As a result of those RAF efforts and missions over- and beyond the territory of the then occupied territory of Luxembourg, a number of Royal Air Force airplanes were damaged or shot-down over Luxembourg in 1940-45. Some exploded on hitting the ground, mortally damaged by German “Flak” (anti aircraft artillery), others crash-landed and others had their crews parachute to the ground.
Especially in the latter case, numbers of parachuted RAF crews were rescued by courageous Luxembourg patriots, were hidden, given medical assistance, food, civilian clothes, forged ID papers and were escorted by Luxembourg agents through the thick Ardennes forests in the south to be turned over to Belgian- or French resistance group agents who made sure that eventually they would get back to allied lines.
A number of Luxembourg patriots have thus saved the lives of their British RAF liberators and some of them were recognized after the War.
Luxembourg has never forgotten that-during the darkest periods of World War II, pending the liberation of the country by American forces in September 1944 and subsequently January 1945 (the British troops who equally contributed to the German failure in the Ardennes, were geographically further north in Belgium) it was the RAF who gave hope to the small oppressed Luxembourg nation that Hitler was not going to win!
British war heroes (flyers) killed in action in Luxembourg are well remembered by Luxembourgers and the local RAF chapter. There are a number of RAF/Commonwealth war graves in Luxembourg and the tiny neutral and defenceless Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg was invaded on May 10, 1940 during the “Fall Gelb” (yellow case plan) of the Nazi-German armies in their effort to defeat Western European nations (Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg), seize control of those countries and prepare for operation “sea lion” – the intended invasion of Great Britain. As early as May 10, 1940, Royal Air force aircraft of prepositioned squadrons in France intercepted advancing German columns penetrating into Luxembourg. All throughout the earlier war years, when Luxembourg was annexed to the German “Reich”, Royal Air Force bomber squadrons passed over occupied Luxembourg territory to bomb and strafe strategic military and industrial targets in mainland Nazi Germany. Those missions stiffened in the later war years – especially after the D-Day landings. During the “Battle of the Bulge” fought in the Belgian and Luxembourg Ardennes, RAF fighter squadrons helped clear the winter sky of enemy aircraft and destroy German armored targets on the ground together with their American counterparts.
Numbers of RAF crews 1940-45 were Commonwealth-originated fliers from Australia, Canada, New Zealand. Even smaller allied nations like Poland, Belgium, Czechoslovakia had joined the RAF effort and send pilots to join in efforts for final victory.
Memorials recalling the British contributions to Victory and honoring the brave soldiers who gave their utmost, can be found in Luxembourg all along with monuments dedicated to US units who liberated the country during the “Battle of the Ardennes”.
GAUL’s LEGACY TOURS can combine any RAF memorials and graves in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg with other World War II-related places of interest: museums, terrain walks, military cemeteries, memorials according to YOUR interest and needs. Please contact us for suggestions.