Flying colours

EYEWITNESS

A Belgian fighter pilot hero and his unique museum memorial

When Pilot Officer Daniel ‘Danny’ Le Roy du Vivier heard the Scramble bell clanging at RAF Tangmere on September 2, 1940, he ran to his Hurricane and took off with 43 Squadron as the Luftwaffe advanced across southern English skies.

Locked in combat with Bf 109s, cannon fire cracked around him. Suddenly he heard a bang and realised his aircraft was so badly damaged he’d have to bale out. It wasn’t for the first time he’d found himself in peril as he drifted to the ground. After landing with a thump, the 25-year-old was picked up and rushed to a casualty clearing station at Benenden, Kent. His Hurricane, serial P3903, hit the ground almost 20 miles away near Old Romney.

Daniel Le Roy du Vivier was born in the Netherlands to a Dutch mother and Belgian father and had not been in England for long. He’d served with Belgium’s 4/IIe Groupe de Chasse and it was on May 11 that he was first shot down, to be taken prisoner by his own countrymen, who mistakenly believed he was German. Four days later, his unit was posted to France and, when the country surrendered, he fled south, escaping to Liverpool in July.

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