The Royal Air Force over Luxembourg



Whilst there were no British ground troops in Luxembourg during the Second World War. The Royal Air Force (RAF) had been active in the skies over Luxembourg since 10 May 1940, the first day of the German invasion of the Benelux countries and France, and they remained so all the way through until the end of the war.

In the early war years it was the sound of RAF bombers crossing the Luxembourg night skies. That gave endurance, will, and moral support to the oppressed nation that Hitler and his regime, in the end, would not win. In those grim days of one of the darkest chapters in the history of Luxembourg, the RAF and the British nation were the only hope for a better future. 

Numerous RAF aircraft planes were hit by German anti-aircraft fire while flying during the night over Luxembourg territory, This was especially as they approached the borders of mainland Germany to reach their targets. Some crashed in Luxembourg, others eventually carried out  emergency landings. In numerous cases, RAF crews hit by Flak or strafed by German interceptive fighter planes in the Luxembourg-German borderlands were able to bail and parachute out in time, and safely landed on the ground, while others died in a crash. 

Courageous Luxembourg patriots risked their lives rescuing downed aircrews. When necessary they provided  clandestine emergency medical help, feeding and hiding them in barns, caves or in private homes, giving them civilian clothes, providing forged ID papers and trying to get them back to England or allied lines through an organised network of local resistance units. In most cases, local ‘passeurs’ smuggled them out of occupied Luxembourg and transferred them to members of the French or Belgian resistance, who took care of them.  

Many female members of the resistance in Luxembourg became key elements in those networks and were instrumental. A number of Luxembourg patriots were decorated after the war by the United Kingdom and also the US in gratitude for saving downed airmen’s  lives. 

Dead aircrews were buried by the Germans in unmarked graves during the occupation years or their bodies were transferred for burial to Germany. This, to prevent graves from becoming sites of silent tribute, meditation and moral support to the allies. 

In Luxembourg, RAF graves of British and Commonwealth RAF aircrews (Australia, Canada, New Zealand), can be found at: Diekirch, Weiswampach, Hupperdange, Maulusmühle (Boxhorn), Basbellain, Rambrouch, and Luxembourg/Hollerich. 

Once a year, the RAF Association holds a commemorative ceremony in honour of their war dead buried and cared for in Luxembourg.