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Those little countrys

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by arneken, Mar 21, 2008.

  1. arneken

    arneken Member

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    hello all,

    I've been wondering this for several days now, wondering if I'll ask it. Like you know (or don't know) I'm from Belgium. Now Belgium has got the weakpoint that we were strategicly important in both ww1 and ww2. More in ww1 (paschendaele,mesin Ridge, the flooding of the yser) then in ww2. but still important. Many off you guys go on holidays to my country. Visiting the graveyards,the bulge,breendonk sometimes. but now I wonder.

    Do you guys have got any idea off what the Belgian-army did in ww2? how the resistance operated? How people over here lived? With other words how life in general was in Belgium between 1939-1945 and how people re-acted to the second German conquering?

    I sometimes got the feeling that the Little countries are forgotten in the those discussion about warefforts. Did you know that a little bunch a Belgian Commando's landed on d-day? That Belgian commando's liberated city's and towns in Italy and Sicilie fighting hard and losing comrades? That we had several good RAF-pilots over Europe and Africa? That we had Belgian commando' s under Canadian Command liberated Walcheren-island to make the harbor of Antwerp free?

    But not only Belgium. What about the Palestian pilot in the Battle of Britain or Iceland? Or the Dutch commando efforts? Or the little Luxembourgs who made it to GB and died afterwards in the war?

    How much do you guys credit those little countries in winning the war?

    I know that it was the efforts of the commonwealth and the usa and france that made the big difference, but let us not forget those brave fighters off the small countries.

    Thank you
    and
    Greetings

    Arne
     
    macrusk and Owen like this.
  2. bigfun

    bigfun Ace

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    Hey!! Great question!

    I try to read as much as possible on Holland's part in the war! (because my Fahter was born there) But you make a good point, I should try to read as much about ALL the countries involved!
     
  3. Owen

    Owen O

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    I remember them all Arne.
    From Trois-Ponts.
    [​IMG]

    From Vielsalm.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    from Luxemburg City.
    [​IMG]
     
  4. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    That is why we have rogues like you to remind us. I know of how the Belgian army performed but not much about the resistance due to lack of literary sources. I have researched how Belgian volunteers in the Waffen SS performed.
     
  5. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    I certainly know about it :). I have posted a few threads about the smaller and lesser known country's contributions and efforts. But some seem to just want to concentrate on the larger ones :(.
     
  6. Eichel

    Eichel Member

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    You make a very good point Arne. You have opened up my awareness.
     
  7. Ceraphix

    Ceraphix Member

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    I'm in the same boat as PzJgr. Don't know anything else :(.
     
  8. arneken

    arneken Member

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    Thank you all for you're kind words. Currently I'm translatating a text about Walcheren. And how the Belgian commando's did.

    @Wessex Wyvern: Some nice shots there mate.

    @JCFalkenbergIII : I will look those up and read them sometimes

    I also hope to translate somet hings aobut the resisitance but that will be a more long time effort.

    greetings Arne.
     
  9. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    The Belgian resistance had strong links with the French Resistance. The Comet network had agents on both sides of the border. Many airmen who landed in Belgium were smuggled to France by Belgian Resistants.
     
  10. macrusk

    macrusk Proud Daughter of a Canadian WWII Veteran

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    Hi Arne,

    I've been learning more about the Belgian and Dutch actions - or at least the specifics. My Dad's war as far as fighting was post July 1944 and as a Canadian, very concentrated in Belgium and Holland, so I was always aware of the Belgian and Dutch resistance. Since, with my shortage of reading time (less now I'm on the Forum so much) I'm nearly done Tug of War: The Canadian Victory that Opened by W. Denis Whitaker, DSC - I've learned much more. An excerpt:

    Meanwhile, the 9th Brigade saw action again on the 31st o fOctober when the SD&G [Stormont & Glengarry Highlanders] and HLI [Royal Hamilton Light Infantry] crossed a north-south canal and established a bridgehead at Retranchement, an ancient village near the Dutch/Belgian border, whose fortifications dated back to the Napoleonic era. The North Nova Scotia Highlanders passed through with orders to deploy across the Belgian border towards Knocke. Advancing during the night and surprising the Germans alonog the way, the Novas took many prisoners including a German colonel and his staff. However, a still bigger prize awaited them not far away: their final objective, the elegant seaside resort of Knocke. Poised at its boundaries, the battalions were planning a full scale attack with heavy artillery and air bombardment to capture this last German outpost.

    What occurred can only be described as the miracle of Knocke. ON the night of October 31, 1944, one Camille Vervarcke, a member of the Belgian Underground, came out of his attic hideout for a brief walk, and made a discovery that was to save his hometown of Knocke in Belgium and many of its citizens from certain destruction.

    Throughout the war years, Vervarcke’s job had been to utilize his skill as an artist in drawing maps of defences; these sketches were then sent by the underground route to the war office in London. He spoke fluent English, so Vervarcke was also required to take note of all news bulletins from the BBC and to make reports on their contents to the local head of the Resistance. Then in 1943, the young Resistance worker was arrested and sent to a forced labour camp.

    In the fall of 1944, he had escaped from the Gestapo, making his way cautiously back to his home in the town of Knocke, where for the next year he was forced to go into hiding. It was, however, his custom to take a nocturnal stroll, and it was on one of these secret outings that Vervarcke made his discovery.

    Just around the corner from where Vervarcke had been in hiding from the Gestapo, two hundred Canadian troops had been held prisoner in the cellar of a large garage. Some of these men were members of the Régiment de la Chaudière. However, standing in front of the garage on Kustlaan Bunnen that night, brandishing German guns, were several of the Canadian prisoners, now clearly in control of their captors.

    Young Vervarcke immediately went to the house of his commander on Elizabethlaan to report this news. He discovered from other agents that the Canadian troops, who were poised for attack on the outskirts of the city, had sent advance patrols towards the city, and that the Germans were in full retreat. Vervarcke was instructed to report these findings directly to the Canadian authorities. Immediately, he sent out in the night on his bicycle, crossing the German lines. Finally, he came upon the HQ of the SD&G. In Vervarcke’s words: “The officer asked me to guide his men in a Bren gun carrier through the minefields. ‘You will ride in the first one! They told me. I was happy because I expected to ride triumphantly with the first troops into Knocke. However, we were stopped further along the road and I had to repeat my story several times more. Finally, they asked for a password. I had not been given one, but I remembered that my commander signed his papers ‘ALEXANDER 7001,’ which proved to be the correct password.”

    Officers of the SD&G still remember the last-minute orders cancelling the artillery barrage that would have flattened Knocke. For this heroic service Vervarcke was awarded the Croix de Guerre with Bar, equivalent to the Military Cross.

    The last German stragglers at Knocke surrendered to the North Novas on the 2nd of November and after neutralizing three or four enclaves on the coast near Heyst, which afforded little opposition, the Battle of Breskens Pocket was over.


    Please note that the Breskens Pocket was a brutal slog so this was truly a miracle story.
     
  11. Jim Baker

    Jim Baker Member

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    Very interesting topic.

    I've always had the utmost respect for the various resistance groups. First, for their patriotism, and second for their bravery. Those people knew if they were caught, it was almost certainly a death sentence.

    You gotta love them......
     
  12. Owen

    Owen O

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    Just bought this on ebay for a fiver.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  13. macrusk

    macrusk Proud Daughter of a Canadian WWII Veteran

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    I am quite envious. Could you share the publishing information? Thanks!
     
  14. bigfun

    bigfun Ace

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    Nice find WW!

    I am slowly turning my interests to everything that happened in Holland during the war. I just recently finished 2 books that were great! The first was, The Way It Was, by Sid Baron. The second was The Hunger Winter, by Henri Van Der Zee.

    Arne, if you have any suggestions on what to read about both Belgium or Holland, I would appreciate your recommendation!

    Thanks!
     
  15. arneken

    arneken Member

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    The book of wessex Wyvern is a fine example. Nice buy!
    @macrusk: A fine pice you posted there thanks !

    I have read some fine books about Belgium and Holland in ww2.

    Kriegsberichter and Mussertmannen
    about Dutch soldiers in the ss. (I read these in Dutch)
    The Quest for Freedom: Belgian Resistance in World War II.
    Agent for the Resistance: A Belgian Saboteur in World War II.
    Child at War: The True Story of a Young Belgian Resistance Fighter.

    I read those books some years ago, wich I lend from a fellow ww2 enthousiast. Unfortunately I lost contact with him.

    And I think this site can be a help to:Books tagged french resistance | LibraryThing

    I hope I helped you guys a bit. If you got more books abou this subject please post.

    Arneken
     
  16. macrusk

    macrusk Proud Daughter of a Canadian WWII Veteran

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    Scott,

    You might be interested in looking for books related to the Canadian campaigns in NW Europe as inevitably they will talk about the liberation of the Netherlands. The ones written by men who were actually there tend to include more specific stories regarding the resistance and the Dutch and/or Belgian or other countries soldiers who fought with them.

    A great book I got this year was Canada and The Liberation of The Netherlands, May 1945 by Lance Goddard ISBN-10: 1-55002-547-3 I got it at Amazon.ca While only about 240 pages, it does start just prior to Germany's occupation.
     
  17. Owen

    Owen O

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  18. Owen

    Owen O

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  19. Owen

    Owen O

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  20. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    A very fair point, Arne - and in a time when people almost seem to forget the efforts of the major Allies, the 'smaller countries' are overlooked.

    But, speaking only for myself, I well know the exploits of such pilots as Charles Demoulin, Jean Offenberg and of course the famous 'Cheval' Lallemant. And in this country, of course, there is the legend of 'Popski'. The sufferings of the civilians caught in the Ardennes offensive are well-known to anyone who studies that battle. As for the Netherlands, there is a strong fellow-feeling in the UK, mainly due to 'Arnhem'.
     

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