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News > Announcements > Obituaries > In Memoriam: Phillip Belgeonne (1951-1956)

In Memoriam: Phillip Belgeonne (1951-1956)

You are warmly welcomed to leave a message below, share your memories and celebrate the life of Phillip Belgeonne who we sadly lost in 2024.
12 Jun 2024
Written by Sue Carpenter
Obituaries
Phillip Belgeonne
Phillip Belgeonne

Philip Peter Belgeonne  was born in Brussels, Belgium of Belgian parents on 29th January 1938. He died peacefully on 21 April 2024. In his own words, ‘his personal life was not as successful as his professional life’. That said he is survived by 5 children, 18 grandchildren and 6 Great Grandchildren! His son Damian contributed this obituary

When World War II broke out in 1939, using his father’s dual nationality, the Belgeonne family moved to England, and remained in England after the conflict  He was educated at The Nautical College, Pangbourne where he becameChief Cadet Captain of the College’.  a role of which he was very proud. A notable sportsman, he was Captain of both Fencing and Sailing as well as representing the College at Rugby in the 1st Xv in 1954,1955 and 1956 and playing in the Hockey 1st XI in 1955.

In 1957 Phillip passed into the Royal Navy and spent two years and a term at the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. Here he rose to Senior Midshipman and was awarded the Queens Telescope presented to him by Lord Louis Mountbatten.  On leaving Dartmouth he served first in HMS Troubridge in the West Indies and HMS Hermes before transferring into the Fleet Air Arm in 1961. 

After his initial flying training at RAF Linton-on-Ouse he went to BUA Redhill where he was taught to fly helicopters flying the Hillier and Whirlwind Mk 1 models. He joined 846 Sqn in May 1962 serving in HMS Albion, flying Whirlwind Mk7s  in the Far East and seeing active service in Borneo and Brunei.  Breaking his leg getting out of his helicopter in May 1963 he was flown back to UK and joined 847 Sqn flying Whirlwind Mk7s at RNAS Culdrose.  In Dec 1963 he transferred to 706 Sqn and saw the transition from Wessex Mk1 to Wessex Mk5 in 700V Sqn. Thereafter, he joined 848 Sqn in Culdrose before deploying again in HMS Albion to the Far East seeing active service in Aden.

In January 1966 he returned to 706 Sqn to retrain on the Wasp.  He flew a number of sorties with John Shrives. Little would either of them know then that their son’s Mike Shrives and Damian Belgeonne would fly once together in a Lynx of 702 Sqn in June 1984. 

Philip went on to serve as HMS Nubian’s Flight Commander from Feb 1966 to July 1968.  Two notable occurrences marked his time in Nubian, the first was to fly Emperor Haile Salassie in Jan 1967.  Richard Baker in his book Dry Ginger, a Biography of Admiral of the Fleet Sir Michael Le Fanu, who was present on the occasion, recorded that the Admiral was grateful for the services of a French speaking pilot – the Emperor’s principal language. 

The second was ditching whilst outbound from Mombasa with the mail to Nubian, 50 miles offshore.  His aircraft suffered a power turbine governor failure causing him to ditch, Rescuing the mail into his dinghy, Phillip sat on the aircraft canopy until the ship reached some three hours later.  The crew cheered on his arrival, not for his well being but because they could see the mail in the dinghy!.  Later, the aircraft was, uniquely for a frigate, recovered by a crane, lashed alongside the hull and returned to Mombasa.  His replacement aircraft was to be XT 420 – now being flown by Navy Wings.

Philip left the Navy in 1968 first joining the Abu Dhabi Defence Force for three years to command its helicopter Squadron.  After Abu Dhabi he moved into civil aviation gaining his fixed and rotary wing commercial licenses.  He had 11 years in Nigeria as Managing Director of a Shreiner Airways subsidiary Aero Contractors of Nigeria before returning to UK to take Executive Sales  Director roles for corporate aircraft with Eagle Beachcraft and British Aerospace. He retired in 199, became active in the British Legion and was a keen church bell ringer.

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