Belgian Boy Scout Uniforms

Figure 1.--Here we see a group of Belgian Scouts right after World war II in 1946. We are not sure just which association represented here.

Scouting from its inception has been the major youthh movement in Belgium. There is not, however, a single unifoed national Scouting movement. Belgium is a combination of Dutch-speaking Flemish and French-speaking Waloons. Their association since modern Belgium was created after the Napoleonic Wars has been an unseasy. The younth organzations in Belgium have often followed the linguistic divide. Like many European countries, Belgium has several different Scout associations, often reflecting the linuistic devide and outlook on religion. The existence of these different associations greatly complicate the task of assessing the Scouting movement in Belgium.

Regions/Linguistic Groups

Belgium is divided between Dutch (Flemish) speaking Flanders and French speaking Walonia. Their association since modern Belgium was created after the Napoleonic Wars has been an unseasy. For much of Belgian history the French speaking Waloons dominated, much to the displeasure of the Flemish. The younth organzations in Belgium have often followed the linguistic divide. Some of the Belgian Scout associations reflect this linguistic divide and are either Fleshish or French speaking. There are areas in Belgium where the different language groups dominate as well as areas where the population is more mixed. We do not if boys in the mixed areas join groups which speak their primary language or if their is mixing based on other factors.Most Belgians can speak both lanuages, but their competency in their non-mother toubge varies. We are not sure if their is an association which mixes the two language groups and if so how the language difference is handled.


I have no information on early Belgian Scouting, but assume groups began to form at about the same time as in France. I have no information on how Belgian Scouting fared during World War I (1914-18). The Germans occupied almost all of the country for most of the War. I believe the Scouts were the most popular boys' youth group during the inter-war years and that there were several different associations, but have little information at this time. Germans in Belgium, especially Flanders organized Hitler Youtyh units. Right and left wing parties attemoted to organize youth units, but they had trouble competing wuth Scouting. The Germans had occupied almost all of Belgium during World War I. The Belgian Government at the onset of the German invasion in 1940 decided to send children to saftey in France. The comapse of the French Army, howeverm meant that Belgium was completely overrun and occupied. The German authorities in Belgium never conceived of a consisent policy toward Scouting. After arresting many Scout masters they then attempted to win Scouts over. Eventually theybtried to supress the movement. Ths proved difficult and the conduct of Belgian Scouts during the occupation is a proud heritage. have no information available yet on Belgian Scoting developments in the post-war era.


We have begun to collect some information about Belgian Scouts in different chronological periods. We have little information on early Belgian cout uniforms. We believe that the uniforms were quite similar to the British Scout uniforms. HBC believes the Scouts were the most popular boys' youth group during the inter-war years and that there were three principal associations, but have little information at this time. The were supressed during the occupation, but some Scouts continued to operate surepticiously. Relatively few Belgian boys joined the nationlist groups that the Germans permitted to organize in Flanders and Wallonie. The three principal Scout associations during the inter-war period were: Boy Scouts de Belgique, Federation des Scouts Catholiques, and Vlaamsch Verbond der Katholieke Scouts. German policy varied during the occupation, but the Scouts were supressed. There was a Rexist Organization youth group and also Hitler Youth groups, but I have few details. I think that there may have been boys involved in these groups in te early era of occupation during 1940-42, but by 1943 as the Germans became increasingly brutal and it became clearer that they were not going to win the war, membership in these groups became increasingly difficult to maintain. As with many European countries, there is no one single Scout association in Belgium. This is in part because of the differences between the two Belgian linguistic groups. Belgian has in fact several different Scout associations, each with different uniforms. The different groups are generally divided along linguistic-cultural lines, but most or at least nomimlly Catholic. There are also some Scout-like nationalist groups. These groups which compete with the Scouts (rarely will boys belong to both groups.). These competing groups seem more popular in Belgium than other European countries.


We do not yet have detailed information on the levels of Belgian Scouting. This is complicated somewhat by the fact that are several different associations with different uniforms. We do not know at this time if the different assovitions have different names for the different levels of Scouting are for that matter different level structures. We note Cubs and Scouts in the different associations, although we are not yet sure of thee precise French/Dutch language terms.

Sea Scouts

Belgium has a less pronounced sea faring tradition than the Netherlands to the north. There is, however, a Sea Scouting progrm in Belgium and Sea Scouting continures is an option available to many Belgian Scouts. The actual organization is somewhat complicated by the fact that there are several different Scout association in Belgium, also divided along French/Dutch linguistic lines. There is no one Belgian Sea Scout organization. As a result, the Sea Scouting program may vary considerable among different groups.

Scout Associations

We are not entirely sure at this time how Belgian Scouting is organized. It is much more complicated than Scouting in a country like America and Britain where there is one major Scout association. (America even has a low which prohibits any other groups besides the BSA from using the term Scout.) We note some separate associations in Flanders. Presumably there are also associations in Walonia. Some of the associations have religious orientations. There is probably also a nation-wide association as well as an umbrella national organizational greoup. We simply do not have details at this time. Hopefully our Belgian readers will provide us some details.

Various Scout Groups

We note some Scout groups that we are not sure how they fit into the overall structure. We do not know if they belong to one of the major associations or that they are small associations. Some may even be independent groups. Here we note Scout groups with individual names, but we know little about these groups at this time and have just begun to collect information.

Individual Experiences

We have only limited information on individul expeiences in Belgian Scouting.

Dutch boy in Belgian Scouting


A HBC reader suggests that HBU should consult the Belgian publication Patrouille des Castors' bandes desssines. He reports that the book charts changing Belgian scout uniforms over the course of years. HBU does not have copy, but hopefully our Belgian readers can provide us some information.


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Created: November 15, 1998
Last updated: 10:39 PM 12/29/2005