Henri Picard, one of the fifty victims of the Great Escape at Stalag Luft III.
( Fred Langtree - Serge Bonge)



Among the victims of the tragedy of Stalag Luft III was a Belgian whose death strikes a bitter blow at the Belgian Air Force in Great Britain.

Henri Picard, an RAF Flight Lieutenant, was originally an officer in the Belgian Army and had graduated from th Ecole Militaire in 1938.He was amongst the first group of Belgian soldiers to arrive in Great Britain after the tragic events of May 1940. In July that year, he landed in England by way of France and Morocco. By 1941 he was attached to the Belgian 350 Squadron, which in the Dieppe raid destroyed 7 German planesfor certain and one probably, and in addition damaged a dozen others. His victories as well as his brilliant general ability won from him the Croix de Guerre with two palms, wich he received on the 21st July 1942 during the Belgian National Day ceremonies. Shortly afterwards, on the 27th August he was reported missing from an air battle over the Abbeville region. He was part of a fighter escort, protecting the rear of the bomber formation with 3 of his fellow pilots. 20 Focke Wulf 190s came up to attack the allied machines and Picard and the two other pilots endeavoured to intercept them. Fierce fighting took place, in wich the enemy was favoured by numbers and by the fact that the sun was in his rear. Picard's plane was hit and he had to bale out over the sea. Although seriously wounded in one leg, he succeeded in seating himself in his dinghy. But his trials were by no means over. He drifted for five days and six nights in his tiny craft, buffeted by two storms and suffering from his wound as well as from hunger and thirst. Finally when he was almost delirous and utterly exausted, his dinghy was thrown up on the French coast and he fell into Germans hands. Only a man endowed with his outstanding physical and mental qualities could have survived such an ordeal. He slowly recoverd from his wounds and in his last letter expressed the hope that he would be free to fight again. After recovery of his wounds, he was send to Stalag Luft III. During the preparation of the evasion, Henri was part of the team of F/Lt Walenn who copied real ID papers and passes. The evasion tooking place during the night of 24th/25th March, Henri Picard was recaptured at Scheidemuhl and was murdered on 29th March 1944 by Hauptmann Reinholt Bruchardt from the Danzig Gestapo, who was traced in 1948 and sentenced to death but later commuted to 21 years of imprisonment. Henri Picard's body was cremated at Danzig and burried at Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery.A memorial plaque for Henri Picard was inaugurated at Beauvechain Airbase on 1 December 1951 during the 10th anniversary celebrations of the Squadron.