It all started with a photograph

On Saturday 15 December 2012 whilst at The RAF Club, Piccadilly, London - for the book launch of “Blood, Sweat and Valour” by Steve Brew - Joss Leclercq mentioned to Serge Bonge and Allan Hillman that he had a photograph of a Belgian Spitfire marked MN-Z. When checked against Squadron data it emerged that the picture was that of Spitfire LF IX MH428, flown by F/O Georges Duchesne, and lost on 30 January 1944.  In commemoration of Georges Duchesne we dedicate this page to his memory


 (At The RAF Club, Piccadilly, London,15 December 2012)


Duchesne Georges F.G.  (RAF n° 132975)

 

Knight's Cross in the Order of Leopold with Palm, Belgian Croix de Guerre 1940 (Posthumous), Croix des Evadés, Volunteer Medal 1939-1945 (Posthumous), The Belgian Commemorative Medal of the War 1940-45,  1939-1945 Star, Air Crew Europe Star, War Medal 1939-1945, ...

 
(André Bar Collection) 

Born at Seraing-sur-Meuse (Liège) on 11 May 1916. Member of Aé Mil before the War. Evaded from Belgium on 1 March 1942, and arrived in the UK on 20 (or 21!) August 1942 by aircraft from Lisbon. Enlisted as P/O into the Belgian Section of the RAF on 10 November 1942. Sent for training with 5 PAFU (17/11/1942), AFU (23/12/1942) and 61 OTU (09/02/1943). Posted to 350 Squadron on 6 April 1943, and was promoted F/O (war sub) on 11 May 1943. When flying a Ranger to St. Omer on 30 January 1944 his Spitfire LF IX MH428 MN-Z was hit by flak, and he crashed and was killed. He was first buried in the Parish Cemetery at St. Marie-Kerque and was transferred to the Evere Cemetery (Pelouse d'honneur à la Force Aérienne) on 5 September 1950.
 


Form 540

Hornchurch 30.1.44

Fine but with low ground Fog. The aerodrome U/S for landings but taking off was possible.

RAMROD 499

The wing acted as First Fighter Sweep over GILZE RIJEN before arrival of Fortresses who were on their way to bomb Germany. The wing cannot take off. In the afternoon Ranger Operation are allowed in the LILLE and COURTRAI area. The Rangers were put forward and accepted.

 

RANGER 7                            Time 15.15 – 16.50 (down time is shown as 16.55 below!?)

 

P/O  Van Wersch          F/Lt Collignon                        F/O Duchesne

 

The route was FURNES-S.W. DEYNZE-LILLE-LENS-ST OMER CALAIS. The coast was crossed north of NIEUPOORT from then to TOURNAI where Blue 1 fired on Barges and on to LENS ST. OMER. Very concentrated light A/A was experienced from ST OMER to Coast. At ST.OMER Blue 3 fired on Building where he saw German Soldiers and Lorries. He also fired on a gun post at CALAIS. Blue 4, F/O DUCHESNE has not been seen since ST OMER and is reported missing.

Form 541

RANGER 7


MH491      P/O A VAN WERSCH       15.15   16.55

MJ253       F/L L COLLIGNON           15.15   16.55

MH428      F/O G DUCHESNE         Very concentrated light A/A was experienced from ST. OMER

                                                            BLUE 4 F/O DUCHESNE has not been seen since ST. OMER

 Circumstantial report by F/L L C Collignon O.C. “B” Flight / 350 (Belgian) Squadron

“On the 30th January, 1944 I was engaged on a Ranger towards Courtrai – Tournai – Lille. I was flying Blue 3 and F/O Duchesne as Blue 4, we were returning to base. P/O Duchesne was flying on Echelon Port at 100 yards and we were flying at 0 feet at 280 M.P.H. near St. Omer we experienced intense light flak and suddenly I noticed that Blue 4 had disappeared. I at once turned back calling Blue 4, but received no answer (16.30Hrs). I called him two or three times and then Control endeavoured to contact him.”
 


 Spitfire LF IX MH428 MN-Z – in service with 350 (Belgian) Squadron 1 January–30 January 1944

 


 
Approximate location of the crash site

Map data © 2012 Google


 

Sub-Prefect of St. Omer

             to

Mr. Prefect of Pas-de-Calais

CABINET

I have the honour to confirm to you that an English fighter plane has fallen on the territory of the commune of Sainte-Marie-Kerque, on Sunday, 30 January 1944 at 16h45.

The pilot of this aircraft was found dead.

The Mayor of St. Marie-Kerque informs me that he immediately advised the German Authorities.

Sub Prefect

 

The document supplied by Joss Leclercq is © copyright of Archives Départementales du Pas-de-Calais documents (ADPdC) and is not to be reproduced without their permission.


His grave at the Parish Cemetery at St. Marie-Kerque


(Collection J-L Roba)

 

 

Compiled with the assistance of Serge Bonge, Allan Hillman, Joss Leclercq and Guido van Roy