Circus 178 a Black Day for 350 (Belgian) Squadron.
(
© Allan Hillman; no reproduction without permission, please. )

 

RAF Form 540

Debden 1.6.42

 

An early morning show was to have been held but it was postponed until mid-day. 12 a/c took off to act with the rest of the Wing as Target Support in a CIRCUS when 8 Hurribombers were to attack BRUGES. The English Coast was crossed at DEAL and the Wing proceeded to THOUROUT, then turned and came out at BLANKENBERGH. The Squadron was at 23,000 feet and about 20 FW 190’s were seen. Blue Section was heavily engaged and became separated from the rest of the Squadron. Blue 2 came back alone and Blue 3 and 4 are missing, together with White 4.

 

Visibility was excellent with about 2/10ths cloud.


12 a/c took off 12.52 hours

8 landed base 14.30 hours

1 landed MANSTON 14.30 hours

3 N.Y.R.              (F/O LAUMANS ) missing

                         (F/SGT LIVYNS )     ‘’

                         (SGT HANSEZ )       ‘’
 

1 FW 190 destroyed by F/Lt du MONCEAU whose report follows.

 

F/Lt du MONCEAU and his section had been attacked on three occasions, on each of which he had opened fire at separate E/A without noticing results. Finally as he was giving a MAYDAY call for a Spitfire pilot who had bled out he was attacked by one of 3 FW 190’s. He says, “I managed to evade him for some time but as he was getting very close, I throttled right back, did a sort of half climbing roll, skidding violently, more or less aileron turned myself out of it to find E/A on my right and in front turning left. E/A passed in front of me and I then gave him a short burst from nearly the beam with 3 rings deflection. E/A did not acknowledge the burst at first but as I turned left behind him, I saw him dive more and more steeply and to my amazement, crash into the sea about 4 miles away from the Continental Coast. I must have been halfway between DUNKIRK and NIEUPORT. I claim this aircraft as destroyed.

P/O SPRAGUE, No. 71 (Eagle) Squadron saw this E/A go into the sea and thus confirm
F/Lt du MONCEAU’s claim.

 

The squadron unfortunately lost three good pilots. F/O LAUMANS (BLUE 3) was last seen near OSTEND chasing a FW 190 which had shot down a Spitfire. F/SGT LIVYNS (Blue 4), became separated from the rest of his Section over OSTEND but as they were not then being attacked he must have just lost his No 3. SGT HANSEZ (White 4) was last seen trying to bridge the gap between his and White 2 left when White 3 was forced to turn back owning to engine trouble before reaching the Belgian Coast. The DEBDEN Wing suffered badly  9 a/c were missing from the Wing altogether but the pilot of one was rescued.

 

At 17.35 hours 8 a/c of the Squadron took off to act with the rest of the Wing as escort to 112 Bostons in an attack on FLUSHING, Rendezvous was made at MARTLESHAM at 18.00 hours at 500 feet. FLUSHING was reached at 18.35 hours at 14,000 feet and fairly heavy flak was experienced although it was not at the right height. The bombs were seen to explode in the port area. All the Squadron aircraft were back at base by 19.30 hours.

 

RAF Form 541

 

CIRCUS 178. DEBDEN Wing acted as target support to attack on BRUGES by 8 Hurribombers. Coast crossed at DEAL. Wing proceeded to THOUROUT and came out at BLANKENBERGHE, at 23,000 feet  20 FW 190’s seen.

Blue Section heavily engaged.

W/Cdr GORDON, F/O LAUMANS, F/SGT LIVYNS and SGT HANSEZ are missing while one FW 190 was destroyed by F/L du MONCEAU.

 

W/Cdr R A G Gordon, F/Sgt G G A J Livyns and Sgt L J A Hansez were all killed in this operation and F/O R J L Laumans, after drifting for 63 hours in his dinghy, was picked up by the Germans a couple of miles outside Nieuport (Belgium). After spending three days at Coxyde airfield with high fever due to exposure, he was eventually sent to Stalag Luft III at Sagan.