THE RAF BELGIAN SECTION
1940-1946

BADGES AND INSIGNIA

 

 

Already from the start in 1940 all officers, NCO's and men were incorporated
in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

But it was only on June 4 1942 that their situation was officialised.

 

RANK INSIGNIA

All Belgians wore the British RAF Rank Insignia.

Ranks worn by the Belgian RAF men were :

NCO'S AND MEN

RAF RANK  

ARMY EQUIVALENT

Aircraftman
Leading Aircraftman
Corporal
Sergeant
Flight Sergeant
Warrant Officer
  Private
Lance-Corporal
Corporal
Sergeant
Staff Sergeant
Warrant Officer

 

OFFICERS
RAF RANK   ARMY EQUIVALENT
Pilot Officer
Flying Officer
Flight-Lieutenant
Squadron Leader
Wing-Commander
Group Captain
Air Commodore
  Sub-Lieutenant
Lieutenant
Captain
Major
Lieutenant-Colonel
Colonel
Brigade General

 

Sleeve Insignia General Officers and Staff Officers

Air Commodore, Group Captain, Wing Commander, Squadron Leader

 

Shoulder Strap Insignia General Officers and Staff Officers

Air Commodore, Group Captain, Wing Commander, Squadron Leader

 

Sleeve Insignia Field Officers

Flight Lieutenant, Flying Officer, Pilot Officer

 

Shoulder Strap Insignia Field Officers

Flight Lieutenant, Flying Officer, Pilot Officer

 

 

Sleeve Insignia NCO's

Warrant Officer, Flight Sergeant, Sergeant

 

Sergeant - Pilot BRABANDERS

Flight Sergeant GREBEUDE of 350 Squadron

 

Sleeve Insignia Men

Corporal, Leading Aircraftman

 

Jacket Leading Aircraftman

 

 

HEADGEAR INSIGNIA

Officers wore a Service Dress Cap or a Field Cap.

NCO's and men always wore a Field Cap.

Service Dress Cap
   

Commodore

 

Group Captain

 

Squadron Leader - Pilot Officer

   

Cap Badge Commodore

 

Cap Badge other officers

 

Cap Badge Chaplain

 

 

Pilot Officer DONNET with the cap badge for officers

 

Chaplain BOONE wearing the cap badge
and collar badges for chaplains

 

Field Cap

 

Field Cap with insignia Officers

 

Insignia Officers

 

Badge NCO's and Airmen RAF

  Badge NCO's and Airmen SAAF

Though Belgian NCO's and Airmen had to wear the RAF or SAAF badge on their field cap,
some of them wore the brass Belgian Lion.

Belgian Airman RAF with lion on Field Cap.
Picture taken at Preston, UK, on December 6, 1941.

 

"BELGIUM" ARM TITLE

Officers, NCO's and Airmen wore a "BELGIUM" title.

Light blue capital letters on a dark blue background.

Officers wore a curved arm title, NCO's and Airmen a rectangular arm title.

Arm Title officers, embroidered version.

Arm Title NCO's and Airmen, printed version.
 

 

Belgian RAF Officer with curved "BELGIUM" title

 

Belgian Airman with rectangular "BELGIUM" title

 

AIRCREW BADGES

Pilot Wings

Outstretched wings mostly 10cm from tip to tip.
The wings support a laurel wreath encircling the RAF monogram or the SAAF herladic shield, with above a King's crown.

Pilot Wing RAF

Pilot Wing SAAF
 

   
Belgian Sergeant Pilot VAN MOLKOT with RAF wing.    
   
Battle Dress blouse of Flight Lieutenant ROEL.
He obtained his wing while serving at the S.A.A.F., and was later transferred to the RAF.
   

Some Belgian Pilots were to old for flying duty when they arrived in the United Kingdom.

They were incorporated into the RAF, but not as flying personnel.

Though they didn't fly anymore as a pilot, they were allowed to wear their Belgian wing on the RAF uniform.

Belgian wing as worn on the RAF uniform.
 

Captain CAJOT wearing his Belgian wing and the "VR" collars.

After the War, once reintegrated in the Belgian Air Force,
 Belgian pilots were allowed to wear the "small wing" version of the RAF wing on their uniform.

Normal wing with the small wing beneath.

 

Half brevets

A lot of Belgians obtained one of the following brevets which entitled them to wear the corresponding half wing.

 

Half Wing Observer until 1942

 

Half Wing Navigator from 1942

 

Half Wing Air Gunner

 

Half Wing Air Bomber

 

Half Wing Wireless Operator

 

Half Wing Flight Engineer

Half Wing Radio Observer

 

 
Flying Officer DEBROCK, DFC,
with the Flight Engineer half wing.
  Flying Officer DELBROUCK
with the Navigator half wing.

 

COLLAR BADGES

As far as known only 2 collar badges were worn by the Belgian RAF men.

The first is the "VR" badge, abreviation for Volunteer Reserve.

As was agreed between the Belgian Government in Exile and the British Governent, everybody was incorporated in the RAF Volunteer Reserve.

Normally it meant that the VR badge, brass version, had to be worn on the collars, but this was only done by some.

Most of the RAF men did nor wear the VR collars.

2 versions are known to have been worn by the Belgians :
the embroidered and the brass version.

The embroidered version was worn on both arms.

 
brass version   embroidered version
 
Belgian Pilot Officer wearing the brass version   Baron Silvercruys, Belgian minister to Canada, congratulating Leading Airman VAN WYMERS
on the occasion of the wings ceremony, somewhere in Canada.
Note the "VR" badge beneath the "BELGIUM" title.
Jacket Flight Lieutenant wearing the brass "VR" collar badges.

 

The second known collar badge is the winged RAF cross, worn by the chaplains.

chaplain collar badge

 

SHOULDER EAGLE

All NCO's and airmen wore a pair of shoulder eagles.

A flying eagle in light blue embroidered thread, on a blue-grey rectangle.
For tropical use : a red flying eagle on a khaki rectangle.

Printed version

Embroidered version

Tropical version

 

BREAST POCKET BADGES

4 Breast Pocket Badges are known to have been worn by the Belgian RAF military.

609 (West Riding)Squadron, the two Belgian squadrons 349 & 350, and the Belgian Technical Training School.

 

609 Squadron

349 Squadron

350 Squadron Belgian Technical Training School

Crest 349 Squadron
The crest shows two crossed morning stars.
The morning star is a historic and Belgian national weapon used in 1302 in the Battle of the Golden Spurs
when the Flemish and Walloons defeated the common French enemy.
The Crown is the crown of King George VI.
The motto "TO BE OR NOT TO BE" resumes the meaning the War had for everybody and for Belgium in particular.
The original is kept at the College of Arms
Each member of the squadron, present in June 1944, received a copy of the scroll with crest, signed by King George VI.

 

Copy of the scroll with crest,
as given to each member of 349 Squadron in June 1944.

 

Flying Officer VAN DE VELDE
holding the copy of the scroll of the crest of 349 Squadron

Crest 350 Squadron
The crest was invented by the squadron's Chaplain Clément Boone.
It represents the head of Ambiorix, chieftain of the tribe of Eburons.
The Crown is that of King George VI.
The motto, "Belgae Gallorum Fortissimi" ("Of all the inhabitants of Gaule, the Belgians are the bravest")
is inspired of "The Gaelic War" by Julius Caesar. The original is kept at the College of Arms

Crest Belgian Technical Training School
The design was approuved by the Chester Herald and Inspector of Royal Air Force Badge on July 2 1946.
It consists of the cap badge, composed of a propeller and a cog-wheel, worn by the Belgian technical specialists
of the "Aéronautique Militaire" in 1939-1940.
The motto, "Labor omnia vincit improbus" ("Persistent work overcomes everything") resumes the hard work that was delivered
by the tecnical personnel in maintaining the planes in an utmost condition.
Due to a unknown reason, the first badge was handed over by the British ambassador in Belgium  to the School Commander in July 1947.

July 1947, Parade at Safraanberg at the occasion of the handing over of the first badge.

Technician Willy COULBEAU wearing the pocket badge on the day of his wedding, end 1947.

Crest 12th Bomber Squadron S.A.A.F.
Many Belgian pilots who received their training at the S.A.A.F. were assigned to the 12th S.A.A.F. Bomber Squadron.
They wore the breast pocket badge of the squadron.

12th S.A.A.F. Bomber Squadron

 

 

THE "CLUBS"

3 "clubs" existed during the Second World War.

Qualification for membership depended on a specific act of courage.

 

The "Caterpillar" Club.

The club was founded in 1920 and was reserved exclusively to those who had saved their lives with the Irvin air chutes.

Their names were recorded in the Club Register kept at the premises
of the Irvin Air Chute of Great Britain Limited, Letchworth, England.

Each pilot who communicated his name and date of "jump", received a golden caterpillar with small rubis as eyes.

Red eyes when he bailed out over land, blue eyes when he bailed out over sea.

They wore it under their wings, though it was not an official badge.

RAF Pilot Wing with caterpillar beneath

detail of caterpillar

Flying Officer PRÉVOT, member of the Caterpillar club and the Winged Boot club.
On July 30, 1942 he was shot down above occupied France.
He escaped from his plane and used his Irving Air Chute.
He also escaped from occupied France and returned to Great Britain.

 

The "Flying Boot" Club.

This club was reserved to those who managed to escape from occupied territory after being shot down.

Only a few Belgians had the privilege to become a member of this club.

They wore their badge on the inside of their jacket.

Embroidered Flying Boot as worn on the service-dress jacket

 

The "Goldfish" club.

To be eligible one had to jump out of his plane above sea, or had to crash with his plane into sea.

Once rescued they could apply for membership.

They wore their badge on the inside of their jacket.

Embroidered Goldfish as worn on the service-dress jacket

 

 

Free counter and web stats