Armée secrète (Belgium)

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Secret Army (AS)
Armée secrète
Geheim Leger
Participant in the Second World War
Armée secrète.jpg
Insignia of the Armée secrète
Active 1 June 1944[1] -September 1944
Area of
operations
Across Belgium
Strength 54,000 men
Originated as Army of Belgium and Légion Belge
Allies Belgium Belgian Government in Exile
Opponents Nazi Germany German Occupying Forces
Website {{URL|example.com|optional display text}}

The Secret Army or AS (French: Armée secrète, Dutch: Geheim Leger) was the largest organization in the Belgian Resistance during the Second World War. It was loyal to the Belgian Government in Exile.

Background[edit]

Following the defeat of Belgium in the 18 days' campaign of 1940, many former soldiers and officers from the army formed the Légion Belge in the spring of 1941.[2] The Légion was greatly weakened by political squabbles amongst its members and was reluctant to work with the government in exile.[2]

After the arrest of one of the leaders of the Légion, Charles Claser, the movement reformed with the name Armée de Belgique.[2] The Armée was hit by a wave of arrests in 1943 after it was infiltrated by undercover Abwehr agents.

From 1943, many former members of the Armée de Belgique and Légion Belge reformed into a new group, with the support of the government in exile called the Armée Secrète (AS).

History[edit]

As in it predecessors, many of the founders of the AS were former members of the Belgian Army and so the group followed a more traditional military structure than other resistance groups in the country.[3] Its objectives were not exclusively military; many of the founding members of the group predicted the need for a national force to police the country after liberation as well as providing an organization which the Government in Exile could negotiate with.[3]

The AS was by far the largest resistance group in Belgium, with between 45,000[4]-54,000[5] members at its height in 1944. However, only a minority of those (around 7,000) were armed and served in a military capacity.[4]

Around 4,000 members of the Armée secrète were killed in or before the liberation of Belgium in September 1944.[5]

Structure[edit]

Members of the Armée secrète with a Canadian soldier in Bruges, 1944

The structure of the AS was highly decentralized. Many of the regional cells of the organizations - which were organized as subsidiaries of the national organization - did not necessarily share the political aims and objectives of the national leadership.[3]

Different "zones" and "sectors" around the country were assigned to the groups which operated within them:

Zone Sector Group Locations Examples of actions
Zone I D 10 Hainaut - Saint Marcoult
Zone II Antwerp - Limbourg
Zone III East and West Flanders
Zone IV Brabant and the Province of Namur
Zone V Sector 5 Group A Condroz and the environs of Ciney Sabotage of the Yvoir-Spontin Tunnel (19 July 1944)
Combat at Jannée (27 August 1944)
Group B
Group C Ardennes
Group D Around Orchimont Sabotage of the L.T.12 between Alle and Sedan

Memorials[edit]

Since 1987, there is a national monument, known as "Enclos des 13 Colonels", commemorating the Armée Secrète. It is located in Square Frère Orban, Brussels. [6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ De Vidts, Kim. "Belgium: A small yet significant resistance force during World War II" (PDF). Doctoral Thesis. Hawaii. p. 87. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c M. Dumoulin, M. Wijngaert et al. (1995). Nouvelle Histoire de Belgique: 1905-1950. Ed. Complexe. p. 93. 
  3. ^ a b c Conway, Martin. The sorrows of Belgium : liberation and political reconstruction, 1944-1947. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 20. ISBN 9780199694341. 
  4. ^ a b Jurado, Carlos (1992). Resistance Warfare 1940-45. p. 16. 
  5. ^ a b "Site de la Fondation Armée Secrète". www.sgl-fas.be. 
  6. ^ "Monuments commémoritifs". 

External links[edit]