Feature Articles - Brave Little Belgium - Summary

The six divisions of the Belgian army, the worst-prepared of all those engaged in 1914 in the fighting in the West, had played a major part in the decisive defeat of the Germans.

The delays and losses suffered by the Germans in battling through Belgium had enormous consequences on the rest of the war, and arguably on the outcome of the war.

The delays and disorganisation created in part by the resistance at Liege, Namur, along the Gette and in the forays from Antwerp:

  • allowed the BEF to take up an advanced position at Mons, and inflict an important loss and delay;
  • allowed the defence of Paris to be organised, under Gallieni;
  • created disharmony between Von Bulow and Von Kluck and lead to their convergent move southwards
  • allowed Joffre to bring together the units of Maunoury's Sixth Army, who struck the counter-blow on the Marne.

The stiff resistance at Antwerp and on the Yser diverted German attention from breaking through the British and French at Ypres, and helped therefore to create the Salient.

The flooding of the polder country denied the Germans any possibility of a strong breakthrough along the coast, with its potential for rolling up the Allied line from the North.

Whilst the Belgians fought no major action once the lines had stabilised along the Yser, they played their part in providing diversionary actions in support of virtually every British and French attack.  They held on at Lizerne during Second Ypres.  And, in the advance of 1918, they broke German resistance at Houthulst and triumphantly recaptured Bruges.

The Belgian army suffered heavy casualties during the Great War.  Belgium itself was shattered: its towns badly damaged, its people treated cruelly; its economic wealth irreparably destroyed.  It is little short of a miracle that, despite the funding from Germany as war reparations, that it recovered.

Article contributed by Chris Baker, website.

Albert of Belgium, Emile Cammaerts, published by Ivor Nicholson and Watson, 1935

The War Diaries of King Albert, R.van Overstraeten, published by William Kimber, 1954

De Inval, Roger Lampaert, published by De Krijger, 1995

Stabilisatie in Vlaanderen, Roger Lampaert, publsihed by De Krijger, 1997

British Official History, 1914

The USA suffered 57,476 fatal army casualties during the war.

- Did you know?

Brave Little Belgium