The Inauguration Ceremony
Allan Hillman; no reproduction without permission, please. )

Valley             10.2.42


The Squadron - 6 sections in formation with 2 reserve Sections - flew to Northolt for the Inauguration Ceremony, leaving Valley at 12.30 hrs, refuelling at Atcham and arriving at Northolt at 15.00 hrs.


Northolt         11.2.42


The train party consisting of the remaining officers and the Belgian ground personnel travelled to Northolt.


Northolt         12.2.42


In the morning the inauguration ceremony took place in the presence of Sir Archibald Sinclair, Mr Gutt, Minister of National Defence in the Belgian Government, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, Sir Sholto Douglas and of numerous high officers of the British, Belgian and Allied forces. The Squadron was inspected by Sir Archibald Sinclair and received at the hands of the Belgian Minster of National Defence, a Belgian Air Force Standard smuggled back from Belgium by Belgian pilots after being hidden since the German invasion. Officers recently commissioned in the Belgian Air Force took the oath of allegiance and two British and one Belgian Officer were decorated with the Croix de Guerre. The ceremony ended with the Squadron marching past preceded by the R.A.F. band and the “clique” (bugles and drums) of a Belgian Army Unit. Afterwards a display of formation flying was given by the Squadron. The inauguration was then celebrated in the Officer’s Mess at Northolt where an excellent buffet lunch was served. At night a dinner was given at the Savoy Hotel to the Belgian Pilots serving with the R.A.F. which the English Officers of the Squadron also attended. The dinner was presided over by Mr Camille Gutt, Minister of National Defence and among the guests were Lieutenant General Van Strydonck de Durkel, Colonel Wouters, Wing-Commander Rankin, D.S.O. D.F.C. and Squadron Leader Ritchie, D.F.C.


Valley             13.2.42


The train party travelled back to Valley and the squadron flew back to Valley direct, leaving Northolt at 13.50 hrs and arriving at 15.15 hrs.