The Airmen's Stories - P/O A A L Van Waeyenberghe
Arthur Albert Leopold Van Waeyenberghe was born on 17th January 1915 in Aalst, Belgium and joined the Belgian Army in 1933, transferring to the Air Force in 1935.
Although the photos below (kindly supplied by his family) show him with various pre-war aircraft the exact details of his service are unknown. He had made his way to England by June 1940 after Belgium was overrun and was commissioned in the RAF in July.
After converting to Blenheims he was posted to 236 Squadron on 5th August 1940. He served with the squadron throughout the Battle. Sgt. JR 'Jack' Toombs, who was Van Waeyenberghe's WOp/AG
for most of this period, recounted how they would make very dangerous solo daylight raids along the French and Belgian coasts seeking targets of opportunity. This was on Van Waeyenberghe's initiative, he was very aggresive and keen to avenge the invasion of his country.
Van Waeyenberghe was killed serving with 272 Squadron on 10th March 1941. His Benheim IV, Z5752 XK-L, was detailed for convoy escort and took off from Aldergrove, Northern Ireland at 13:35 hrs. The weather became very bad and the aircraft was last plotted on the northern coast of Ulster.
Also lost in Z5752 were
Sgt. JR Thompson (another Battle veteran of 236 Squadron) and
Sgt. DI McWatt.
Another aircraft from 272 went missing on the same sortie and it is very likely that the two collided, this would explain the lack of radio transmissions.
The other aircraft was Z5733 XK-E with crew members Sgt. PGV Chanler, Sgt. HK Pass and Sgt. WA Newton.
Van Waeyenberghe is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, panel 35. In accordance with Belgian practice
he has a memorial grave at the Pelouse d'Honneur Cemetery of Brussels at Evere.
(Above right: this sketch was in his personal effects that were returned to his family post-war, they believe it was done by a member of the family in Northern Ireland with whom he was billeted)
Above photo courtesy of Dean Sumner
Above and below: his brother Ghisleen on a visit to Runnymede.