|Baron Jean de Selys Longcamps|
In Brussels, the Nazi secret police (the Gestapo) had taken over the office building at 453 Avenue Louise, and De Selys knew this. Wanting to take special action against the dreaded Gestapo, De Selys Longchamps requested permission to attack the building with his Hawker Typhoon fighter plane. Permission had not been granted by January 20, 1943, when he and another pilot were attacking railroad traffic in Flanders. Unsatisfied with destroying trains, De Selys Longchamps decided to fulfill his dream of dishing out retribution directly to the Gestapo. So, before returning to England, he sped to Brussels, swooped low so his countrymen could recognize the plane, then pummeled the Germans' headquarters with a stream of fire from his 20 mm cannon. Shattered glass and concrete rained onto the sidewalks below. To this day, the exact number of Gestapo men killed in the attack is unknown (one estimate is 30), but De Selys Longchamps definitely lowered their numbers and their prestige. The ecstatic citizens of Brussels crowded near to get personal peeks at the damage while angry guards tried to shoo them away.
|Monument on Ave. Louise, Brussels|
Eight months later, on August 16, 1943, the Belgian patriot died in a crash while attempting to land his fighter at Manston, England. For his solo deed that day, a monument stands outside the former Gestapo headquarters on Avenue Louise. If you find yourself in Brussels some day, drop by and consider what one individual can accomplish.