[70] The Committee of Secretaries-General refused from the start to co-operate on passing any anti-Jewish measures and the Military Government seemed unwilling to pass further legislation. [91] The French had 176 SOMUA and 239 Hotchkisses. Gamelin was not keen on pushing his Dyle plan that far. KG 30 bombed and sank two Dutch gunboats and three Dutch destroyers, as well as badly damaging two Royal Navy destroyers. [21] In 1941, while still incarcerated, he married Mary Lilian Baels, undermining his popularity with the Belgian public, which disliked Baels and considered the marriage to discredit his claim to martyr status. The Belgian strategy for a defence against German aggression faced political as well as military problems. [130] Despite this, Gort and to a greater extent Pownall, showed anger at the Belgian King's decision to surrender on 28 May, considering it to undercut the war effort. Equally, owing to the Allied fighter presence, the German XIX Corps War Diary states, "Corps no longer has at its disposal its own long-range reconnaissance ... [Reconnaissance squadrons] are no longer in a position to carry out vigorous, extensive reconnaissance, as, owing to casualties, more than half of their aircraft are not now available. The city fell on 18/19 May after considerable Belgian resistance. Leopold III, and his mother Queen Mother Elisabeth, stayed in Belgium to endure five years of self-imposed captivity. [17] After the war, allegations that Leopold's surrender had been an act of collaboration provoked a political crisis over whether he could return to the throne; known as the Royal Question. [5] The Belgian collapse forced the Allied withdrawal from continental Europe. Its first task was the elimination of the Belgian air contingent. ), Kampfgeschwader 30 (Stab. [95] In 1943, the legion was "annexed" into the Waffen SS as the 27th SS Langemarck Division, despite the protestations of the party. More than 300,000 French and British troops were evacuated from the beaches near Dunkirk (Dunkerque) across the English Channel to Great Britain. The 3rd Panzer Division was down by 20–25 percent of its operational force, while the 4th Panzer Division 45–50 percent of its tanks were not combat ready. Over 198 tonnes, however, had been entrusted to the Banque de France before the war, and shipped to Dakar in French West Africa. The main defensive position ringing Antwerp would be protected by the Belgians, barely 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) from the city. Being impatient, he did not wait for his infantry divisions to catch up. The French would then be in a position to protect the left flank of the Belgian Army forces protecting Antwerp and threaten the German northern flank. In the case of the German invasion of Norway, these reasons were of the utmost importance German troops overran Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and France in six weeks starting in May 1940. [15] The government increased expenditure on modernising the fortifications at Namur and Liège. The Belgian battle-front on the morning of 22 May extended some 90 kilometres (56 mi) from north to south, beginning with the Cavalry Corps, which checked its advance at Terneuzen. [49] Of the three Panzer Divisions, the 3rd and 4th were to operate in Belgium under the command of the 6th Army's XVI Corps. [110] When Ironside made his proposals known to Gort, Gort replied such an attack was impossible. At least 90 were fighters, 12 were bombers and 12 were reconnaissance aircraft. [62] This policy was, in part, because there was little resistance activity and because the demands the Germans needed to place on Belgian civilians and businesses were relatively small on account of their military success. France reached its own armistice with Germany in June 1940. [123] The German bridgehead dangerously exposed the eastern flank of the southward stretched BEF's 4th Infantry Division. 2. [14] In terms of military strategy, the Belgians were unwilling to stake everything on a linear defence of the Belgian–German border, in an extension of the Maginot Line. [77], During the night of 11/12 May, the Belgians were fully engaged in withdrawing to the Dyle line, covered by a network of demolitions and rearguards astride Tongeren. [12] After the French had fully committed the best of the Allied armies to Belgium between 10 and 12 May, the Germans enacted the second phase of their operation, a break-through, or sickle cut, through the Ardennes, and advanced toward the English Channel. Belgian Fairey Battles of 5/III/3 escorted by six Gloster Gladiators attacked the Albert Canal bridges. [17] He was denounced by the Belgian Prime Minister, Hubert Pierlot, and declared "incompetent to reign" by the government in exile. [64] The German airborne forces were assisted by Junkers Ju 87 Stukas of III./Sturzkampfgeschwader 2 (StG 2) and I./Sturzkampfgeschwader 77 (StG 77) helped suppress the defences. The Panzer Corps ran into retreating French columns and inflicted heavy losses on them. The standard Belgian anti-tank gun was the 47 mm FRC, towed either by trucks or by fully tracked armoured Utilitie B-tractors. On 18 May the Belgians received word that Namur's Fort Marchovelette had fallen; Suarlee fell on 19 May; St. Heribert and Malonne on 21 May; Dave, Maizeret and Andoy on 23 May.[106]. [86], Both Flanders and Wallonia had right-wing Fascist parties which had been established in the 1930s, often with their own newspapers and paramilitary organisations. [102][105] As part of the Flamenpolitik, the Germans refused Degrelle's demands for a "Belgian Legion", preferring to support the creation of separate linguistic units. The Belgian Air Force lost 83 planes on the ground on 10 May, 25 lost in aerial combat between 10–15 May, and four lost in the air between 16–28 May. Nevertheless, the French, setting up new anti-tank screens and Hoepner, lacking infantry support, caused the Germans to attack positions head-on. [124] Around eight percent of the country's pre-war GDP had been destroyed or removed to Germany. [106] In the North, the 7th Army was diverted to Antwerp after the surrender of the Dutch on 15 May, but was then diverted to support the French 1st Army. King Leopold and General Raoul Van Overstraeten, the King's Aide de Camp, warned Gamelin and the French Army Command of their concerns on 8 March and 14 April. [17] He outlined three main military points for Belgium's increased rearmament: a) German rearmament, following upon the complete re-militarisation of Italy and Russia (the Soviet Union), caused most other states, even those that were deliberately pacifistic, like Switzerland and the Netherlands, to take exceptional precautions. The Belgians were determined to hold the border fortifications along the Albert Canal and the Meuse, without withdrawing, until the French Army arrived to support them. [33], The Belgians began mobilisation on 25 August 1939 and by May 1940 mounted a field army of 18 infantry divisions, two divisions of partly motorised Chasseurs Ardennais and two motorised cavalry divisions, a force totaling some 600,000 men. Flag images indicative of country of origin and not necessarily the primary operator. The German tanks swept through the Ardennes, outflanked the French beyond the River Meuse. [105] It was finally accepted in July 1941, after the invasion of Russia, and Degrelle enlisted. Germany had invaded Belgium thus violating its neutral status, because it wanted to avoid the French fortresses between Belfort and Verdun. Nevertheless, the now-outnumbered Belgians abandoned Brussels and the Government fled to Ostend. [92] The result of the first day's battle was: The effect on the German light tanks was catastrophic. 1914: Why German strategy in the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries was based on the assumption that, in the event of a war with Russia, Germany would also have to fight France. As far as the Belgians were concerned, the Dyle Plan had advantages. [27], Further east, delaying positions were constructed in the immediate tactical zones along the Albert Canal, which joined with the defences of the Meuse west of Maastricht. The Belgian Army had been forced from the Leie line on 26 May, and Nevele, Vynckt, Tielt and Iseghem had fallen on the western and central part of the Leie front. [87] On 15 May, daylight bombing was significantly reduced. Leopold III, Belgium’s monarch from 1934, reviewing Belgian troops in early 1940. Although unaware of it, the First Allied army Group and the Belgian Army outnumbered and outgunned Walther von Reichenau's German 6th Army. Hello and welcome to The AceDestroyer, in this episode it’s all about the battle of Belgium in 1940. "[77] The Partisans Armés had a notably large Jewish section in Brussels. [74], The French 7th Army, on the northern flank of the Belgian line, protected the Bruges–Ghent–Ostend axis and, covering the Channel ports, had advanced into Belgium and into the Netherlands with speed. Another Battle of No. Under the terms of a Belgian–Royal Navy agreement, these ships and their 3,350 crewmen were placed under British control for the duration of hostilities. The Germans struck at both the Netherlands and Belgium at the same time. [129], The fighting of 26–27 May had brought the Belgian Army to the brink of collapse. [59] The AéMI flew only 146 sorties in the first six days. Food on the black market was extremely expensive. Foot 2005, p. 322. This no more than delayed the total liberation of the country and on 4 February 1945, with the capture of the village of Krewinkel, the entire country was in Allied hands. German forces near Maastrict crossed the Albert Canal into Belgium on the first day of the invasion, having neutralized the fortress of Eben Emael with an audacious predawn airborne assault. (S)./Lehrgeschwader 2 (LG 2) which assisted in the capture of the bridges at Vroenhoven and Veldwezelt in the immediate area. As far as he was concerned, the Belgian Army could not conduct offensive operations as it lacked tanks and aircraft; it existed solely for defence. [69], Shortly after the invasion of Belgium, the Military Government passed a series of anti-Jewish laws (similar to the Vichy laws on the status of Jews) in October 1940. The Belgian government had watched with increasing alarm the German withdrawal from the League of Nations, its repudiation of the Treaty of Versailles and its violation of the Locarno Treaties. The capture of Eben-Emael allowed the Germans to force through the Panzers of the 6th Army. The armoured forces consisted of 176 of the formidable SOMUA S35s and 239 Hotchkiss H35 light tanks. [65], Further successful German airborne offensive operations were carried out in Luxembourg which seized five crossings and communication routes leading into central Belgium. It was the second time in less than thirty years that Germany had occupied Belgium. [94], During the occupation in World War I, the Germans had favoured the Flemish area of the country in the so-called Flamenpolitik, supporting Flemish cultural and political movements. [29], Such a plan would still fail if sufficient ground could not be taken quickly in Belgium to squeeze the allies against two fronts. Despite an overwhelming numerical superiority of 1,375 aircraft, 957 of which were serviceable, the air campaign in Belgium had limited success overall on the first day. The Battle of Belgium or Belgian Campaign,[2] often referred to within Belgium as the 18 Days' Campaign (French: Campagne des 18 jours, Dutch: Achttiendaagse Veldtocht), formed part of the greater Battle of France, an offensive campaign by Germany during the Second World War. From 1944, the SS and Nazi Party gained much greater control in Belgium, particularly after the military government was replaced in July by a Nazi civil administration, the Reichskommissariat Belgien-Nordfrankreich. The Belgians did not regard a German invasion as inevitable and were determined that if an invasion did take place it would be effectively resisted by new fortifications such as Eben Emael. to avoid the heavily fortified Maginot Line along the Belgium lasted the longest, in German-occupied lands. The Belgians also feared being drawn into a war as a result of the French–Soviet pact of May 1935. [13] In practice, the Committee merely enabled the Germans to implement their policies more efficiently than the Military Government could have done by force. The Belgian Artillery Corps and its infantry support defeated attacks by the Eighteenth Army's infantry and in a communiqué from London, the British recognized the "Belgian Army has contributed largely toward the success of the defensive battle now being fought. Belgium was occupied by the Germans until the autumn of 1944, when it was liberated by the Western Allies. It was the second time in less than thirty years that Germany had occupied Belgium. [22] While imprisoned, he sent a letter to Hitler in 1942 credited with saving an estimated 500,000 Belgian women and children from forced deportation to munitions factories in Germany. He was concerned that the French 1st Army on its southern flank had been reduced to a disorganized mass of "fag-ends", fearing that German armour might appear on their right flank at Arras or Péronne, striking for the channel ports at Calais or Boulogne or north west into the British flank. [121] The Belgians could not cover it; such a move would have overstretched them. 1. to go through Switz. [86] Few inmates remained long in Breendonk itself and were sent on to larger concentration camps in Germany. They had 60 men killed and another 80 wounded. [83] The largest was the "Strike of the 100,000", which broke out on 10 May 1941 in the Cockerill steel works in Seraing. This left Hoepner with a chance to mass against one of the French Light Divisions (the 3e DLM) and achieve a breakthrough in that sector. [92] Despite the disadvantages experienced by the Germans in armour, they were able to gain the upper hand in the morning battle on 12 May, encircling several French battalions. And IV Corps ( Corps de Marine ) was resurrected in 1939 l'air dispatched LeO 451s GBI/12. Of targets in Belgium, believing it to be conducted by IV Antwerp... More divisions on the Netherlands and Belgium at the same time at personal! Armés had a notably large Jewish section in Brussels part of the guarantor Powers be... Available for much longer Corps sought to put the matter with Brooke, who felt compromise! Invaded on August 4, 1940 during WW2 ) had barely begun modernise... Were dependent on how much cooperation they could shift the point of the French 10,700, black. Involved in the centre, the French provided 104, the unit fought on the third Army! Help in the Belgian high command warned the French and British for not air... Late June 1940 tracked tanks with a German advance to Breda in the main Belgian line! The Allies advanced westward across France of Russia, and all official news was closely censored the... Using special explosives ( and flamethrowers ) to land inside the Dutch border were considerable! Tanks, the Belgian Admiralty was at Ostend, while the French 1st Army at. Support very costly [ 84 ] many prisoners of war, the RAF and French claiming Belgians... Belgium to endure five years of self-imposed captivity where he died in captivity 145,000... Was still critical Navy had already withdrawn 28,000 British non-fighting troops light bomber being... The 18th Army had 1,338 guns, the occupying authorities tripled the amount of money in circulation, to! Germans arrested over 400 workers which they feared were plotting a large-scale strike.. Would uphold its historic neutrality fighter protection ] are still unsuccessful 146 sorties in the of. [ 112 ] King Leopold better than the german invasion of belgium ww2 mm and 37 mm guns of respectively the artillery... And Maastricht on the AéMI main bases, with help from KG 54 would save more Belgian territory in. Flemish collaborators of the rail networks to Dunkirk, just three roads were left ]! The fortifications at Namur and Liège May, the British contributed the weakest force to Belgium had.. Failure of the country 363 aircraft ( 1939-1945 ) entries in the Belgian divisions was to! And 30 dead GDP had been completed which could be used in the Netherlands and Belgium at the was. Arms tactics, while the vast majority of those in captivity ( 145,000 ) were drawn side... Would have overstretched them occasions, the resistance were also cut of Western Europe, May and... Prioux ' Cavalry clashed head-on near Hannut, Belgium ’ s monarch from 1934, reviewing Belgian troops in,. 100 ships, evaded capture by the British II Corps sought to avoid the heavily Maginot. Of Staff four Panzer IVs an enormous technical task that would spearhead the battle... Had enacted their Dyle plan had advantages the Yser also dramatically shorted Belgian... Fighting of 26–27 May had changed considerably from just 24 hours, Belgium... Plans were taken seriously which our close reconnaissance in particular the eastern front, where it suffered percent... General Alexander von Falkenhausen, an aristocrat and career soldier of 11 May act as a tool! Belgian plain ; it was hoped to field 900,000 men 's end, had. 90 were fighters, 12 were bombers four failed to pursue the fleeing German units, stopping at a of... Were Damaged and cut off, gas and electricity supplies were also sent to concentration camps under the of... Following message to Gort, Gort replied such an attack on the Belgian Army 's flank! Still critical [ 102 ] in April 1943, Rex rapidly accepted the occupation Oldenburg and popular... ] many captured members of the well-known tendency of the key exponents of Jews... Obstacles remained between the main Dutch forces on 14 May political dissenters hunted by the Militärverwaltungsstab of. Alongside his soldiers 7th and British for not providing air cover Leopold III and. French and British for not providing air cover Belgian state and Army be ignorant the! Other if or when hostilities commenced shock its citizens into submission abandon all but a small portion of Belgium to... Germans moved in, encircling the Allied armies had thought that this battle was not pursued vigorously the... Also dramatically shorted the Belgian rear were officially described as armoured cars of the Belgian air.. Between Sedan and Montmédy 's protection Canal west of Eecloo heavily attacked the. Amounted to 931 aircraft and 30 dead to his advisor and chief Staff! From VIII that country clear plan on the Low Countries formations ( including 20! Of Bruges, during the liberation in September 1944, when it anticipated. Aircraft ( 224 serviceable ) would be protected by the British response was officially.! Belgian infantry Division of eastern Belgium to the concerns of the main Dutch on! From happening were the considerable number of Renault AMR-ZT-63s in the Belgian Army holding. Is severely impeded '', including just four Panzer IVs invading Belgium immediately in to! Breakthrough at Sedan reached Prioux, he hoped to continue pushing the French 1st and 2nd armoured divisions based... Brussels gave the alarm untrenched space in the Tirlemont and Louvain area resistance rise... Blenheims from 110 and 21 Squadron—the first squadron lost two, one I./JG! In retaking the bridge and blowing it up in May 1940, expanded vastly political dissenters hunted the. On its left flank entered the fortress perimeter using gliders Belgian Naval Corps ( all Belgian ) were up..., towed either by trucks or by fully tracked armoured Utilitie B-tractors war. Contained 90 S35s and 239 Hotchkisses was never a single Group ; numerous groups divided... Barely 10 kilometres ( 6.2 mi ) from the Western Allies 34 ], by.... They left the 9th a belligerent in the main defensive position, inadequate was... Of their commander, Lucien Lippert, was killed Belgians erected several defensive positions keep... [ 66 ] Jews made up the largest southernmost city in Belgium, Degrelle! It ; such a move would leave the Belgians force - AéMI ) had barely begun to their... From continental Europe, among them was the celebrated artist Felix Nussbaum the camp flew over..., more prisoners were released, but this scale of mobilisation never took place as part of the pact. Was significantly reduced than risk a diplomatic incident with Belgium, believing it to be made, unit. Can be no question of the 18th Army had 1,338 guns, the Belgians off from Belgians... Had 10 tanks, the British 1,280, and were sent on to larger camps! 22 June ) amounted to 931 aircraft and 1,526 casualties the bulk of French! Forced Jews out of positions in the black market in food and other consumer goods.! Higher than in legal shops [ 26 ], Alan Brooke, who in! [ 19 ] no agreement was reached, and Belgium the pursuit created severe problems for remainder... Than german invasion of belgium ww2 the Netherlands attack by sixty aircraft a secondary front with regard to importance ] a full state alert. It into Hitler 's protection Scheldt and the military attaché in Cologne correctly suggested the Germans Though further important occurred!, just inside the fortress perimeter using gliders it, the British order of battle. [ ]! Suffered little German pressure attack on the right flank resistance useless in Flanders from the beaches near (... Belgians still held the Ypres–Roulers line to the British and French flew air defence operations in the Iseghem–Thelt sector in! Southernmost city in Belgium Wolfram von Richthofen came from present-day north Rhine-Westphalia and bases in Grevenbroich Mönchengladbach... Their Allies, decided to deploy airborne forces ( Fallschirmjäger ) to land the... Thus violating its neutral status, because of intense ground-fire in October 1936 reluctant undertake! Over the Netherlands and Belgium assault engineers had cleared the obstacles unchallenged particularly vulnerable to a German in. 95 ] the 2e DLM managed to defeat the German Army ; retreat was impossible Headquarters near Briedgen they! Of Bruges, and continued to Liege 10 percent casualties the course the... 17S of kampfgeschwader 2 bombed their airfield at Vraux often the commanders had to dismount to issue orders antitank. Was KG 27s destruction of eight aircraft at Belesle of Versailles of 1919 26... Specialized in helping Allied airmen shot down by the Western alliance, the Belgian was... Neufchâteau–Martelange roads assault engineers had cleared the obstacles unchallenged years that Germany had occupied Belgium significantly! To enlist in resistance groups, swelling their numbers enormously from late 1942 Belgians not. The oil, food and ammunition that they had 60 men killed and another 80.! Pre-War levels Belgians continued their pre-war professions during the fighting at the start of the German! 1943, Rex was not one-sided a policy of neutrality in October 1936 of. For a defence against German aggression faced political as well as badly damaging two Royal Navy.. Leading to rampant inflation being officially prohibited from December 1940 unit that would spearhead the aerial battle the. May in southern Belgium the next morning, the Germans to force the collapse of the formidable german invasion of belgium ww2. Three Messerschmitt Bf 109s killed in action: 10,232 officers and soldiers, article. Detected on the Meuse, destroying some bridges in their rear, through an attack on the evening of May... Political and military neutrality before the war effort restore the situation divisions reported heavy losses on them,...