L'Armée Belge/Het Belgische Leger, 14'18
This website is intended to serve as a source of information about the Belgian Army during the First World War. While there is a growing body of literature that seeks to reexamine the full extent of atrocities committed by German forces during their occupation of Belgium , and thus some discussion of the Belgian civilian population during the war years, there are yet very few English-language sources on the Belgian military during this same period. This scarcity cannot be explained by a simple lack of interest alone. Any casual search for the topic will return a catalogue of discussion posts and sites from around the world that are each dedicated to sharing information about the Belgian Army of 1914-1918. It is likely that this interest will only increase with the centenary of the Great War.
There are three other, more tenable causes for why this subject remains without its deserved share of secondary sources. First, there is the issue of language; the vast majority of primary sources will prove inaccessible to any who are neither fluent in French or Flemish/Belgian Dutch. Secondly, regardless of one’s fluency in either of these languages, the primary source materials for this and other surrounding subjects were absent from Belgium for the entirety of the second half of the twentieth century. These archives had been seized by the occupying German forces during the Second World War and removed to Berlin, where they were in turn discovered by Soviet forces in 1945 and removed to Moscow. The documents, covering roughly from the 1870s to the 1930s, were finally returned to Belgium in 2002, and they are now housed in the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History in Brussels. A third explanation for the want of English-language literature on the Belgian Army in World War I is the prevailing misconception that the Belgian forces were only marginally involved in the conflict after 1914. This was certainly not the case, and it is the intention of this website to show that “gallant little Belgium” continued to make significant contributions to the Allied war effort through to the armistice in 1918.
This site will remain a work-in-progress, with additions and corrections being made along the way. It is hoped that others will contribute their knowledge and source materials to this page. It is also hoped that this site will eventually feature a discussion forum so that questions/information can be more easily and publicly shared. Please continue on to the Introduction, or feel free to explore the site using the links below.