TEXT: JEAN BUZIN
TRANSLATED BY DIDIER WAELKENS
“A man of character, he was modest in peace, as he was brave in battle.”
When No. 160 (Belgian) Wing was formed at Fassberg, Germany,
during the first months of 1946, which re-grouped No. 350 and
No. 349 (Belgian) fighter squadrons RAF, Wing Commander Daniel Le Roy du Vivier (DFC) was summoned to take its command.
This was one of the great Belgian personalities in the RAF who thus introduced a line of
Corps Commanders that for half a century
would command this unit, becoming the 1st
Fighter Wing on February 1, 1948.
Daniel Le Roy du Vivier, familiarly known
as “Boy” by his comrades in arms, was an
unusual personality. Born in Amersfoort
(NL) on January 13, 1915, he studied Greco-Latin humanities at the Jesuit College of
Mont-Godinne before taking a degree in commercial and consular sciences at the University of Louvain.
Pilot in the “Aéronautique Militaire”
His studies were interrupted by the call to
arms: on August 1, 1935, he was drafted as
a militia soldier into the 1st Regiment of Guides (army). Attracted by aviation, he asked
to join the Aéronautique Militaire (military
aeronautics/aviation) and on April 1, 1937,
signed up as a student pilot. He was attached to the 75th Class.
He was commissioned on March 15, 1938,
and was initially posted to the 1st Aeronauti-
cal Regiment at Gossoncourt as an observation pilot flying the Fairey Fox. On September 14, 1938, he joined the 2nd Aeronautical
Regiment at Nivelles as a fighter pilot on the
Having become a candidate second lieutenant, 1939 and the first months of 1940 saw
him in Evere (close to Brussels), undergoing
his weapons training and completing the observer course. His training was somewhat
disrupted because at the end of the decade,
the international horizon was rapidly darkening. On September 1, 1939; German troops invaded Poland They would only make
mincemeat of it. France and England, the
guarantor powers of Polish independence, declared war on Nazi Germany, but did
not react. The Phoney War, marked, only by
sporadic air operations, set in. In Belgium,
mobilisation was decreed. The eight-month
period leading up to the invasion of the
country was punctuated by several heightened alerts.
The Belgian authorities still wanted to believe that the belligerents respected our
Photo: collection Deman via A. Bar.
January 13, 1915 — September 2, 1981
neutrality, but our airspace was regularly violated by British and German aircraft.
Our fighter squadrons policed the skies,
attempted to intercept and force intruders
to land at our airfields, rarely with success.
1. On September 9, British Whitley bombers
were reported over the Ardennes, and the
pilots at Nivelles were alerted. A patrol
consisting of a Fairey Fox piloted by captain
Boussa and two Fairey Fireflies piloted by
Daniel Le Roy du Vivier and Marcel Michotte,
intercepted one of the English bombers in
the vicinity of Gembloux. Our aircraft flanked
the intruder. The leader fired a burst of tracer bullets in front of the bomber's nose to
force it to land. It was in vain, and better yet,
the tail gunner returned the favour and fired
at our aircraft, hitting Daniel Le Roy du Vivier's Firefly. Fortunately, he was not wounded and was able to reach Nivelles safely...
Daniel Le Roy du Vivier was promoted to
warrant officer CSLA on March 1,1940. Still in
training, he continued his flying duties on the
Firefly while, in the meantime, his original
unit, the 4/II/21), which with the 3/II/2 constitute the "Cocottes" Group, was re-equipped
with the Fiat CR.42. On May 10, 1940, the “Cocottes” under the command of Major Lamarche took off at dawn and reached Brustem,
the Group's home base.
Although credited with a few victories, the
Group saw almost all of its potential destroyed on the ground during the first two days