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The Airmen's Stories - P/O J A L Philippart


Jacques Arthur Laurent Philippart was born at Mont-St-Guibert, Belgium on 11th January 1909. A growing interest in aviation caused him to abandon his degree studies after two years and join the Belgian Air Force in 1932.

He was appointed sergeant-pilot and commenced training at Wevelgem, where he was recognised as an outstanding pilot.

Philippart was commissioned on 26th June 1936 and the following year was chosen to represent Belgium at an international meeting in Zurich where his team was ranked in second place.

He was part of the escort to the aircraft taking King Leopold III to the baptism of Princess Beatrice of Holland. For this he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Order of Orange-Nassau by Queen Wilhelmina. During the Belgian national holidays of 1938 and 1939 he performed aerobatics at night over Brussels.

In October 1939 he was sent to RAF Wittering to study British operating procedures and communicate these to Belgian airmen.





Philippart was back in Belgium for the German attack on 10th May 1940 and flew some operational sorties before the remaining Belgian forces withdrew to France, he being appointed as advisor to the Belgian air commander General Legros at Caen.

On the French collapse he made his way with other airmen to the Dutch ship 'Queen Emma' at Bayonne. It sailed for England and they arrived at Plymouth on 23rd June 1940.

On 7th July Philippart went to 7 OTU Hawarden, converted to Hurricanes and joined 213 Squadron at Exeter on the 23rd.

He claimed a Ju88 destroyed on 11th August, destroyed three Me109s and probably a Me110 on the 15th and a Ju88 on the 22nd. He claimed another Ju88 on 25th August but was himself shot down in combat off Portland by Hptm. Mayer of I/JG53. He baled out but was killed, his body being washed ashore three days later.

Philippart was 31. He was buried in Exeter Cemetery (below left) but on 20th October 1949 his remains were exhumed and re-buried in the Pelouse d'Honneur Cemetery of Brussels. Philippart was the first Belgian ace of the war.

Philippart was awarded the Croix de Guerre (Belgium) 1940 on 12th January 1943 and the Cross of the Order of Leopold with Palm on 16th September 1946.






Photos and additional research courtesy of Andre Bar at


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