Colonel Daniel le Roy du Vivier

Daniel Le Roy du Vivier was born in Amersfoort (Holland) on January 13 1915.

After obtaining a degree in Commercial Sciences at the Catholic University of Leuven.µ, Le Roy du Vivier entered active service as private in the 1st regiment des Guides on July 31 1935. When his military service came to an end he re-enlisted as a student-pilot on April 1st 1937.

With his training finished, he was granted his pilot license on March 15 1938 and was sent to the 1st regiment d’Aeronautique 11th group 4th squadron on September 14 1938.

Promoted Pilot-Sergeant on September 26 1938 he studied at the Military Arms school in Evere where he became a second lieutenant.

On May 10 1940, during the German attack , he was stationed in Nivelles with the rank of Adjudant. Volunteering for a high risk mission he patrolled with a Fairey Firefly single-seat in the area of Antwerp-Leuven-Brussels accompanied by Major Jacques Lamarche and Lieutenant Yves du Monceau de Bergendal. 

He was shot down above Keerbergen by 'friendly fire'.

Because of the German push forward he was forced to go to France with his unit on May 15 1940. After a period of inactivity the pilots received the order to surrender on June 19 1940. Rather than surrender, Le Roy du Vivier and several other pilots (de Henricourt de Grune, Van den Hove d'Ertsenryck, Wilmet, Willy Van Lierde, Vichy Ortmans, Georges Doutrepont, Francis de Spiriet, Roger Malengreau) decided escape. They managed to get to Port-Vendres where they boarded the SS Apapa on June 23 1940. By June 27 1940 they had arrived at Gibraltar and continued on to Liverpool.

Upon his arrival he was instantly sent to the RAF depot at Gloucester ,where he spent about 12 days at the 7th Operational Training Unit where he was initiated into flying the fighters in service at the time. On August 4, he transferred to the 43rd fighter squadron, a unit that like many others, was in the thick of the Battle of Britain.

On August 8th the Staff of the RAF added this message to the daily orders.

“The Battle of Britain has began , members of the RAF be aware that the destiny of generations to come is in your hands”.

On the same day, 300 German aircraft dispersed in multiple squadrons cross the Channel and attacked convoys, boats,  transportation and communications facilities.

On august 16 he downed his first aircraft , a Junkers 87.

During the afternoon of September 2 1940 the Germans attacked the bases of the RAF which resulted in heavy aerial fighting.

During a melee above Sidcup, a small town near to London, Le Roy du Vivier who was in pursuit on a German fighter found himself under fire at 3000 feet altitude and was shot down in flames. He was able to bail out and landed in the garden of a young girls school! He was immediately surrounded by intrigued students armed with brooms, forks and shovels he was asked if he was British or not… Having difficulties talking in the language of Shakespeare he decided to play dead being afraid that his heavy Brussels accent would make him look like a German. He stayed like this until the arrival of a police constable who could verify his identity and get him to hospital.

From September 2 to October 22 1940 Daniel Le Roy du Vivier was treated at the Casualty Clearing Station of Tenderen.; He then joined the 43 fighter squadron, unit where he remained for 27 months, first as a Pilot Officer and later as a Flight Commander and after 18 months, as a Squadron Leader, making him the first foreigner to take command of a RAF squadron.

BN 230 was the Hurricane Squadron Leader D.A.R.G. 'Danny' Le Roy Du Vivier DFC.  BN 230 was the first RAF fighter over Dieppe on 19th August 1942, leading the Tangmere Wing in 'Operation Jubilee'

During the month of may 1941 he got his second victory ( a Junkers 88) and downed 3 others in collaboration with his comrades. He was promoted to the rank of Flight Commander.

On January 3 1942, a note from the Air Ministry awarded Le Roy du Vivier with the D.F.C. with following citation :

 “Has proven to have excellent qualities as a commanding flight-officer, succeeding in to maintain a high level of offensive value to his pilots during daytime and nightly operations he has undertaken. Has destroyed 4 enemy aircraft to this day.”

He was also awarded the Croix de Guerre with bronze palms. Le Roy du Vivier was accorded the right to wear an additional palm with 3 lions by the Belgian Minister Of National Defence.

Le Roy du Vivier participated brilliantly in the operation 'Dieppe'  in August 1942 leading his squadron. He undertook 4 attacks on heavily defended enemy positions coming back time after time with a damaged aircraft. His heroism is once more rewarded by his RAF superiors who awarded him a “Bar” on the ribbon of his DFC.

On September 22 1942 Le Roy du Vivier had to be transferred by stretcher after a mission.  He was suffering from heavy fatigue brought on by the day to day stress of fighter operation.

In April 1943 he was attached to the Middle East Command Headquarters. Le Roy du Vivier took command of the 239 Fighter Bomber Wing Tunis-Sicily composed of the 1 South African Sqn , the 3 and 450 Australian Sqn’s and the 112 and 260 British Sqn’s. He was appointed as Superior Officer responsible for the operations at the 324 Fighter Wing composed of the 43 , 72 , 93 , 111 and 601 Sqn’s.

After the Italian campaign Le Roy du Vivier returned to the RAF on July 8 1944 where he joined the 536 Operational Training Unit and on September 3 he was transferred to  the General Inspectorate of the Belgian Air Force.

Days after the capitulation of Germany he found himself at Fasberg with 2 Belgian Fighter squadrons. When they finally returned home to Bauvechain airfield, Wing Commander Le Roy du Vivier, (who had seriously injured his right leg during the combat in Sicily) asked to be relieved of duty and joined the reserve.

In civilian life he became the director of the Aviation department of the Belgian Shell Company.

Le Roy du Vivier found that he missed the military life however.

When a first auxiliary Squadron was created in January 1950, in order to train reserve pilots during the weekends, Lieutenant-Colonel Le Roy du Vivier jumped at the chance to take command. At Coxyde he organised a training camp where 15 fighter pilots could hone their aerial combat skills.

Daniel le Roy du Vivier was promoted to Reserve-Colonel on December 26 1955 and on that same year he left Belgium and became the Public Relations director of SABENA in the United States. He left the reserves on April 1 1970 when he reached the age limit.

Le Roy du Vivier died in a car accident on September 2 1981…….