motto is an adaptation of a quote from Julius Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico 1.1 where the Belgae are described as the bravest of all the Gauls which the Roman army faced during the Gallic War.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Halley 1988, p. 382.
  2. ^ Jefford 2001, p. 90.
  3. ^ Rawlings 1978, p. 418.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Donnet, Mike and Leon Branders. Ils en étaient! Les Escadrilles Belges de la RAF. Brussels, Belgium: Pierre De Meyere, Editeur, 1979.
  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth, 1918–1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Jefford, Wing Commander C.G., MBE,BA,RAF (Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Lallemant, Lt. Colonel R.A. Rendez-vous avec la chance (in French). Paris: Robert Laffont, 1962.
  • Rawlings, John D.R. Fighter Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 1969 (new revised edition 1976, reprinted 1978). ISBN 0-354-01028-X.

External links[edit]