Raymond "Cheval" Lallemand passed

away this January 30, 2008

 

 

On January 30, 2008, Colonel Raymond Lallemand took off for his last mission.

Known for his feat of arms, 'Cheval' left occupied Belgium in July 1940 and went on through Morocco towards England where he joined the Royal Air Force who was in shortage of pilots. In July 1941 he is appointed sergeant at the celebrated 609 Squadron at Biggin Hill, flying Spitfires and Typhoons. 'Cheval' was the first 'Ace' with 6 combat victories on this latter type. He was also decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) in March 1943.
The Hawker Typhoon became a dreadful ground attack airplane and the squadrons equipped with this aircraft contributed certainly to the victory of the battle of Normandie. Colonel Raymond Lallemand 'scored' 34 tanks.
After 4 years of training and combat missions he was appointed as the Commanding Officer (CO) of the 609 Squadron, the unit where he started his 'war career' as a sergeant.
But in September 1944, 'Cheval' was shot down over Arnhem (The Netherlands) and was seriously burnt.
Having left the hospital after several months, he took the command of the '349 Belgian Squadron' and saw the end of the war with 508 combat missions.

After the war, Colonel Raymond Lallemand spent 30 years within the new Belgian Air Force and held several leading positions.
From 1947 till 1952 he was the CO of the 2 Wing Fighter Bombers (1, 2 and 3 Sqn) at Florennes airbase flying Spitfires XIV and F-84G Thunderjet. Besides these airplanes 'Cheval' also flew Meteor, T-33A Shooting Star and the Alpha Jet.
He took the courses at the Air University of Maxwell (USA), was commander of the 'Centre de Prévention des Accidents ' (Centre of Accident Prevention) of the Belgian Air Force and went on as the commander of the Fighter Leader Course at Bierset before he ended at the Fighter School at Brustem.
After the Defence College course from NATO, he became the Chief of Staff of the Instruction and Training Group (1963-1965) to rejoin the Military Commitee of NATO.
He retired from actif service in 1973.

Once retired, he dedicated his time to relate his combat memories and published 3 moving accounts :

- 'Rendez-vous avec la chance' : relating his departure to England as to continue to fight the ennemy

- 'Rendez-vous d'un jour' : relating his memories on the invasion of Normandie and the following days which marked the start of the slow evolution towards the liberation of the Nazi domination

- 'Rendez-vous avec le destin' : a testimony on his years as a pilot, emphasizing hw lucky he was to be a pilot and a fighter.

Nobody will forget the conferences given from time to time by 'Cheval' telling his stories as he revived them and taking his auditors in his impetuosity.
More than once felt I taken to the skies just by listening to him.

This time, it is done, he took off for his last mission, but only to rejoin his 'combat' comrades and tell about the good old days in pilot's heaven.

Farewell 'Cheval' and thanks for all those memories.

Serge Van Heertum - S.B.A.P.©
 

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