* World War I -- Belgium liberation

World War I: Belgium--Liberation (August-November 1918)

Figure 1.--Here are British soldiers entering the French city of Lille (October 17). Lille was ocupied by the Germans at the onset of the War. It was only a few miles from the Belgian frontier. .

The German occupation did not end until the Allies launched the War-winning Hundred Days Campaign After the failure of the German Spring Offensive (April-May 1918, Allied Armies significantly strengthened by the large and growing American Expeditionary Force smashed into the German Western Front and began liberating areas of Belgium (August-November 1918). The Belgians played a role in the final Allied victory--the war-winning Hundred's Day Camapign. King Albert reorganized the Belgian Army into 12 infantry divisions in the smll corber of unoccupied Belgium. They were part of the Belgian-French-British Army Group Flanders commanded by King Albert and his French Chief of Staff General Jean Degoutte. They fought in the Fifth Battle of Ypres (beginning September 28), breaching the German front at Houthulst and liberated Passchendaele, Langemark and Zonnebeke. They paused (October 2- 14 October). The Belgian Army next participated in the Battle of Courtai, liberating Bruges and Ostend. Lille pn yhe Bekhian border was liiberated by British troops (0ctober 17). The Allies were still miles from Brussels when it was actually liberated by German soldiers. A Soldatenrat was created (November 10). The German solfiers rebelled against their officers and unsuccessfully tried to fraternize with the local population. The last days were were violent, with the people retaliating against war profiteers and women suspected of having relations with the Germans. The Belgian Army fought in the Battle of the Lys and the Escaut and neared Ghent (November 11). The German Army was disntegrating, but the Allied advance was no cake walk. The Belgian Arny sustauned 20 percebt casualties in just these 6 weeks. That was a third of the all the casualties suffered during the entire war. [Pawly, pp. 36-37.] The Germans asked for an Armnistice which was sugned (November 11). As part of the Armitice, the Germans were required to immediately evacuate Belgium. At the time the Germans asked for the Armistice, they still controlle most of Belgium. The Flemish government which the Germans had established to partition the country collapsed. Belgium's suffering, however, did not end with the Armistice. A frantic week followed the Armistic. Retreating but still heavily armed German soldiers stripped museums, galleries, and private homes of anything remotely valuable. [Bray] Brussels mayor Adolphe Max who had refused to coopeate with the Germabns escaped from prison and entered Brussels to a hero's welcome (Noember 17). The Royal Family arrived in Brussels and the entire city exploded in a joyuous national celebration (Novembver 22).


Bray, Paul, "Brussels under German occupation," The Telegraph (December 30, 2014).

Pawly, Ronald. The Belgian Army in World War I (Osprey Books: 2009).


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Created: 9:48 PM 7/19/2020
Last updated: 9:48 PM 7/19/2020