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The Airmen's Stories - S/Ldr. L G Belchem


Lawrence George Belchem was born on 5th October 1910 in Kent. His parents were Lt. Col. Howard Matthew Belchem (1878-1915) and Margaret Belchem (nee Comer 1879-1922).

His father was killed on 19th March 1915 serving with 1st/5th Northumberland Fusiliers and lies in Ramparts cemetery, Lille Gate in Ypres.

LG Belchem attended Crewkerne School. He went on to the RAF College Cranwell in September 1928 as a Flight Cadet. He graduated in December 1930 and was posted to 19 Squadron at Duxford.

On 4th June 1933 Belcham went to 204 (Flying Boat) Squadron at Plymouth and moved to 3 FTS Grantham on 3rd July 1934 as an instructor.

His next posting was to a course at RAF Gosport on 1st September 1935.

He married Irene Clements in early 1935 in Cardiff.

On 23rd October 1936 he joined 824 (Fleet Spotter-Reconnaissance) Squadron, based on HMS Hermes in the Far East.

Belchem went to 5 OTU on 7th June 1940 for a refresher course. He flew only one operational sortie during the Battle of Britain period, a convoy patrol with 264 Squadron on 18th July 1940, with Sgt. A Berry as gunner. He was not on the strength of the squadron for this sortie.

He is recorded as being injured during an air raid on Martlesham Heath on 15th August 1940.

Belchem was killed over 14/15th July 1942 as a Squadron Leader with 119 Squadron, operating in Catalinas from Lough Erne. His Catalina, AH545, failed to return from an Atlantic Patrol.

It was this aircraft, with a different crew, that had spotted the German battleship Bismarck on 26th May 1941.

Belchem is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 65.

Also lost in AH545 were:

P/O A Fennel
F/Sgt. JE Bacon
F/Sgt. SL Beamont
F/Sgt. RC Graham
F/Sgt. JN Tew
Sgt. P Bray
Sgt. CW Cooke
Sgt. AHT Davies
Sgt. WR Norley



His brother Captain John Belchem was killed on 11th February 1942 serving with the 2nd Battalion, 16th Punjab Regiment and is commemorated on the Singapore Memorial.




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