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Tombeur studied at the Royal Military Academy, Brussels. In 1902 he attained the rank of Captain-Commandant in the Congo Free State. He remained there until 1908, when the Congo Free State was dissolved and the territory annexed as the Belgian Congo. After a stint in Belgium, He returned to the Congo as the administrator of Katanga Province from 1912 to 1914. In 1916 he was made Military Governor of the Belgian Occupied East African Territories.