The Spitfire & Hurricane Museum was very pleased to have received a most special visit on the 12th of November by Messrs. Jean-Claude Toubeau of the Chimay Twinning Association and Col. Xavier Janssens (retd.), founder of the Musée Mémorial Spitfire in Florennes, near Chimay.
Xavier, having been inspired by a 1981 visit to the RAF Manston Spitfire &Hurricane Memorial Museum (he flew into Manston in a Fouga Magister!!), decided upon his return to Florennes to found his very own museum dedicated to the memory of Belgian and Allied aviators of the Second World War.
The centrepiece of the Florennes Museum, you guessed it, is an original Mk XIV Spitfire featuring the original Griffon Engine (as opposed to the Merlin engine Spitfire Mk XVI on display at Manston).
The goal of the visit was to strengthen ties between the two museums as there are already strong links between the two towns the museums sit in with Ramsgate and Chimay already being twinned. In order to promote the common links between our two museums it is hoped that in the future group tours can be arranged that will visit the two towns and their respective museums.
After all Florennes, like Manston, has a very rich history of aviation and remains to this day the key base of the Belgian Air Force. The Musée Mémorial in Florennes beautifully illustrates this history through its fantastic collection of each of the major Belgian fighter aircrafts starting with the Spitfire Mk XIV and continuing all the way through to the F-16 Fighting Falcon which is currently Belgium’s front line fighter.
If that wasn’t enough, the area surrounding Florennes is noted in Belgium as being an area of outstanding national beauty (as are the beaches and Hills of Kent) and to top it all off, Chimay is also home to what is arguably one of Belgium’s finest abbey brewed beers, two bottles of which were generously provided to, and enjoyed by, the Spitfire & Hurricane Museum by the twinning association of Chimay! (Also famous for its cheese, delicatessen, woods…)
It is the hope of the Spitfire & Hurricane Museum and the Musée Mémorial Spitfire that we will be able to link our museums more closely in the future and we very much look forward to visiting Belgium in return to say hello to our new friends there.