06.06.1944 350 Squadron Spitfire Vb EN950 MN-H Flt.Lt. François A. Venesoen DFC
Operation: Patrol (D-Day)
Date: 6th June 1944 (Tuesday)
Unit: 350 (Belgian) Squadron
Type: Spitfire Vb
Base: RAF Friston, East Sussex.
Location: English Channel, off Normandy, France
Pilot: Flt.Lt. François August Venesoen DFC (Belgium) 107235 RAFVR Age 24. Missing - believed killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Whilst with 350 (Belgian) Sqn on the 19th August 1942 he claimed the shooting down of 2 Fw190 and on the 16th November 1942 he shared in the shooting down of a Junker Ju-52 transport. He was then posted to 610 Sqn and on the 29th March 1943 he claimed another Fw-190. On the 21st April 1943 he claimed for damaging 2 Fw-190s. His last credited victory was in a share of a Bf-110 on the 24th September 1943.
In recognition of his successes he was awarded a DFC on the 15th December 1943. (From "The Airman’s Stories" by Dean Sumner and The National Archives).
The invasion of Normandy was the largest amphibious assault ever launched. It involved five army divisions in the initial assault and over 7,000 ships. In addition there were 11,000 aircraft.
In total 75,215 British and Canadian troops and 57,500 US troops were landed by sea on D-Day. Another 23,400 were landed by air.
21 aircraft from fighter Command were lost at various locations,14 pilots died. Spitfire EN950 took off at 04:35 hours on a patrol to cover the ground forces. The aircraft, according to the 350 Operational Record Book, suffered a glycol leak which forced the pilot, Flt.Lt. Venesoen to bale out.
His wingman, Fg.Off. Siroux witnessed this and said that his parachute deployed fine and he hit the sea. He was seen to be struggling in the water trying to inflate his dinghy. Three Air Sea launches raced to the scene but no trace of the pilot was found.
Right: Flt.Lt. François August Venesoen DFC with Pamela Mary Webb (Courtesy: The Pamela Webb Venesoen Collection)
Flt.Lt. François August Venesoen DFC, Runnymede Memorial. Panel 203. Husband of Pamela Mary Webb whom he married in Anglesey, Wales on the 31st July 1943. Born on the 19th October 1920 in Antwerp, Belgium. He escaped via France to England and arrived on the 23rd June and then joined the RAF. First served as an air gunner on Blenheims with 235 Squadron moving on to 350 Squadron on the 18th December 1941. One of the few Belgians that had taken part in the ‘Battle of Britain’.
Flt.Lt. Venesoen DFC (courtesy Johny Recour), Flt.Lt. Venesoen has a gravestone in the Brussels Cemetery. The inscription reads 'disparu' which translates to 'missing person'.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Johny Recour from Belgium. Many thanks to Shannon Blosser-Salisbury, the cousin of Pamela Mary (née Webb) Venesoen for the continuing use of the couple's photograph