N° 350 Squadron, the Bravest since 1941
N° 350 Squadron celebrated its 70th anniversary on 10 November 2011 and adorned its Lockheed Martin F-16AM FA-68 with a special colour scheme vertical tail fin for the occasion. The port side shows a stylised lark’s wing, like the ancient Belgian warrior on the squadron’s badge is wearing a pair on its helmet. The main events in the unit’s history are listed on the tail’s starboard side, as are the words “Fortissimi since 1941”, which are based on its motto “Belgian Gallorum fortissimi” as written by Julius Caesar in his “De Bello Gallico” on the Gallic Wars.
No. 350 (Belgian) Squadron was formed at Valley on 12 November 1941 as the first Belgian-manned fighter squadron in the RAF and became operational on Spitfire IIA on 22 December. In April 1942 it moved south to start combat operations over northern France. During the war it participated in among others Operation Jubilee, the landing in Dieppe on 19 August 1942, and Operation Overlord, the landing in Normandy on 6 June 1944. Later on it was engaged in intercepting V1 flying bombs over England and in supporting the advancing Allied armies in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. After the war, No. 350 Squadron was part of the occupation forces in Germany until is was transferred to the control of the Belgian Air Force on 15 October 1946.
For half a century No. 350 Squadron operated from Beauvechain Air Base. In 1996 it moved to its present home base, Florennes. It subsequently flew on Supermarine Spitfire XIV, Gloster Meteor F.4 and F.8, Hawker Hunter F.4, Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck Mk.5, Lockheed F-104G Starfighter and Lockheed Martin F-16A Fighting Falcon.
After half a century of Cold War training, No. 350 Squadron resumed participating in real operations from 1996 onwards: Operation Decisive Endeavour in Yugoslavia from October 1996 till June 1998, Operation Deliberate Guard in Yugoslavia from June 1998 till June 2001, Operation Allied Force in Bosnia and Kosovo from March till June 1999, Operation Eastern Eagle in Afghanistan from July 2005 till January 2006, Operation Guardian Falcon in Afghanistan from September 2008 till today and Operation Unified Protector in Libya from 21 March till 31 October 2011.
© Jos Schoofs
additional pic by Yves Duwelz (November 2011)
Last updated 07/11/11 10:59 Daniel Brackx