Kingdom of Belgium (WW1)


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For a short period after the Napoleonic Wars, Belgium was united with the Netherlands. This lasted until the Belgian Revolt of 1830, through which Belgium became an independent country with a new king chosen to lead the bilingual country. After some years of struggle, the financial situation stabilized in the mid-1850s. In 1909, Belgium became a colonial power, as King Leopold II’s personal possessions in the African Congo were transferred to the state after his death.

Belgium also became the second country, after Britain, to develop a large metallurgic industry. This sprouted a high level of participation in the new automobile industry that emerged in the late 1890s. The Auto-Mixte factory even designed and built an armored car in 1911, which although never grabbed much attention, showed what the Belgian industry was capable of.

Since independence, Belgium maintained a position of strict neutrality in international affairs. This position was respected during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, but in August 1914, Belgium received a German ultimatum. After rejection, Germany attacked Belgium, and slowly but steadily, advanced into Belgium. By October 1914, the Belgian Army was driven back to the west bank of the River Yser. The small slice of Belgian territory that lies behind it was all that was left of a once neutral country. However, the Belgian Army managed to hold onto it until the end of the war.

In the first weeks of the war, the Belgians already began to field improvised armored vehicles, leading to the standardized Minerva design. Some armored trains were also used. During the war years, several armored cars were acquired from the Allies, and an armored car corps with French-built armored cars fought on the Russian side on the Eastern Front.

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