Text: Alain Debras - Pictures: Alain Debras & Michael Moors (Comopsair IPR) - Translation: Marc Arys  © sbap 2015

Folklore, legends and traditions …

When two traditions, even more, two legends meet!
Folklore at Liège, à Lidge (as they say locally)... Qu'ène afer à Lidge

At first a little bit of history


Tchantchès is a legendary personage born within the Liège traditional puppets (with single rod) appearing in the Outre-Meuse district of Liège at the beginning of the 19th century. Mostly played were knighthood acts in particular depicting the emperor Charlemagne (Charles the Great). In between the acts one could see a character named Tchantchès. Following the demand of the public, Tchantchès progressively entered more and more into the plays and became the contemporary of Charlemagne. And as tradition (or legend) told that Charlemagne was born in the Liège region, Tchantchès had not to go very far as to meet this great person.
Regarding his name, two theories exist: either it came from the flamish “Petit Jean” (“Jantje” -Jantche) pronounced in Walloon as “D'jan tchès”, or from a childish Walloon alteration of the name François, although in the Liège literature François is translated as “Françwès”.
His traditional costume is made up of white and black checkered pants, a blue jacket, a red scarf with white dots and a black cap. The typical outfit of workers in the Liège region at the end of the 19th beginning of the 20th century.
He embodies the rebel and childish spirit of the Liège people: not impressed by titles nor crowns, courageous, determined and hungry of liberty. He lives together with Nanesse who follows him through all his battles.
Besides his theatrical performances; Tchantchès appeared in two comic strips, one in 1940 in a daily cartoon within the pages of the “La Légia” newspaper and in 1988 drawn by François Walthéry.

The “Red Devils”

This aerobatic team of the Belgian Air Force was created in 1957 and flew on Hawker Hunter F.6 until 1963. The team was reinitiated in 1965 and performed its shows on the mythical Potez CM170 Fouga Magister till 1977.
After some steps, the “Red Devils” saw life again on the Siai Marechetti SF260 and since 2011 they represent the Belgian Air Component throughout various air shows.
For the detailed history on the team, please do have a look at our page:

The topic of this Wednesday May 20th, 2015

The encounter of traditions

On Wednesday May 20th, 2015 a ceremony was held at the Tchantchès museum at Liège for the the hand-over of the 402nd costume to Tchantchès... sorry, to Commandant Aviator Tchantchès!
Since his birth, Tchantchès regularly received special outfits of all imaginable kinds (which are exhibited in his Museum).
This Wednesday 20 he received his 402nd outfit... and one of a kind, the outfit of a pilot of our renowned aerobatic team the “Red Devils”. Moreover, during this ceremony he was officially promoted to Commandant Aviator within this team.
All this was possible due to an initiative of Jean-Pierre Dechesne who combines his qualities as a retired Commandant of aviation and his membership of the Tchantchès Brotherhood.
It was also the opportunity to ally folklore, legends and traditions upon the 50th anniversary of the reconstitution of the “Red Devils” team (1965-2015).
Rendez-vous was taken at the heart of the Outre-Meuse area to celebrate these events and of course throw a small party around a little glass of peket.
Welcome speeches were done by Jean-Pierre Dechesne followed by the President of the Outre-Meuse Republic, Christian Elaerts. Flowers to the female tailor who made the flight suit for Tchantchès and souvenirs to the members of the Team after a little speech from their leader Commandant Aviator Paul “Paolo” Leys. Then the veil was lifted to uncover Commandant Aviator Tchantchès in his bright “Red Devils” suit.
Major-General Aviator Frederic “Fred” Vansina, Air Component Commander, took the opportunity to congratulate the organizers and to hand over the official licenses to Tchantchès for his qualities as Commandant Aviator and team member n° 5 within the Red Devils.
Finally General Major Vansina, the team members 2015, the mechanics and two former Red Devils, “Red” Dewaelheyns and Fred Burnia, signed the guest book.
SBAP team would like to thanks Mister Jean-Pierre Dechesne for the exclusivity of this event and the "Tchantchès Museum" team for their warm welcome.

The house of Tchantchès in Liège (Alain Debras) Tchantchès as cartoon hero (François Walthéry)
Presentation of the hero by J.P. Dechennes (Michael Moors) The Red Devils team (Michael Moors)
Mr Christian Elaerts President of the Free Republic of Outre-Meuse
(Michael Moors)
Some typical souvenirs
(Michael Moors)
(Alain Debras) "Paolo" the leader on the micro (Michael Moors)
(Alain Debras) (Alain Debras)
Discovering Tchantchès as Devil 5 (Michael Moors) "Mag" placing the nametag on the suit of the new member (Michael Moors)

(Michael Moors)

Ready for the next display (Alain Debras)
Maj. Gen. Avi. “Fred” Vansina and Mister Christian Elaerts (Michael Moors) Tchantchès and Didier Lahey, his technical crew chief (Michael Moors)
A souvenir picture with "Red" Dewalheyns and "Fred" Burnia (Michael Moors) Signing the golden book (Alain Debras)
(Alain Debras) (Alain Debras)
(Alain Debras) A drink for the new career of Tchantchès (Alain Debras)
The folkloric hero in action... (Alain Debras) ...for the great pleasure of the audience (Michael Moors)
Do you want to see this ceremony on TV?
Click on Tchantchès nametag...

Reports Menu - Homepage