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Monday, 12 March 2012

Jean de Selys Longchamps (1912-1943)

Very much enjoyed our little Brussels interlude with much to see, nice to find the Belgian quirky sense of humour still alive and strong. We spent a fair bit of time tracking Herge and his greatest creation Tintin with a very good itinary bought from the Tourist Office on Rue Royale.
Yes Tintins home is unnamed but Herge as any great artsist wrote what he know and what he knew was Brussels so the backdrop of middle 20th Century Brussels. We ventured out to Boitsfort where M's mum was brought up and found rather satonishingly that it was one tram stop, a 5 minute walk from Herges house where he lived from 1939 to 1953 in a period that saw him produce 10 books from King Ottokars Sceptre to Explorers on the Moon.
We also strolled along Avenue Louise - a major artery and shopping venue on the way back and saw the rather striking monument to Jean de Selys Longchamps, a Belgian nobleman who fled to France when Belgium was overrun by the German Army, after being interned by the Vichy authorities he escaped to Britain and was accepted for training as a pilot. He was posted to 609 Squadron which flew Hawker Typhoons. On 20th January 1943 he attacked the Gestapo building located on Avenue Louise in an unauthorised mission for which he was demoted to Pilot Officer but was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for the action.
He sadly didnt see the end of the war - dying on 16th August 1943 after his aircraft crash landed at RAF Manston.

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