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The Belgian Army in World War I (Men-at-arms) [Paperback]

Ronald Pawly , Patrice Courcelle
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
Price: £9.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

10 Jun 2009 Men-at-Arms (Book 452)
While small in numbers, the Belgian Army played a vital role in World War 2 that is often overlooked. Germany's invasion of neutral Belgium, which led Britain to declare war in August 1914, should have been swift and fierce yet the unexpected heroic defence, against great odds, of Belgian fortresses, frustrated the German Schlieffen Plan for a thrust to Paris and a lightning victory. The plucky Belgian resistance proved successful in buying time for French and British troops to mobilize and report to the front, where the Belgians would then go on to fight, stubbornly defending the northern end of the Allied trench line for the rest of the war. In this work, discover the story of this determined Army, from their organization and commanders, to their uniforms and equipment. The only main combatant army of World War I not previously covered by Osprey, this volume will be an important addition to any enthusiast's collection, accompanied by detailed artwork and archive photographs.

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The Belgian Army in World War I (Men-at-arms) + The French Army, 1914-18 (Men-at-Arms) + The Austro-Hungarian Forces 1914-18: 1914-16 Bk. 1 (Men-at-Arms)
Price For All Three: £26.69

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Product details

  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (10 Jun 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846034485
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846034480
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 14 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 138,530 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"This book fully covers the build up of the army, those heroic days and weeks in 1914 when the Belgians held back the German offense and their continuing defense of the northern part of the front until the end of the war. As with all Osprey Men-at-Arms books, it takes a look at the uniforms and equipment that were used by these men during the war. Assisted by a good choice of period photographs and the superb illustrations of Patrice Courcelle, you get a look at how these men lived and fought, defending what was, during most of the war, basically a swamp land dotted with small defensible islands... This all makes yet another great addition to the superb library of Osprey titles and one you can purchase with confidence." -Scott Van Aken, "Modeling Madness - "(July 2009)"The first half of the book is a well-constructed concise overview of the Belgian Army's part in the campaigns of the western front. It covers their courageous fight against the German invasion and how this brought time for British and French forces to arrive in the region. It then goes onto their part in holding the line from 1915 to 1917 until the final grand offensives in 1918...Overall this a great introduction to the Belgian Army of World War One and it will prove a handy resource to Wargamers and Modellers alike." - "Flames of War" (December 2009)

About the Author

Ronald Pawly was born in Belgium in 1956 and still lives and works there. He is a respected member of several societies for Napoleonic studies and an expert on 19th century military portraiture. He has previously written for Osprey Men-at-Arms 355, "Wellington's Belgian Allies 1815"; MAA 371, "Wellington's Dutch Allies 1815"; MAA 371, "Napoleon's Red Lancers"; MAA 378, "Napoleon's Guards of Honour"; and Elite 115, "Napoleon's Imperial Headquarters (1)." Although, a leading Napoleonic historian, Ronald Pawly has also always been fascinated by the First World War and has heavily researched the Belgian involvement in such a conflict.

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Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Old uniforms - brave men. 2 Sep 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A fascinating insight into a brief campaign which bought France a vital few days at the beginning of WW1. Not much on this topic in English and therefore a worthy record. Recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Overview 6 Aug 2009
Good overview of a subject not normally covered in popular print. Typical Osprey with all the basic facts you could want
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Maciej TOP 500 REVIEWER
This is not a very good Osprey book - it is readable, but nothing more. The valiant fight of Belgian Army between 1914 and 1918 deserves to be more known than it is and I was very happy that Osprey made a book on this topic - but it was poorly done.

This is a great pity that this book was so poorly done, because the courageous fight of "plucky little Belgium" in WWI deserved better! Of all beligerant countries in World War I Belgium was the ONLY ONE to be a VICTIM, without any responsibility in the starting of this conflict and without having declared a war to anybody by its own decision - to the contrary, although having respected its obligation of neutrality, it was brutally INVADED by Germany. The Kaiser and his generals expected Belgians to surrender without resistance - but boy, were they wrong! In the 1914 defensive campaign Belgians fought with skill and heroism, hurting cruelly the great strategic plan of German leaders. Infuriated by this unexpected resistance, Kaiser and his generals unleashed an orgy of reprisals again Belgian civilians. Those crimes, which made thousands of dead, became quickly known around the world as the "Rape of Belgium" and when reading the details, it becomes clearly obvious that this name is NOT an exaggeration.

Belgian army avoided destruction during the campaign of 1914 and took position on the front of Yser, defending the last small parcel of national territory remaining free of German occupation. It suffered greatly in the great battle of Yser in the end of 1914 - but held its positions. After that however it had to be rebuilt - but luckily for the Belgians, from 1915 to the end of 1917 Germans didn't try anything too fancy on this sector of the front (even if raiding, skirmishing, shelling and sniping went on almost daily).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A small almost forgotten army. 5 Jan 2010
Very usefull information about a small army that held the northen end of the western front. Too much about uniforms and not enough about the weaponry. I could not find any reference to the Belgian designed Lewis gun! The germans called it the 'belgian rattlesnake'. All things considered a good starting point for anyone looking for information on Belgiums part in WW1.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Competent Summary 29 Mar 2014
Like all large conflicts the First World War is full of hidden corners that have received little attention. The invasion of Belgium propelled Britain into the war and the early German atrocities there stoked indignation in the UK. Belgium's resistance provoked much admiration and it was to be the scene of bitter fighting for the British and German armies over the next four years. The actual fate of the Belgian Army pretty much dropped from sight after 1914 so this book shines a welcome light on what actually happened. I found it a very clear read and a good summary of its subject by people who clearly know what they are talking about.
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