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Belgian Navy 1939/1940

April 23 2007 at 9:48 PM

Does anyone have any information or photographs of the ships comissioned by Belgium at the start of World War 2?

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Susan Cross

Re: Belgian Navy

April 24 2007, 1:32 AM 

Here is the material I have:

The coast defense of Belgiam was conducted by the Base Maritime/Zeebasis (Maj. Gen Glorie); apparently five infantry battalions were detailed for coast security, these may have been some of the forty-seven guard and nine territorial battalions deployed in May 1940. the army artillery regiment I/5 RAA was in charge of coast artillery. There was a Groep Kust with one battery of 4 x 170mm at Knokke, one battery of 4 x 170mm at Oostende-Bredene, and one battery of 4 x 120mm De Bange at Zeebrugge, all in ex-German casements. Thirteen 47mm in tank turrets intended for undelivered AMC-35 tanks were distributed along 67 km of coast.

The navy itself (Corps de Marine/ Het Marinekorps) was established on September 15, 1939 and a strength of 30 officers, 96 petty officers and 514 men was authorized. The actual strength was 122 in September, 185 in Febraury, 232 in March, 233 in April.

A Compagnie de Formation was first set up but in May 1940 the organization was

Headquarters (Oostende) (Major Henri Decarpentrie)

1er Escadrille (Oostende) (Kaptein-commandant van Strijdonck)

2e Escadrille (Zeebrugge) (Lieutenant Raoul Duchene)

3e Escadrille (Antwerpen) (Commandant Jacques Delstanche)

also an Escadrille de Renfort et d'Instruction (Lieutenant Albert Massart) (location not given, presumably Oostende)

The vessels were assigned as follows:

1er Escadrille

pilot vessels A4, A5, A6 each 1 x 47mm, 2 MG, taken over Oct 39, Feb 40, Oct 39
yacht Aloha, from 16 May
fishing vessels Georges Edouard, John, Jaqueline, Jeannie-Georgette, Maurice-Roger, Van Maerlent, in service May 1940
yacht Prince Charles (from at least Dec 39)
launches C4, R1, R2 (last two only from 22 May)

pilot boats MLB (or P) 13, 14, 15, 16 available but one report says only 13 and 16 were taken into service

3 x 47mm, 8 Maxim mg, 50 rifles, 30 revolvers were available for the escadrille afloat and ashore

2e Escadrille

tugboat Graaf Visart, in May
river tugboat Baron de Maere, in May
fishing vessels Theo-Natalie, De Ruyter, Gods Genade (or Ops Gods Genade) all in May

3e Escadrille (5 officers, 17 petty officers, 73 men on May 10)

police boat Police de la Rade III, Oct 39
yacht Restless, in May
customs launch Tolwacht I, 14 May
launches Brabo, Brabo II, Brabo III, La Prairie, all in May

1 x 47mm, 4 Maxim mg, 25 rifles, 20 revolvers were available


the vessels Pres. John D. Best (21 May), P. Valentin Letzer (May) and fishing vessel Graaf van Vlaanderen (May), escadrille unknown


Van Raemdonck , Jasper "Het Belgisch Marinekorps 1939-1940"

letter Paul H. Silverstone, Warship International No. 2, 1992

Mollow, Andrew "Armed Forces of the World"

also gleanings here and there from the internet on the Marinebasis

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David Reasoner

Former Belgian Warships

April 24 2007, 5:21 PM 

What was the status in 1939/40 of the old ex-British sloop Zinnia, and the ex-German torpedo boats West Diep and Wielingen?


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Susan Cross

Re: former Belgian warships

April 25 2007, 2:47 AM 

Zinnia was civilian-manned for fishery protection, to be replaced by Artevelde, and the two ex-torpedo boats were at the nautical schools they were named after.

The Belgian Corps du Marine/Het Marinekorps was only authorized on an emergency basis to be formed on September 15, to fulfill Belgium's responsibility to defend her neutrality by naval means, under international law (Ireland did the same thing with her Marine Service).

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David Reasoner

Re: former Belgian warships

April 25 2007, 4:14 PM 



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Susan Cross

Re: Belgian Navy 1939

April 26 2007, 5:26 AM 

I might add that the Belgians had abolished their "real" navy c. 1932 as an economy measure, but that there were moves during the Thirties to bring it back.

I used to go through the back issues of US Naval Institute "Proceedings" at my university library, and I remember a proposal in 1939 to build or buy new ships for a resurrected Belgian Navy: 1 fast patrol vessel (presumably Artevelde, already on order), 1 "naval cutter", 3 minesweepers, 4 patrol boats, 1 transport (trips to the Congo?), 1 training ship, 1 survey ship.

The merchant/fishery shipbuilding industry in Belgium would have been quite capable of building these, contrariwise, some existing vessels could have been taken over.

This message has been edited by soucee on Apr 26, 2007 7:01 AM

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April 30 2007, 6:46 PM 

Tks Susan for your extensive replies and efforts. Let's hope Barrie will read it!

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