( Editor’s note: Welcome to a brand new series that will debut every several months as Battlefield V’s live service continues to push out content and will depend on how well the Live Service does. If the Live Service fails, this series will be canceled since the expansions for Battlefield V will also be canceled. DICE intends to release the expansions in chronological order and attempt to follow World War II in order. This series will delve into every aspect of the Second World War that EA DICE chooses to highlight in their expansions. I hope you enjoy this little mini-series and stay tuned for my BFV: Overture First Impressions tomorrow.)
When the Great War came to Belgium in 1914, the Germans invaded Belgium as part of the Schlieffen Plan, in an attempt to capture Paris quickly without alerting the French. It was this action that brought Belgium into the war with German troops invading the country, crossing the Belgian frontier at dawn and so began a 4-year long conflict that would lose a generation of men on the frontlines of Belgium.
During the 1930s, Belgium was still recovering from the destruction that the Great War caused. Economically, Belgium was one of the countries that were hit the hardest during the Great Depression with high unemployment until this changed in 1937.
As the Great Depression began to wind down and countries began to rise up from the ashes, Belgium would remain neutral if another World War would arise in Europe and so Belgium began to withdraw itself from the Allies: leaving the Locarno Treaty, backing away from the French-Belgian defense pact that was signed in 1920, and receiving a guarantee of neutrality from Nazi Germany in 1937.
During this period of time, the Belgian government began to reorganize the Belgian Army and began construction of a fortification line around the country, particularly around the city of Liège since it was the first battle to occur on Belgian soil in 1914 and so the Belgian Army reorganized into a defensive force.
In 1939, World War II broke out with the invasion of Poland and Belgium launched a rearmament campaign and began general mobilization and six months later, the Belgian Army was 600,000 strong which made it larger than the BEF and the Dutch Army then all of Western Europe awaited its fate.
By 1940, things were looking bleak as Norway and Denmark surrendered to Nazi Germany and the Germans were slowly advancing westward to conquer all of Europe.
On May 10th, 1940, the Germans invaded the West under the codename of “Fall Gelb.” and broke out of the Ardennes Forest. As France and the Netherlands fell, the fortifications along the Albert Canal which were some of the most modern defensives for the era was broken through and at Eben-Emael, the fort fell once the Germans deployed Fallschirmjäger units against those that were defending the fort which opened the Belgian countryside for Blitzkrieg-style warfare.
The military held out for 18 full days until the Belgians surrendered which allowed the British and the French to retreat back towards the port city of Dunkirk and be evacuated from continental Europe. Belgium much like the rest of Western Europe was now under German occupation and hoped for liberation.
As people in Belgium hoped for liberation, the Belgian government and soldiers escaped to Britain and formed the Belgian forces in exile and began to fight back against the German occupation with conducting secret raids against Nazi Germany on the continent and their involvement in the North African theatre and in the Italian campaign.
Four years later, Belgium was finally liberated in late 1944 by Allied forces operating along the Ghent Canal and attempting to defend the city of Bastogne in the Ardennes Forest in December. Six months after the liberation of Belgium, prosecutions against those that collaborated with the Germans during the occupation began and 56,000 Belgian citizens were found guilty and 250 were executed.
In the decades following the war, monuments were erected across the country in memory of Belgian soldiers, Allied politicians like Monty and Roosevelt. Belgium abandoned its neutral stance in international politics and joined NATO in 1949.
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( This concludes the first issue of “History Behind BFV.” , come back in March for the second issue of “History Behind BFV.” which chronicles the history of Greece in the Second World War.)