Belgian searchlight batteries in Dunkirk perimeter

Living History

Hi all,

The Belgian 2e Regiment de Défense Terrestre contre Aéronefs (2 AA Regiment) was made up out of two battalions of 75mm AA guns, four independent batteries of 40mm Bofors AA guns and two battalions of searchlights. The latter comprised XXI batalion and XXII battalion, each with two batteries of 12 searchlights.

On 23rd May, both these battalions were taken out of the Belgian order of battle and attached to the Dunkirk perimeter. A total of 26 searchlights were deployed. I estimate the number of personnel to have been involved to be around 1,300. I have been able to establish so far that positions included Malo-les-Bains, the Moëres polders, Ghyvelde, Bergues, Hondschoote, Adinkerke en De Panne.

I had a few questions about this deployment:

(1) Battery commanders from both battalions report that particularly during the nights of 24, 25 and 26 May, several German aircraft were caught in their light beams and go on to complaint that none of these aircraft were engaged by French or British AA units. Was it indeed the case that there was no cover during those early nights of Operation Dynamo?

(2) Both battalion commanders report that no operational orders were received from the military command of Dunkirk and that all batteries were left to operate according to their own initiative. But the deployment had been requested by the French high command. Is there any evidence in British war records that anyone knows of that could demonstrate that the allied armies were aware of the presence of these searchlight batteries?

(3) On 26 May, Capitaine-Commandant Jottrand writes that relations with both the French and British armies were unfriendly. He specifically mentions that “Les anglais sont dangereux” but unfortunately declines to elaborate… Is anyone able to comment more generally on Anglo-Belgian relations in the field in the early days of the evacuation? I had always understood that the British did not really turn onto the Belgians until the day of their surrender.

All units were recalled to Belgian territory on the afternoon of 28th May to be taken prisoner by the Germans.

The attached is a picture of a Belgian EPE150 searchlight:


Many thanks,


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