The World at War

BELGIUM 1939 - 1951

BELGIUM Timeline

The Second World War & Aftermath
 September 3 France and Great Britain declare war on Germany. Belgium decrees a general mobilization to assure her neutrality.
 September 5 The Government issues a formal proclamation of Belgian neutrality.
 September Sabena moves the European terminus of its Congo air route from Brussels to Marseilles.
 October 26 King Leopold appeals for American support, “in the attitude we have adopted for the good of peace in the service of civilization.” during a broadcast to the United States.  
November 7 King Leopold makes an unexpected visit to The Hague. The King and Queen Wilhelmina issue a second offer of good services in mediating the dispute between warring powers.
 November 8 The King calls an emergency cabinet meeting to consider a defensive military alliance with the Netherlands.
 November 23 Belgian and Dutch governments make separate protests against extension of the Anglo-French blockade to include German goods exported through neutral countries.
 December 19 Premier Spaak tells the Chamber of Deputies, “ Belgium would never be indifferent should the independence of the Netherlands be threatened.”  
December Belgium reaches agreement with Britain and France permitting importation of food in prewar quantities without submission to Allied blockade regulations.
 January 10 Two German officers on board a courier plane carrying the plans for the western offensive accidentally land at Mechelen sur Meuse in the Belgian province of Limburg. The Allies learn that Hitler intends to violate Belgian neutrality in a spring attack.
 January 31 General van den Bergen, who favors cooperation with the Allies, is replaced as Chief of Staff by General Michiels.
 February 14 Belgium, Great Britain and France sign a trade agreement designed to halt re-exports to Germany.
 March 20 Communist publications are banned. Communist deputies are threatened with expulsion from the Chamber.
 April 25 The Pierlot cabinet submits its resignation owing to Liberal opposition to bilingual education policies. The King refuses to accept it. Leopold says that it is, “no time for ministerial crises on purely internal grounds”.  
May 3 Colonel Oster of the Abwehr secretly informs the Dutch military attaché in Berlin that an attack on the Low Countries is imminent. The Hague passes the information on to Brussels.
 May 4 The Papal Nuncio in Brussels informs King Leopold that the Vatican has learned that a German attack on Belgium is imminent.
 May 6 Pope Pius XII confirms his Nuncio’s allegation of an impending German attack on Belgium in an audience with Princess Jose-Marie, wife of Italian Crown Prince Humbert and sister of King Leopold.  
May 7 A French pilot returning from a leaflet drop over Dusseldorf reports sighting a 60 mile long German armored column advancing on the Ardennes.
 May 8 The Belgian ambassador in Berlin reports that the German Foreign Office is preparing to present an ultimatum. His military attaché reports later in the day that the German military command has ordered the western offensive to proceed.
Le Vingtième Siècle halts publication. Eight years will pass before comic strip readers learn the conclusion of the Tintin episode in progress Tintin in the Land of Black Gold.
 May 10 Case Yellow, the German offensive in the west begins.
0400 – The first German bombers appear over Brussels. German gliders are sighted over Fort Eben Emael which guards the junction of the Meuse and the Albert Canal north of Liege. The Belgian government appeals to Great Britain and France for assistance. 0530 – German Army Group B under General von Bock advances towards the Belgian defensive line along the Albert Canal, German Army Group A under General von Rundstedt strikes through the “impenetrable” Ardennes between Liege and the Moselle, General Georges orders General Billotte to prepare French Army Group I to move into Belgium. Nine gliders carrying Sturmabteilung Koch, an 80 man team of German military engineers, land atop Fort Eben-Emael. The engineers using shaped charges silence the guns of Europe’s most modern fortress in a 20 minute operation. German troops seize three bridges across the Albert Canal. 0630 - General Gamelin orders Allied troops into Belgium; the British Expeditionary Force and the French 7th Army are to establish a line on the Dyle between Louvain and Namur, the French 9th is to hold the west bank of the Meuse between Namur and Sedan.
0730 - The German ambassador to Brussels hands Foreign Minister Spaak a note stating German intent to occupy Belgium, “to insure its neutrality... with all the Reich’s military means of power” in view of “incontrovertible proof that an Anglo-French attack on Germany is immediately imminent and that thisattack will take place against the Ruhr over Belgium and the Netherlands.” Spaak replies that Belgium will, “resist to the death.” Fascist leader Joris van Severen is arrested by Belgian authorities.
 May 11 The Belgian Air Force launches an unsuccessful bombing raid on German held bridges over the Albert Canal.
Major Jottrand surrenders Fort Eben Emael to the Germans.
A French bombing raid on the Albert Canal bridges fails.
 May 12 A Royal Air Force bombing raid on the Albert Canal Bridges fails.
 May 13 - 14 Rommel’s 7th Panzer Division drives the French 5th Division from the Belgian Ardennes.  
May 14 - 15 Germans break through Allied line between Namur and Sedan.
 May 15 King Leopold meets with Premier Pierlot at Breendonck and informs his minister that he has no intention of following the Allied retreat into France or fleeing the country with the Government. The King declares that he will withdraw Belgian forces northward in the direction of Antwerp.
 May 17 The Government withdraws from Brussels to Ostend.
Premier Pierlot writes King Leopold to inform him of the Government’s insistence that Belgian forces retreat in unison with the Allies and that under no circumstance is he to allow his capture by the Germans. Leopold reply’s, “if the Allies are beaten... Belgium has no further obligation to them... Belgium has assumed no other engagement to its guarantors than that of defending its own territory.” The German 7th Army enters Brussels.
 May 19 Eupen, Malmedy and Moresnet are annexed to the German Reich.
 May 20 Alexander von Falkenhausen is appointed German military governor of Belgium.
Joris van Severen, Flemish fascist, is executed by French military authorities in Abbeville.
Forty Allied divisions are encircled in Flanders.
 May 21 King Leopold meets with General Weygand and Lord Gort at Bruges and informs them that Belgium’s position is hopeless unless further Allied support is forthcoming.  
May 24 The Belgian Government leaves Ostend for Paris. Premier Pierlot and 3 ministers remain with the King in hope of persuading him to join the Government in Paris.
Pierlot and the ministers meet with the King later that evening at the Chateau de Wynendael near Thourout. The King refuses to leave the country and insists that the Government remain in Belgium with him. The Ministers protest that the Belgian cause might be irreparably lost should the King and his government fall into German hands.
 May 25 Premier Pierlot, Foreign Minster Spaak and the other remaining cabinet members leave Ostend for Paris via London.
King Leopold issues a call for Belgian forces to continue to resist the invasion but in the afternoon informs his British liason officers that he has no choice but to surrender.
Agreement is reached between the British War Office and the Belgian military attaché in London to regroup surviving elements of the Belgian Army at Penally Camp in Wales. Lieutenant General Denis is appointed commander of the Belgian Military Regroupment Camp.
 May 26 King Leopold phones Premier Pierlot in London and requests a cabinet member’s signature on two blank decrees. The cabinet meets in Paris later in the day and all 13 members decline to honor the King’s request.  
May 27 King Leopold sends an emissary to ask the Germans for armistice terms. The Germans demand an unconditional surrender by 4 am the following morning. The Belgian cabinet meets in Paris and refuses to approve the surrender.
 May 28 At 4 a.m., King Léopold surrenders: 225,000 Belgians fall prisoner to the Germans.
  The King is taken prisoner and held under guard at the Laeken Palace near Brussels.
Prime Minister Pierlot declares, “By breaking the link uniting Him to His people, the King placed Himself under the power of the invader. As a consequence, he is no longer in a position to govern, as obviously the function of Chief of the State cannot be carried out under foreign control. Officers and civil servants are released from their duty of obedience as imposed on them by their oath of allegiance.” The Government informs the Governor General of the Congo, Pierre Ryckmans, that Belgium is still at war and he is to ignore the King’s actions.  
May 30 The Belgian cabinet meets in Paris and issues a decree denying the King’s right to rule and prolonging its own powers for the duration of the war.  
May Rexist leader Léon Degrelle is arrested in France and interned at Vernet in the French Pyrenees.
 May 31 Exiled members of the Belgian Parliament meet in Limoges, France and give a unanimous vote of approval to the cabinet’s course of action.  
June 23 Following the capitulation of France, two Belgian ministers are dispatched to London to maintain contact with the British Government. Premier Pierlot and the remainder of the cabinet establish the Belgian Government at Vichy.
 June Lieutenant General van Strydonck is appointed Commander of Belgian Forces in Great Britain.
 June 25 Ships of the Belgian Naval Corps are interned in Spain with the exception of patrol boat P-16 which escapes to England, where it is recommissioned as HMS Kernot.
 June 26 The Belgian Naval Corps disbands and the sailors are incorporated into the Belgian Army in Great Britain.
 July 1 Foreign diplomatic missions including the Papal Nuncio are ordered to depart Belgium within two weeks.
 July 21 The Belgian ambassador in London speaking on a BBC broadcast declares that the Government considers the King a prisoner of war and not a traitor.
The Belgian Military Regroupment Camp in Wales houses 462 men.
 July 22 Vichy releases Rexist leader Léon Degrelle from the Vernet internment camp.
July German authorities devalue the belga 50% fixing the exchange rate at 2.5 belgas to the reichsmark vs the prewar rate of 1.67 belgas to the reichsmark.
 August 11 Twenty nine escaped Belgian pilots begin service with various squadrons of RAF Fighter Command. Belgians score 21 confirmed and 6 probable victories by the end of the Battle of Britain in October. Six Belgian pilots are killed in action.
 August Breendonck fortress is commandeered by the Germans for use as an internment camp for political prisoners, resistance fighters, black marketers and Jews of foreign nationality.
 September Vichy withdraws recognition from the Belgian Government. Premier Pierlot and Foreign Minister Spaak depart for London via Spain after releasing the remaining cabinet ministers from their oaths of office.
 September 19 King Léopold meets with Hitler at Berchtesgaden but fails to gain the release of Belgian prisoners of war.
September The British Royal Navy establishes a Belgian Section at the urging of State Navy Lieutenant Victor Billet. The officers and men of the Belgian Section eventually man two corvettes (HMS Buttercup and HMS Godetia), the 118th squadron of mine sweepers and three patrol boats (HMS Phrontis, HMS Electra and HMS Kernot).
 October 17 Publication of the comic strip Tintin resumes in Le Soir Jeunesse, a weekly supplement to the daily newspaper Le Soir. The artist Hergé begins a new espisode entitled The Crab with the Golden Claws rather than finishing In the Land of Black Gold.
 October 22 Premier Pierlot and Foreign Minister Spaak arrive in London after a month of detention in Spain.
 October 28 Belgium’s Jews are ordered to conduct a census and draw up a list of all their enterprises and occupations. Jews are barred from the civil service, legal and teaching professions, and the press.  
October 31 Spain withdraws recognition from the Belgian Government. The unauthorized departure of Pierlot and Spaak is cited as the reason for expelling the Belgian ambassador from Spain.
 November 6 Flemish priest Cyriel Verschaeve proclaimed president of the Flemish Cultural Council, a German front organization. Verschaeve advocates annexation of Flanders to the Reich and attempts to reconcile Nazism and Christianity in an essay entitled Europa und der neue Glaube (Europe and the New World).
 November Flemish POWs from the enlisted ranks are released as a gesture of German goodwill.
 December 13 The Government issues a decree mobilizing Belgians in all unoccupied territories belonging to the military classes of 1925-’41 to serve as the nucleus of a new military force to be organized in Great Britain.  
December 23 Jews who entered Belgium after 1938 are expelled from Antwerp and resettled in rural towns and villages in Limburg province. They are allowed to return in April.
 March Le Front d’Independence, a Communist resistance group is formed.  
April 14 Antwerp synagogues and the home of a Rabbi are attacked by anti-Semites after a screening of The Eternal Jew at a meeting of the Volksverwering, a pro-Nazi “People’s Defense Committee” led by Ren Lambrichts.  
April The Belgian Government in Exile files suit in New York against the Bank of France seeking to recover $260,000,000 in gold sent to France for safe keeping during the invasion. The gold was taken to Dakar, French West Africa and later turned over to the Germans.
 May 31 Jews are ordered to display signs identifying their businesses as Jewish and to declare their capital and other assets (including real estate). Bank withdrawals by Jews restricted to a fixed monthly amount.
 May Occupation authorities permit two collaborationist political parties to function, the Rexists in Wallonia and the Verbond van Dietsche Nationaal Solidaristen aka the Verdinaso in Flanders.
M. C. Camus, Minister of Colonies, is killed in an air raid on London.
 June 27 Hitler approves plans to raise national legions in the occupied countries to serve as anti-Bolshevik units fighting along side the German armies on the Eastern Front. Belgium raises two: the Flemish SS Vlaams Legioen and the Walloon Wehrmacht unit Légion Wallonie.
 June 30 Mayors, aldermen and officials over age 60 dismissed from office. This measure according to the Journal de Charleroi, “immobilized those men who are the strongest enemies of the New Order.” The Mayor of Brussels, Doctor Vandemeulebroeck, refuses to resign and publishes a proclamation denouncing the illegality of the German administration. The mayor, Brussels police commissioner and the proprietor of the printing works that published the mayor’s manifesto are arrested and a 5 million franc fine levied on the city’s citizens. A German appointed Interior Minister is given authority powers of appointment and dismissal over local officials including mayors, police and school teachers.
 June A company of volunteers recruited from Belgian citizens living in Canada arrives in Great Britain.
 July A German decree orders Dutch introduced as a language of instruction at the University of Brussels.
 August 6 Formation of the Vlaams Legioen is announced officially. The first volunteers parade before the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels.
 August 7 Foreign Minister Spaak reaches agreement with the Soviet ambassador to London for a resumption of diplomatic relations between Belgium and the Soviet Union.
 August 8 Eight hundred sixty volunteers of the Légion Wallonie depart Brussels’ Gare du Nord railroad station for training and the Eastern Front. Rexists leader Léon Degrelle joins them as a private soldier (the Germans having turned down his request for a commission oweing to a complete lack of military experience).
August 26 Belgium’s Masonic lodges and affiliated institutions are dissolved and their property expropriated.  
August 29 Jews are restricted to certain areas of Brussels, Antwerp, Leige and Charleroi and subject to a nightly curfew, from 8: 00 pm to 7: 00 am
 September 11 King Léopold marries 25 year old Liliane Baëls in a religious ceremony.
 November 2 The Legion Wallonie sees its first combat against partisans in Poland.
 November 24 The Vlaams Legion sees its first combat against the Red Army in Latvia.
 November 25 The Association des Juifs en Belgique (Association of Jews in Belgium; AJB), to which every Jew must belong, is established by decree.
 December 4 The Belgian National Legion of War Veterans is dissolved and 61 of its leaders court martialed for anti-German conspiracy.
 December 6 The marriage of King Léopold and Liliane Baëls is confirmed in a civil ceremony.
 December The University of Brussels is forced to close and ten of its top officials are arrested for protesting the appointment of three Flemish professors convicted of collaboration during the First World War.
 January 6 Major Jean Baptise Piron lands in Greenock, Scotland completing his escape from Belgium via France, Spain and Gibraltar.
 January 17 Jews are forbidden to leave Belgium.
 February 15 Cardinal Van Roey, Archbishop of Malines and Primate of Belgium, issues a pastoral letter strongly criticizing the German “New Order”.  
March 13 Amis du Grand Reich allemand (Friends of the Greater German Reich) founded in Liège by Rexist dissidents opposed to Degrelle’s leadership.  March
Systematic liquidation of Jewish businesses in the textile, leather, and diamond industries begins.
 April 13 A court martial in Ghent sentences 13 members of the White Brigade resistance to death for possession of fire arms and spreading anti-German propaganda.
 April 16 Belgian sources in London announce that the Belgian Socialist Party has clandestinely reconstituted itself and is distributing a detailed program of post-war action through underground channels. The program calls an inquiry into the capitulation of the Army in 1940 and a purge of collaborators in the administration.
 April 29 A chemical works at Tessenderloo is destroyed by saboteurs. An explosion levels the factory and an adjacent village killing 250 persons and injuring 2,000.
 April Jews are expelled from the public school system.
 May 8 Cardinal Van Roey and the Catholic Bishops of Belgium deliver a written protest to General Von Falkenhausen against his decree requiring compulsory labor in Belgian coal mines on Sundays. The Bishops term it a violation of the conscience and religious liberty of the Catholic population. Von Falkenhausen replies that the Church could more suitably collaborate in the struggle against Bolshevism by granting dispensation of Sunday Mass to the miners.
The Independent Paratrooper Company is formed by order of the Commander of Belgian Ground Forces in Great Britain.
 May 27 Belgian Jews are ordered to wear a yellow Star of David on their outer clothing. The Association of Jews in Belgium of its own accord helps in distributing the badges, so that Jews can meet the June 3rd deadline for wearing it. The Belgian council of mayors had refused to cooperate with the distribution.
 June 4 A Status of Forces agreement is signed regularizing the relations of Belgian forces in Great Britain with the British armed forces and government departments. Provision is made for establishment of a Belgian section within the Royal Navy.
 June 16 The Government in Exile signs an agreement with the United States extending Lend-Lease aid to Belgium.
 July The Legion Wallonie suffers heavy casualties in fighting on the Don near Stalingrad.
Dossin barracks at Mechelen is converted for use as a transit camp for deportation of Jews to concentration camps in Poland.
 July 15 The Association of Jews in Belgium is ordered to set up a special bureau to coordinate a labor draft of Jews.
July 25 Members of the Communist resistance enter the offices of the Association of Belgian Jews and burn lists of Jews to be deported. The German authorities have their own copies and the raid has no effect on the deportations.
 August 4 The first transport of Jewish deportees leaves Dossin assembly camp in Mechelen for Auschwitz.
 August 19 Operation Jubilee – Raid on Dieppe: Lieutenant Victor Billet, founder of the Royal Navy’s Section Belge is killed while skippering LCT 159 transporting equipment for the Calgary Tank Regiment. Four of nine LSIs (Prince Leopold, Prince Albert, Prince Charles and Princess Astrid) used in the landing are converted Belgian ferries formerly serving on the Ostend – Dover run. The RAF 350th Belgian Squadron joins in providing air support to the landing. Squadron Leader Guillaume and Pilot Officer Dumonceau de Bergendael win Distinguished Flying Crosses.  August 31
Soviet spy network “Red Orchestra” dismantled in Brussels. Five hundred members are arrested of whom 50 are later executed.  
September 15 Comite de Defense des Juif (Jewish Defense Committee) is formed for the purpose of finding hiding places for Jewish children.
 September 24 Three members of the May 1940 cabinet, Minister of Communications Antoine Delfosse, Minister of Economic Affairs August de Schrijver and Minister of Labor August Balthazar escape to England.
 October 8 German authorities issue a decree conscripting Belgian males between the ages of 18 and 50 and unmarried female between 21 and 35 for compulsory labor in Belgium or Germany.
 December Belgian ground forces in Britain are reorganized. Major Jean Baptise Piron is appointed commander of the 1st Belgian Brigade. Though the unit goes through several redesignations over the remainder of the war it remains inexorably linked to its leader in common parlence as the “Piron Brigade”.  
1943 March 6 University students of both sexes are required to volunteer for six months of labor service by March 20 or lose their ration cards.
 March 10 German radio in Brussels announces the removal from office of Baron Albert Houtart, Governor of Brabant, last of nine provincial governors regularly appointed by the King to be ousted.
 March 20 The Belgian Supreme Court of Appeals in a letter to the occupation authorities denounces them for, “reducing the Belgian people to slavery...injustice and wrong opposition, not only to the dispositions of the Hague Convention..., but also to the imperious demands of conscience.”  
March 21 Catholic bishops issue a pastoral letter to be read in all churches denouncing deportations for forced labor in Germany.
 March The British government rebuffs Premier Pierlot’s request for a relaxation of the blockade to permit food shipments to Belgium.  
April Authorities order conscription of all farmers and farm workers born in 1922, ’23 and ’24 for work in the Reich.  
April 5 American bombers attack the Erla airplane factory and the Gevaert chemical works in a heavily populated suburb of Antwerp. The RAF follows up by bombing General Motors and Ford factories in Antwerp. Germans claim 2,006 civilian deaths in the raids but the Belgian underground press reports only 843 death certificates were filed.
 April 19 Resistance fighters halt Transport No.20 carrying Jews from the Mechelen transit camp to Auschwitz. 231 deportees, of whom 23 were later shot by guards, escape in the only recorded instance of an armed attack on a train taking Jews to their death.
 April 23 General von Falkenhausen decrees application of German law in Belgium whenever possible. The death sentence is made mandatory for possession of firearms or explosives, failure to report possession of such by other persons, failure of factory managers to prevent sabotage, hiding enemy soldiers and airmen and a host of other offenses that might prove, “detrimental to the prestige of the occupying power or to the Reich...”  
May 31 The Flemish SS Vlaams Legioen is renamed SS-Freiwilligen Sturmbrigade (later Division) Langemarck.
 June 1 The Legion Wallonie is tranferred from Wehrmacht to Waffen SS control as SS-Sturmbrigade Wallonien (later designated SS-Freiwilligen-Grenadier-Division Wallonien).
 August 28 Jewish partisans assassinate Robert Holcinger, leader of the Association of Jews in Belgium. Holcinger co-operated with the Germans in preparing lists of Jews to be deported under the “mobilization for labor” program.  
December General von Falkenhausen replaced as military governor by General Jungklaus.
 During the Year Merchant Navy Captain Eugene Colson of the Mouvement Royaliste et Nationale resistance gains access to German plans for destruction of Antwerp’s port facilities. Colson begins recruiting pilots, sailors and dockworkers to thwart the plan.  
1944 January The Red Army cuts off the SS Division Wallonie in the Cherkassy Pocket.
February The SS Division Wallonie breaks out of Cherkassy Pocket. The Division’s strength is reduced 70% during the 3 month campaign. February
S.O.E. operative Philippe de Liedekerke parachutes into Belgium to coordinate plans for the capture of Antwerp’s port with local resistance leaders. Competing factions including the White Brigade, Mouvement Royaliste et Nationale, Front d’Independence, Group G and Secret Army agree place themselves under command of Lieutenant of Engineers Urbain Reniers leader of the Secret Army. February 20
Leon Degrelle replaces Lucien Lippert as commander of the SS Division Wallonie.
 March 5 Leon Degrelle delivers an address to French collaborators at Paris’ Palais de Chaillot outlining plans for a revival of the dukedom of Burgundy to be formed from Wallonia, Burgundy and other territory in eastern France.  
June 6 Under orders from Hitler, the royal family is taken to a chateau on the banks of the Elbe.
 July 18 Joseph Grohé is named Reichskommissar for Belgium.
 July 31 An advance party of the Piron Brigade lands at Gold Beach, Arromanches, Normandy.
The twenty-eighth and final transport of Jewish deportees leaves Dossin camp at Mechelen for Auschwitz.
 July The Belgian SS divisions suffer heavy casualties in fighting along Narva River in Estonia.
 August 4 The Piron Brigade; 2,200 men and 500 vehicles board ships bound for Normandy.
 August 7 The main force of the Piron Brigade lands at Aromanches and Courseulles. The Brigade is attached to the 6th British Airborne Division of General Crerar’s 1st Canadian Army.  
August 13 Piron Brigade artillery begins shelling German positions at Battery Merville and along the Orne.
 August 17 The British 6th Airborne Division launches Operation Paddle to clear German forces from the region between the Orne and the Seine. The Piron Brigade seizes German positions commanding the heights above Franceville and Merville before joining the Dutch Princess Irene Brigade in mop up operations along the coast.
 August 22 The Piron Brigade liberates Deauville.
 August 28 The Piron Brigade comes under command of the British 49th West Riding Division.
 August 31 The Piron Brigade crosses the Seine and prepares to advance on Le Havre.
Resistance fighters sabotage rail junctions and mine German supply routes surrounding Antwerp.
 September 1 The Antwerp Resistance receives a message from London to commence harassing operations.
The German commander of Antwerp orders pilots to stand ready to scuttle ships in the navigation channel of the Scheldt.
 September 2 American troops enter Belgium and liberate Tournai.
The Piron Brigade is ordered to Arras to join the Guards Armoured Division for the advance into Belgium.
 September 3 Brussels is liberated by the British 2nd Army.
The Piron Brigade crosses the Belgian border at Rongy at 4:36 p.m.
Robert Vekemans, a civil engineer in the Antwerp resistance, halts the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Tank Regiment at the junction of the Brussels-Antwerp and Termonde roads. Vekeman leads the regiment to the only unguarded bridge on the River Rupel where he and two other civilians defuse demolition charges on span allowing the tanks to cross. Once across, the British fall back on the Germans guarding the main bridges and capture them intact.
Publication of occupation era newspapers is halted and journalists who worked on them are barred from work. Tintin creator Georges Remi aka Herge is among the banned “collaborationists”.  
September 4 Antwerp is liberated by British 2nd Army. Port facilities captured intact.
The Piron Brigade enters Brussels with the Guards Armoured Division at 3 p.m.
 September 5 The Treaty of London establishes the BeNeLux customs union.
 September 6 The 1st Polish Armoured Division crosses the Franco-Belgian frontier and liberates Ypres and Passchendaele.
 September 7 The 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, assisted by Belgian White Brigade resistance, occupies Veurnes, Nieuport and De Panne.
 September 8 The Government returns to Brussels from exile in London.
American troops aided by Piron Brigade reconnaissance teams liberate Liege.
The 2nd Canadian Infantry Division occupies Bruges following German withdrawal.
 September 8 – 10 Canadian and Polish forces encounter fierce German opposition along the Ghent Canal between Bruges and Ghent.
 September 9 The 2nd Canadian Infantry Division occupies the undefended city of Ostend on the English Channel. The Germans partially demolish the harbor facilities before withdrawing.
 September 11 The British advance crosses the Belgian frontier into the Netherlands.
 September 19 Parliament convenes and approves the establishment of a Regency headed by Prince Charles, Count of Flanders and brother of King Léopold III.
 September 21 Prince Charles is sworn in as the Regent. The Pierlot cabinet tenders its resignation.
 September 22 The Piron Brigade crosses the Dutch border and takes up defensive positions on the Wessem Canal.
 September 26 Premier Pierlot reconstitutes the old cabinet and adds four new ministers without portfolio including 2 Communists.
 September 28 Ostend harbor reopens to allied shipping.
 September Belgian SS Divisions evacuate Estonia by sea.
 October 5 The value of the franc fixed at 176 = £1 sterling, bank accounts are frozen, high denomination banknotes recalled and new currency printed in England is issued.
 October 6 Field Marshal Montgomery unleashes an offensive against German positions blocking the Scheldt estuary and Allied access to the port of Antwerp.
 November 8 Canadian and British forces clear German troops from Walchern Island at the mouth of the River Scheldt.
 November 13 Leon Degrelle travels to Sigmaringen to campaign for formation of a West Frie Corps under his command. The Corps would be composed of the Belgian SS Wallonie and Langemarck Divisions and the French SS Charlemagne Division. Marshal Petain refuses to receive him and exiled Vichyites in the Delegation for the Protection of French Interests give the idea a cool reception.
 November 16 Three cabinet ministers without portfolio including the two Communists resign in protest over the Government’s order for resistance forces to turn in their arms by November 18.  November 23
Leon Degrelle is appointed Volksführer der Wallonen and granted civil authority to act with full power over all French-speaking Belgians residing within the borders of the Reich.
 November 25 Street demonstrations to protest disarming of the Resistance end in violence. Brussels police kill four protesters in front of the Chamber of Deputies. Utility workers go on strike in support of the protest.
  November 28 Parliament passes an emergency powers bill. Premier Pierlot bans parades, mass meetings, demonstrations and strikes. British troops and Belgian police halt a column of armed demonstrators marching on Brussels from Mons.
A Canadian freighter leads the first Allied convoy to enter the port of Antwerp.
 December 16 A German counteroffensive, Operation Wacht am Rhin, begins at 0530 a.m. along a front stretching from Monschau to Echternach.
German commandos of Colonel Otto Skorzeny’s 150th SS Panzer Brigade attempt to capture bridges over the Meuse at Angier, Amee and Huys. Skorzeny’s men are dressed in American uniforms, driving captured American vehicles and had received training in English and American mannerisms. German V2 rocket hits an Antwerp cinema claiming 567 victims.
 December 17 Soldiers of the German 1st SS Panzer Division under command of Joachim Peiper murder 86 American prisoners following combat with the US 7th Division 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion at Baugnez near Malmedy.
Victor Matthys, deputy chief of the Rexist Movement, organizes a rally in Hildesheim, Germany to discuss a revival of Rexist activity in the expectation of German success in the western counteroffensive.
 December 18 The Germans launch an assault on the key crossroads city of Bastogne. The U.S. 101st Airborne and 10th Armored Divisions arrive to reinforce Bastogne’s defenders.  
Colonel Skorzeny abandons attempts to capture the Meuse bridges and launches a behind the lines disruption campaign with his commandos disguised as Americans.
German command orders SS Division Wallonie moved westward and placed in standby position for assuring the maintenance of order in reoccupied Belgium.
Evacuated Rexist politicians given permission to return to Belgium and resume their political activities. Party leader Victor Matthys decides to regroup at Gummersbach, near Cologne, and wait for events in Belgium to develop.
 December 19 German Foreign Office grants Degrelle limited powers to act as civil administrator in the Walloon territories which the Germans expected to reconquer.
 December 20 General von Manteuffel's 5th Panzer Army storms towards the Meuse.
American 3rd Army under General Patton begins marching to relieve Bastogne.
Bodies of over 100 Belgian civilians shot by units of 1st SS Panzer Division following allegations of German deaths from partisans discovered by US 3rd Armored Division in Stavelot, Ster, Parfondruy and Renardmont.
 December 22 German forces take Saint Vith after heavy fighting.
American troops in Bastogne surrounded. General McAuliffe responds to German surrender demands with one word, ”nuts”.  
 December 23 A snow storm ends. The fog lifts. The airlift of supplies to American troops holding Bastogne resumes.
 December 23 – 25 Confusion reigns in the German camp over use of Belgian SS divisions in the Ardennes counteroffensive. Belgian officers protest plans to utilize them on the Western Front after German transport officers show them railcars inscribed “ Brussels via Liege”. Berlin orders withdrawal of the Belgian divisions and Degrelle’s activities in the Ardennes campaign confined to politics.  
December 24 German Panzers advancing on the Meuse are halted near Dinant. The Germans give up their push towards Elsenborn and send the Panzer Divisions to reinforce troops besieging Bastogne.
Gestapo agents execute 35 civilians in the village of Bande.
 December 25 Leon Degrelle enters Belgium at Steinbach escorted by a small signals group and a German aide de camp.
 December 26 The U.S. 4th Armored Division breaks through the German line at Assenois to relieve Bastogne.
December 27 American ambulance convoy removes wounded from Bastogne via the Assenois corridor.
 December 28 The American 2nd, 9th and 99th Infantry Divisions counter attack. German commanders concede inability to reach the initial objective, the port of Antwerp.
 December 29 Léon Degrelle is sentenced in absentia to death.
 December 30 An all out German attack on Bastogne aimed at cutting off the Assenois "corridor" fails.
 January 1 A coach transporting Rexist politicians, among them Victor Matthys, arrives at Limelé. Degrelle moves to Limerlé the following evening.
The Luftwaffe launches its last major offensive strike.
The British 30th Corps is deployed between Bure and Hotton.
 January 3 General Manteuffel launches a final German attack on Bastogne.
The American 1st Army launches a counteroffensive in the direction of Houffalize.
 January 10 Leon Degrelle leaves Belgium for the last time.
The American 1st Army continues the offensive in the direction of Houffalize and Saint Vith.
 January 11 British troops take Saint-Hubert and La Roche en Ardennes, the Americans take Bonneme, Pirompre and Vesqueville.
 January 12 The American 3rd Army under General George S. Patton Jr. takes Amberloup, Lavacherie, Fosset and Sprimont.
 January 13 New Allied offensive begins between Stavelot and Malmédy.
 January 16 The American 1st Army under General Courtney Hodges links up with Pattons’ 3rd Army at Houffalize. Allied forces begin counterattack in the direction of the German frontier. The last German shell drops on Bastogne.
 January 22 German 6th Panzer Division under General Dietrich withdraws to the River Our. The Allied advance continues between Houffalize and Saint Vith. American troops cross into Luxembourg.
 January 23 The U.S. 7th Armored Division liberates Saint Vith.
 February 11 Socialist Achille Van Acker succeeds Hubert Pierlot as Premier. Foreign Minister Paul Henri Spaak is the only hold over from the London cabinet.
 March 1 The SS Langemarck Division engaged in combat for the last time against the Red Army at Altdamm.
 March 30 The Rexist Movement dissolves at a meeting in the backroom of a beerhall in Bockenrode near Hanover, Germany.
 March Coal supplies reach a level permitting the generation of electricity on a 24 hour basis.
 April 27 Remnants of the SS Division Wallonie launch a final counter-attack at Schönwerder near Penzlau.
 May 3 Final remnants of the SS Division Wallonie retreat to Schleswig-Holstein; others surrender at Brandenburg and Schwerin.
 May 8 King Léopold is liberated at Stroll, Austria.
Leon Degrelle escapes from Germany by airplane. Degrelle’s plane crash lands on a beach near San Sebastion, Spain. The former Rexist leader is interned at a military hospital.  
May 10 Premier van Acker flies to Austria for a meeting with King Leopold. The Premier abandons plans to return the King to Brussels after finding the monarch to in his judgement, be in a state of “neurotic instability of mind which made him unfit to govern.” Survivors of the SS Langemarck Division surrender to British forces at Mecklenburg.
 May 13 Premier van Acker returns to Brussels and announces that the King will not be back for some time due to ill health.
 May 15 The Piron Brigade begins occupation duty in Munster and surrounding areas in the British Zone of Germany.
 June 16 King Leopold makes it known that he has fully recovered and is prepared to resume his royal functions. Premier van Acker and the cabinet tender their resignations and issue a communiqué declaring that the Government cannot, “take responsibility for political events that inevitably will happen as soon as the King returns.” Prince Charles refuses to accept the resignations.  
June King Leopold summons several politicians to his residence in Austria in a failed attempt to form a government. Former Premier Paul van Zeeland and resistance hero General van der Meersch are among those turning down the King’s request. Unions threaten a General Strike should the King return.  
July 10 Civil aviation resumes. A Sabena Lockheed Lodestar arrives at Brussel’s Haren airfield from the Congo.  July 16
Premier van Acker announces that the cabinet will remain in office and announces that King Leopold though refusing to abdicate will not return for the time being.
 July 17 Six Catholic ministers withdraw from the cabinet to protest the Premier’s stance on royal question. The Chamber of Deputies passes a bill barring King Leopold’s return to the throne without the consent of Parliament. The Regency is extended for an indefinite period by a vote of 98 to 6 with 32 abstentions.  
July 18 The Senate ratifies extention of the Regency by a vote of 77 to 58.
 July 20 Premier van Acker substantiates most of the charges against King Leopold. The Premier refuses to declare the King a traitor but declares it intolerable for him to resume the throne in view of his many past errors in judgment and impaired health.
 July 24 Foreign Minister Spaak presents parliament with a previously unpublished letter written by King Leopold on January 25, 1941 in which the sovereign severely criticized the ministers who continued the fight in exile. Spaak declares, “If Belgium survives today it is because we disobeyed the King at that time.”  
July 26 The Chamber of Deputies approves the Government’s refusal to allow the return of King Leopold by a vote of 96 to 68.  
July 29 Spanish authorities announce an unsuccessful attempt to kidnap Rexist leader Leon Degrelle from a military hospital in San Sebastian.
 August 18 The Catholic Party is reestablished on a nonsectarian basis as the Christian Socialist Party.
 September 29 Switzerland approves King Leopold’s application for residency.  
October 1 King Leopold begins his exile at a villa on Lake Geneva at Pregny. The King issues a royal proclamation declaring that since the surrender in 1940 he had, “done nothing other” than resist the Germans.  
October 5 Belgian detective novelist Georges Simenon begins a self imposed exile in America. French authorities had cleared the author of collaboration charges.
 November 2 The Government releases a detailed account of a November 1940 meeting between King Leopold and Hitler at Berchtesgaden. According notes taken by Hitler’s personal interpreter Leopold, “thanked the Fuehrer for all he had done up to present for Belgium.”  
November 9 Belgium takes over the Royal Navy Section Belge at the request of Great Britain. The RNSB is renamed the Section Navale and placed under joint control of the Transportation and Foreign Affairs ministries.
 November 12 The Government wins a vote of confidence in the Senate after Catholic Party leader Edmond Ronse charges it with conducting a scandalous political campaign against the King.
 November 25 An executive order creates advisory councils for the Belgian Congo and its provinces. The councils appointed by the Governor General are composed of missionaries, retired officials and a handful of natives.
 December 15 The Piron Brigade is released from occupation duty in Germany and disbands.
January 20 King Leopold tells New York Times reporter C.L. Sulzberger, “I am by right the King of the country and I shall abdicate only if I know that this is the wish of the majority...I hope the new Parliament that will be elected will accurately represent the people and that it will then pass a law permitting a national referendum on the question of my return.”  
February 17 Legislative election: Christian Socialists, the only party supporting the King’s return, win 92 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, Socialists 69, Communists 23 (a gain of 14) and Liberals 17 (a loss of 16).  
February 18 The van Acker cabinet resigns. The Regent calls on Christian Socialist leader August de Schryver to form a new government. De Schryver fails to find any partners for a coalition and the task of forming a new ministry falls to Socialist leader Paul-Henri Spaak.
  March 13 Paul Henri Spaak forms a minority government after Liberals refuse to join the Socialists in a coalition.
 March 20 The Spaak cabinet loses a vote of confidence in the Chamber of Deputies. The Regent again calls upon Christians Socialist to form a cabinet. Once again they fail.
 March 31 Socialist Achille van Acker forms a cabinet including 6 Socialists, 6 Liberals, 4 Communists and 3 independents.
 April 12 August Borms is hung at Etterbeek for collaboration with the Germans. The Flemish nationalist had escaped execution of a previous death sentence for collaboration in the First World War and was elected to Parliament from his jail cell in 1928.
  May 14 Marie Degrelle, wife of Rexist leader Leon Degrelle, is sentenced to 10 years in prison for collaboration in her own right by a Brussels court.
 July 8 Minister of Colonies Robert Godding calls for increased Belgian emigration to the Congo to establish the colony as a “national redoubt” in the event of another invasion. The Minister remarks on a drop in death rates for whites in the Congo from 22 to 7 per 1000 during the two decades preceding the war.  
July 9 The van Acker government loses a vote of confidence in the Senate after a Socialist senator accuses Liberal Justice Minister Adolphe van Glabbeke of illegal intervention in a pending treason case.
 August 6 Socialist leader Camille Huysmans forms a coalition cabinet with Liberal and Communist participation.
 September 26 The first issue of Tintin Magazine is published. Herge resumes work after a two year suspension from journalism for having published in the collaborationist Le Soir.
 October 17 Spain rejects Belgian demands for the extratidition of Rexist leader Leon Degrelle.
  December 11 Cyriel Verschaeve, president of the collaborationist Flemish Cultural Council, is sentenced in absentia to death by a military tribunal in Bruges. Verschaeve hides in Austria until his death from natural causes.
 December 13 Belgium’s League of Nations mandate over Ruanda-Urundi transformed into a United Nations Trusteeship.  
During the Year Georges Lemaitre publishes "Hypothesis of the primitive atom".
1947 February 26 National Federation of Former Prisoners of War organizes a “march on Brussels” to demand better pensions and priority in hiring for civil service jobs. Clashes with police injure 38. A second demonstration scheduled for March 2nd is banned.  
March 10 Small businesses stage a one day shutdown to protest rationing, price controls and high taxes.
March 11 Communists resign from the cabinet to protest an increase in the price of coal.
 March 12 The Huysman cabinet resigns. Christian Socialist leader Frans van Cauwelaert declines a call to form a ministry citing ill health.
 March 20 Socialist Paul Henri Spaak forms a coalition cabinet with Chrisitian Socialist participation. Both parties agree to shelve the royal question for the time being.
 May German prisoners of war are released from work in Belgian coal mines. Displaced persons recruited from camps in Germany to replace the POWs.
 June 4 SABENA begins transatlantic air service between Brussels and New York.
 January 1 The Benelux economic union between Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg comes into effect.
 February 6 Evidence presented in the trial of former German Under Secretary of State Otto Meissner reveals that King Leopold had disclosed the hiding place, near Bordeaux, France, of the Belgian State treasure and of sealed boxes containing Belgian state documents to his captors in June 1940 and that he had also taken the initiative in bringing about an interview with Hitler at Berchtesgaden in November 1944.
 March 17 A miltary and economic pact creating the Western European Union is signed in Brussels by France, Great Britain and the BeNeLux countries.
 April 16 The European Economic Cooperation Organization is established to coordinate activities among the countries accepting American aid under the Marshall Plan. Belgium joins as a founding member.
 October 28 Tintin reappears. Eight years after the forced halt to his adventures, his fans finally learn the outcome of Tintin in the Land of Black Gold.
 October Bread rationing ends. Sugar remains the sole rationed commodity.
 November 18 Christian Socialist Justice Minister Paul Struye is forced to resign after Socialists criticise of his decision to commute death sentences given to two collaborators.
1949 April 4 The North Atlantic Treaty signed in Washington. Belgium joins NATO.
 May 5 Belgium signs the Treaty of London establishing the Council of Europe.
 June 26 Women vote in a general election for the first time. The Communists lose 11 seats in the Chamber of Deputies. Christian Socialists gain an absolute majority in the Senate.
August 10 Liberals agree to enter a coalition cabinet under Christian Socialist Gaston Eyskens after the Premier agrees to postpone settlement of the royal question.
 August 16 Party chairman Max Buset tells the Chamber of Deputies that Socialists would, “oppose by force if need be any attempt to force the royal issue.”  August
The index of industrial production reaches 102% of 1937 base 100.
 October 19 The Government agrees to hold a referendum on the royal question. King Leopold agrees not to return without the approval of at least 55% of the voters.
1950 March 12 The return of King Leopold is approved by referendum. The measure is passed by a 57.68 to 41.3% margin. The King wins 72% of the Flemish vote but only 42% the Walloon vote. The provinces of Hainaut and Liege reject the measure.
 April The index of industrial production falls to 96% of 1937 base 100.
 June 4 Christian Socialists win slim majorities in both houses of Parliament (108 to 104 in the Chamber of Deputies and 54 to 52 in the Senate).
 July 20 Parliament passes a resolution stating that King Leopold’s inability to reign has ended. The measure passes by a vote of 198 to 0 after 189 opposition members walk out. The Regency of Count Charles ends.  
July 22 King Leopold returns to Belgium. Bloody riots erupt between partisans and opponents of the monarch.
 July 30 Three Socialists deputies are killed by Liege police while defying a decree banning demonstrations. Party chairman Buset, referring to the royal issue, declares, “Unless there is a settlement tonight, there will be civil war tommarrow.”  
August 11 King Léopold names his son Baudoin Prince Royal and Lieutenant General and transfers his sovereign powers to the Prince. Communist Party president Julien Lahaut cries, “Vive la République!” as Baudoin is sworn in.  
August 18 Belgian Communist Party president Julien Lahaut is assassinated.
1951 April 18 A treaty establishing the European Steel and Coal Community is signed in Paris by France, Italy, West Germany and the BeNeLux countries.
 July 16 King Léopold abdicates in favor of his son Baudoin.

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