Royal Air Force Air Cadets from 121 ( Nuneaton ) Squadron and cadets from other units within the Warwickshire & Birmingham Wing joined cadets from 2433 (Ramsgate) Squadron at a service to commemorate the Belgian World War II RAF fighter pilot Baron Jean de Selys Longchamps notable for his attack in 1943 on the Gestapo headquarters in Brussels in occupied Belgium.
The Air Cadet Band of 2433 (Ramsgate) Squadron and Cadets from the Warwickshire & Birmingham Wing contingent (who were on annual camp at the Defence Fire Training and Development Centre Manston) led the parade of standards, ex-service contingents and members of Baron Jean de Selys Longchamps family as they marched through the Minster Cemetery to the graveside for the service of Commemoration.
A piper then led the Standard and escorts of 3 Squadron Royal Air Force onto parade
Also present were the Chief of Defence of the Belgian Air Force, representatives of the RAF 3 and 609 squadrons with whom the baron flew, Royal British Legion standard bearers from across east Kent , Thanet district councillors and Minster parish councillors, Belgian Wings of Memory members and other dignitaries.
More than 20 wreaths carried by the Air Cadets were laid at the grave and there was a flypast by a Typhoon from 3 Squadron RAF and 2 F-16's from the Belgian Air Force. Children from Minster and Monkton schools also scattered poppies over the cemetery's war graves.
Wings of Memory chairman Chris Van Heghe said the occasion was important for both Britain and Belgium the airman he served with and his family.
He added: We are very happy to see that his memory still lives on and that people are interested in what we are doing, we are very grateful that the people of Britain are helping us with the commemoration. It's always important to remember, to make sure people who fought in the conflict are not forgotten, what they did and achieved for our freedom and liberty is recognised.
Baron Jean de Selys Longchamps who forged papers so he was able to join the RAF, flew out of RAF Manston with number 3 and 609 squadrons.
He is remembered for his rebellious actions of bravery which are legendary in Belgium . He is best known for his air strike on the Gestapo headquarters located at 453 Avenue Louise in Brussels on 20 January 1943, which led to his demotion from Flight Lieutenant to Pilot Officer for acting without orders, but he was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions.
Among the baron's remaining relatives who journeyed to Minster for the ceremony was his niece, Sybille, who was just one when he was killed. She said: I have never seen his grave and it was quite emotional to see it for the first time. He helped to save Europe and it's very good to see that so many young people are helping to keep his memory alive.
Baron de Selys Longchamps was killed on the 16 th August 1943 when his aircraft crashed on landing at RAF Manston after a sortie over Ostend when his aircraft is thought to have been hit by flak.
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