The Air Force Chapel - The National Basilica Brussels

The Air Force Chapel - The History of the Chapel


The Chapel was the result of result of an initiative in late 1987 by the Royal Air Forces Association Belgian Branch under the Chairmanship of Bob Walkden.  This initiative resulted in the commissioning of the beautiful Anglo-Belgian Air Forces Stained Glass Memorial Windows, that adorn the Chapel, in memory of Belgian Members of the Royal Air Force and those who died in the cause of liberty and freedom.

The initial aim for the project was to raise 400,000 BF.  However over 1.500,000 BF was raised enabling the creation of the special Air Force chapel with stained-glass windows, memorial glass panels, the RAF blue carpet, an illuminated ‘Golden Book’ (the Roll of Honour) with the names of those Belgian airmen who died in the service of the Royal Air Force, as well the plaques of 23 RAF Squadrons on which Belgians served in WW2.


The Chapel was then dedicated in the presence of King Baudouin in September 1988  as commemorated on the plaque on the right hand wall of the Chapel.


On the 25th Anniversary of the Chapel in September 2013, a commemorative service was held in the presence of the Senior Belgian (General Van Caelenberge) and Royal Air Force (Air Marshall Sir Christopher Harper) representatives in Belgium at that time, as remembered by the plaque on the left side wall of the Chapel (A number of photos of this ceremony can be seen here).  At this very moving ceremony the following wreaths were laid by example of the breadth of interest, feeling and involvement:

Gp Capt Dick Whittingham – Chairman RAFA Belgian Branch on behalf of the Royal Air Force

Major Olivier Van Eeckhoudt – on behalf of Belgian Air Force – Belgian Air Component

Lieutenant General Wilfried de Brouwer – President ‘Vieilles Tiges de Belge

Lieutenant General Guido Vanhecke – President Belgian Air Forces Association

Comtesse Brigitte d’Oultremont – President Comet Kinship

Mr John Clinch –  World War II Escape Lines Memorial Society

Comte Arnould d’Oultremont – President ‘Fraternelle des Agents Parachutistes

Brigadier Andrew Fisher – President Royal British Legion Brussels Branch

Colonel Michel Coles – 2nd Tactical Wing Florennes Base Commander on behalf of “The Spitfire Museum Florennes

Mr Richard Hearn on behalf of his father Sqn Ldr Edward Hearn in memory of the loss of 50 Sqn Lancaster in Normandy on 7 August 1944

Flight Lieutenant Bobby Laumans – 74 Sqn Association

Mr Roly Still – 75 New Zealand Sqn Association 

Lieutenant-Colonel Sam Verheire –  Commanding Officer 349 Sqn

Lieutenant-Colonel Thierry Closset – Commanding Officer 350 Sqn

Mr Doug Mitchell – 466 Royal Australian Air Force Sqn Association

Mr Wilfred Burie - 550 Squadron RAF North Killingholme Association

Adjudant Omer Vanden Bosch  - on behalf of ‘Wings Of Memory’ and in special memory of all lost aircrews

Mr Pierre Michiels – in memory of Lancaster DS690 lost at La Cornette 13 July 1943

Mr Marc Lambotte – in memory of Halifax JD371 lost at Survillers 28 August 1943

Mr Guy De Braeckeleer - President of the "Association du Mémorial de Rebecq" marking the loss of Lancaster LL810 at Rebecq 27 May 1944

Sgt Mark Lawson  – on behalf of Mr Léon Boulet President of the "Mémorial Canadien du Tigelot”  marking the loss of Halifax MX829 at Le Tigelot 2 November 1944

At this event it was noted that only 23 of the many RAF squadrons on which Belgians served, were represented by shields in the Chapel, and that the full history of those who served was relatively unknown.


A further dedication was held on 29th April 2014 to reflect research that 141 RAF squadrons at one time or another had Belgian aircrew serving on them during World War II.  The Committee therefore decided to expand the representations of Squadrons by a further 12 to a total of 35, capturing those Squadrons who had 5 or more Belgians serving on them.  In addition a further plaque on the outside of the Chapel (as the Chapel is often locked) was commissioned to detail some of the history to visitors with a link to this website for further information.  

This website aims to provide a virtual mechanism to honour the complete number of 141 Squadrons and personnel, with virtual links and  imagery.