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THE 1st BELGIAN SAS SQUADRON
                       1944

                       

Badge picture from :http://www.belgianbadges4046.be/

CAPTAIN BLUNT

Eddy Blondeel was born in Ghent (Belgium) on the 25th of January 1906. Educated at the Deutsche Schule in Ghent he developed a good sense of discipline and excelled at languages. At the age of 13 he took up scouting, which he claimed helped develop his character. Before the Second World War he was appointed Commissioner of Scouts in the Flanders area of Belgium.Blondeel was in America when war was declared in 1939, as a reserve officer he requested permission from the Belgian embassy in Washington to return to Europe.The Belgian embassy gave Blondeel the advice to go back to (occupied) Belgium not the UK. Blondeel refused . Blondeel asked the leaving doctor to ask his wife if he should return to Belgium or stay in the US. If she wanted him to return she had to write him a letter saying "THE WEATHER IS FINE". She wrote him a letter saying "THE WEATHER IS NOT FINE" so Blondeel stayed. In 1940 he receives orders to report to Joliette in Quebec Canada, the rallying centre for Belgians living in North America. There he inspired his compatriots with tremendous enthusiasm and fighting spirit as they underwent intensive training with the Canadian Army. In 1942, he was appointed to command the Belgian company that was to embark in June of that year to Britain. In England his whole unit without exception volunteered to form the Belgian Independent Parachute Company, which was later to become the Belgian S.A.S Squadron (5thSAS).
They trained at various locations, including the parachute school at Ringway ,the Airborne centre at Hardwick and the glider base at Brize Norton. In 1943, the Belgians underwent a course based at Inverlochy Castle and completed their training in Scotland with other Paratroop units. These included the 3rd and 4th French Parachute Battalions and 1 and 2 SAS.

                   

As a leader Blondeel proved immensely popular (he was affectionately known as "Captain Blunt" among his men) and was blessed with an exceptional memory. He also had a charming, slightly eccentric side. It was said that in the hours before dawn, when his squadron was due to drop behind enemy lines, a light would be seen burning in his hut; there he was found polishing up his Russian verbs in preparation for the link up with Soviet forces.
The citation for his DSO bore the signatures of the SAS brigade and the 1st British Airborne Corps, as well as that of Field Marshal Montgomery. It recorded that his squadron "was one of the best trained and organised ever seen". On August 28 1944, Blondeel, then a Major, was parachuted into the Ardennes forest. An advanced party had sent a signal advising against anyone joining them, as the enemy was so thick on the ground. Blondeel, however in typical style, insisted on going, in view of the speed with which the battle was moving. His leadership and courage inspired the local Maquis as well as his own squadron. By a series of highly successful ambushes, Blondeel and the men under his command did much to delay and harass the withdrawal of the enemy through the Ardennes. In 1944 it was decided that the Belgian paratroopers were to be kept in reserve. Blondeel believed for some operations in Belgium. That view changed when he was informed by Brigadier Mac Leod (Commanding officer of the S.A.S. Brigade) that the Belgian authorities did'nt want the Belgian SAS to be the first in Belgium!!??. Blondeel did not understand and visited the Belgian authorities in London to find out why. Brigadier Mac Leod also did not understand the Belgian goverments stance and as a consequence could only organise Belgian drops in France. It was decided a total of 14 squads would be dropped. The Belgian goverment still did`nt want the Belgian SAS to be the first in Belgian. Again the question raised by Blondeel was why?
Eventually Blondeel became entirely fed up with the situation and gave Lt. Renkin a mission to get in contact with the Belgian restistance. Renkin was Dropped in France and passed the frontier into Belgium. When Blondeel heard by radio that he had passed the frontier, he asked Mac Leod, to be dropped with some men to join him. When Blondeel pointed out the DZ on the map Mac Leod said " But, this DZ is in Belgium" "Oh..." Blondeel answered nonchalantly " I had'nt noticed" "OK" Mac Leod replied " I did`nt notice either". So Blondeel was dropped with some men in Belgium at Gedinne. His squad was almost immediatedly in action with the resistance when he received a message from London stating the "The Belgian goverment are not happy".
Regardless, shortly after this "Belgian" operation, the SAS squads met in Brussels and Blondeel visited home (after 5 years) where he saw his wife and two little daughters again. This he would later recall was his best memory of the war. During the operations of the Belgian SAS in the Low countries., 200 volunteers were enlisted in the field. These trained in Tervueren (Belgium) or in England, and after the liberation of Brussels were involved in ground operations and counter-intelligence in Holland and Germany. They arrested numerous Nazi war criminals, including Von Ribbentrop (in Hanover by Belgian SAS Sargeant Jacques Goffinet) and helped in the arrest of the Donitz Goverment in Flensburg. Just before the German surrender, Blondeel`s regiment was operating near Godesholt in Germany when he was ordered to undertake an operation which could have resulted in heavy casualties. But just as his patrol was setting out, the order was received to cease all hostilities!.
Blondeel called everyone together for a Celebration feast and sat down at the piano playing classics and popular war melodies, ending with Auld Lang Syne; "We must now face the uncertainties and complexities of peace" he remarked. In 1947, Blondeel took up engineering again, with Hasendonck, in a paper company. It was taken over by Wiggins Teape in 1974 but Blondeel stayed on there and eventually retired in 1981 at the age of 75. Perhaps one of Blondeel`s greatest achievements was to ensure that the SAS spirit which he had adopted should survive the end of hostilities.
Although there was reforming of the British SAS after the war, Blondeel faced much greater difficulties in a small country like Belgium, hindered by bureaucracy, politics (it is said he never made the rank of General due to some politicians dislike of him) and rival language groups. Before leaving the Army he made sure that his wartime unit was not disbanded, and set up the Belgian SAS Regimental Association, of which he was elected President. In 1966 he became one of the two Presidents and Honorary Colonel of the National Para-Commando Comrades Association, which succeeded the Belgian SAS Association. At the end of the war Blondeel was appointed officer of the Legion of Honour , and received many other decorations. Eddy Blondeel always emphasised that any success he had achieved was due to the teamwork and devotion to duty of all those with whom he served. In his youth he had excelled at basketball, fencing and rowing. He was 93 years old when he passed away in the year 2000.

Text above provided by www.belgiansas.com  

 (Copyright : Des Thomas & Marc Backx)

THE 1st BELGIAN SAS SQUADRON

                             

The Belgian Independant Parachute Company was raised at Malvern, United Kingdom, on May 8 1942.In June 1943 the company was attached for some time to the 8th British Parachute Battalion.The company continued to train for night jumps.In January 1944 the 1st Belgian Independant Parachute Company became the 1st Belgian SAS Squadron
and was integrated into the British SAS Brigade.
On July 27 1944 the Squadron saw action for the first time and they were parachuted behind enemy lines in France.During July and August 1944 the squadron acomplished several missions behind enemey lines.On August 15 1944 several teams were parachuted near the Belgian border.Their mission was to penetrate into Belgian territory and to make contact with the resisitance mouvements
with the purpose of organising sabotage actions.
They were the first Allied, and Belgian, military to enter Belgium.Once Belgium liberated in September 1944, the unit started to train new recruits.On November 11 1944 the unit was reorganised an became "jeepborne" instead of "airborne".The squadron took part in the battle of the Bulge and fulfilled flank defensive operations for the 6th British Airborne Division.On February 4 1945 the squadron was reorganised and became the 1st Belgian SAS Parachute Regiment.After training the new recruits, the regiment was assigned to the 2nd Canadian Army Corps on April 10 1945.The 1st Belgian SAS Parachute Regiment took part in the Holland-Germany campaign.After the capitulation of Nazi Germany the regiment undertook counter intelligence missions
in the North of Germany and the South of Denmark.
They apprehended von Ribbentrop and took part in the arrest of the Dönitz Government in Flensburg.The regiment returned to Belgium on July 4 1945.At the end of 1945 the 1st Belgian SAS Parachute Regiment became part of the newly formed Belgian Army.

Commanding Officers :

Senior Captain THISE from the start until January 20 1944
Major BLONDEEL from January 20 1944 until 1946

 

Sgt eagle August 2004

 
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