The Airmen's Stories - P/O G Dieu
Giovanni Ernest Fernand Dieu was born on 12th August 1907 in Chatelineau, east of Charleroi, Belgium. After leaving school and as per normal practice at the time he served in a unit of the Belgian Army before transferring to the air arm in 1927. He obtained his civil pilot's licence at the school at Gosselies and then qualified as a military pilot at Wevelghem, passing out as a Corporal on 31st May 1928. He served with the 1st Air Regiment throughout the 1930's and was then posted to the 3rd Air Regiment as Adjutant in 1937.
At the time of the German attack in May 1940 he was a Lieutenant at the main flying school at Wevelghem.
Along with many of his colleagues he withdrew to France to continue the fight from there and from 26th May to 12th June 1940 he was based at Tours as a ferry pilot, moving to Bordeaux on the 13th June.
To avoid capture under the approaching French collapse Dieu and his colleagues Philippart , Gonay and Buchin made their way to Bayonne and boarded the Dutch ship 'MS Koningin Emma' ( 'Queen Emma') which took them to Plymouth where they landed on 23rd June.
Dieu was processed through a reception centre and commissioned in the RAF as a Pilot Officer on 12th July 1940, going the same day to 5 OTU Aston Down to convert to Blenheims. On 3rd August 1940 he was posted to 236 Squadron.
He served with 236 for the remainder of the Battle and on till 4th August 1941 when he joined 609 Squadron at Gravesend. He made two claims while flying Spitfire Vb AB975 with 609, the first was a Me109F on 27th September 1941 over Mardyck and then a Fw190 on 8th March 1942 during a fighter sweep in the Dunkirk area.
He went to 245 Squadron in August 1942 and later was appointed to the Belgian Flying School in the UK. By the war's end he was with the Belgian liason office of the RAF based at Eaton Square, London as a Squadron Leader.
Dieu was awarded an Air Force Cross on 13th November 1945.
He was formally discharged from the RAF on 1st October 1946 and returned to Belgium, joining the newly reformed Belgian Air Force. He retired in August 1954 and passed away on 26th October 1978 at his home in the Woluwe St. Lambert area of Brussels.