• Saffraanberg origins
  • 1900 : Ursulines Sisters
  • 1921 : Belgian government is owner.
  • 1940 : The school is closed. The site is controlled by the Luftwaffe.
  • 1946 : The Technical Training School is moving to Saffraanberg

 Since September 2007, the Royal Technical School became the Royal School for Non Commissioned Officers. The department for preparation to access the Royal Military School (DPERM) initially located in the Laeken, Zedelgem and Dinant Schools for Non Commissioned Officers are now integrated in Saffraanberg. 

Since October 25th 2007, the official emblem of the new Royal School for NCO’s is the flag of the Pupil’s School of Saffraanberg, that replaces the insignia of the Royal Air Force (Belgian) Technical School.

Fanion Ecole Pupilles02                      Ecusson Ecole Technique02

The insignia of the Royal Technical School and the name it had until September 2007 originate in the UK during WW II.


Well before this, according to Georges de Tilloux (1879 - 1953), the origins of the name "Saffraanberg"  (Mount of Safran) should be found within the 18th century.
At those times, herbicides are not existing yet, and the neighboring hills are partly covered with a plant called Field Mustard (Sinapis Arvensis). When the plants are in blossom, all the bright yellow flowers are giving the hills the color of the Safran.

Starting in early 1900, a dozen of Ursulines Sisters (Order of St Ursul) aquirre a 20 acres field within those surrounding hills.
A impressive convent forming a 150 yards quadrilateral is builded. The first Ursulines Sisters are moving-in during 1904, and are quickly followed by other Sisters coming from Belgium, England, Holland and Germany.

In 1918, Saffraanberg is sequestered, as the convent is belonging to hostile citizen. The civil registry of that typical  year shows clearly that major part of the community is constituted with Sisters born in Germany. 

Ursulines Sisters are going to court and recall the convent is the property of an only dozen of Sisters. They admit that three of them have german origins, but those three Sisters are leaving in Belgium since 30 years  now and are not planning to go back in Germany. They even lost their nationality.

Their property cannot be sequestered anymore, this act being reserved to enemy people.

In 1921, the Belgian government has to indemnify the Sisters ; and become the official owner of Saffraanberg.

The Primary Flemish Pupil's (*) School will be set before the court decision in 1919.

(*) Pupil : In this case, Pupil refer to an orphan who's under government supervision. (Most of them being War orphan)

  • Two primary schools, a flemish one and a french one are established at Saffraanberg and Bouillon respectively.
  • Two secondary schools, a flemish one and a french one are set at Aalst and Marneffe. They are in charge of the first level of education.
  • Two cadet schools, a flemish and a french one are both established at Namur. They will teach the 3 year cycle of the second level of education.

The entire system (Six schools) is managing 2000 pupils, 200 of them are leaving in Saffraanberg.

The economical crisis of the 30's will trigger the end of the Pupil's Schools, all of them being deleted by a Royal Order dated 26th of March 1933.

The two remaining Cadet Schools are separated, the french one stay at Namur, the flamish one being moved to the old convent, at Saffraanberg.
The Vlaamsche Legercadettenschool will be in Saffraanberg till the 10th of May 1940.


  • Picture Saff40-01 & Saff40-02 : The "1000 window's convent". The Ursulines Sisters chambers are located right under the roof.
  • Picture Saff40-03 : On the left, note the Hotchkiss 1914 machine gun on his tripod.
  • Picture Saff40-05 : Note the special structure of the bed frame allowing an easy superposition. Note also the way used to pack everything in "square".  We will discover them here (unchanged) in 1978.
  • Picture Saff40-09 : A picture coming from a RAF reconnaissance aircraft taken on the April 24th 1944. At the time, the Cadet School is under control of the Luftwaffe.
  • Picture Saff40-10 : Saffraanberg is completely rebuilt in 1951, following the fire that burned completely the former convent on the 8th of August 1948.


Between the wars, due the development of Belgian military aviation, a school for technician was created in the heart of the Aeronautical Establishment (Etablissements de l'Aéronautique)  plant at Evere.
The candidates are trained in each of the six available sections : Engine - Airframe - Electricity - Wood & Propeller - Weapon - Instrument, and are finally graduated "specialist".

The so called techniciens wear a specific insignia: a 25 mm (1 inch) cogwheel crossed by a 2 blade wood propeller of 30 mm (1 1/4 inch), the prop being rotated from 30 degrees.
Their hat shows also a simillar insignia, a two blades propeller (40 mm) crossing a 21 mm disk including the two embossed letters E and A.(Etablissements Aéronautique)

Ecusson des Specialistes02     Etablissement Aeronautique02

10th of May 1940 : Germany invades Belgium, the school activities are stopped.

In October 1944, the Belgian Initial Training School opens on Snailwell airbase, in Cambridgeshire (UK), it contains an elementary flying school and a technical school. Both sections are under the command of the RAF Technical Training Command. In 1945, the close base of Bottisham becomes a satellite of Snailwell.

The Technical School section will determine the final version of the insignia, as for all units created in the RAF, the Belgian units need to respect a canvas. 

  • The insignia represents a disc, containing a specific sign, topped by a crown and with a tag with a moto under it.
    The sign is easily found. The propeller (with three blades now) and the dented wheel of the pre-war specialists are surrounded by the mention: Royal Air force (Belgian) Technical Training School.
  • Virgile’s famous verses from the “Géorgiques” are retained as moto :
    Labor Omnia Vincit Improbus (Hard Labour Triumphs Over All). These words perfectly describe the enormous amount of work done by then by the technical personnel to keep the aircrafts flying and in combat readiness despite the difficulties created by the conflict.

The insignia is approved by the Chester Herald and Inspector of Royal Air Force Badge on July 2nd 1946

At the end of October 1946, the Elementary Flying School moves to Schaffen, while the Technical School is moved to Saffraanberg

The official insignia of the school is brought back to Belgium by the ambassador of Great Britain in July 1947.


  • Picture Saff46-01 : A representation of the insignia mounted on a support.

NEXT : Saffraanberg - Joining Air Force      

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