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Short Story of the 4th Belgian Battalion

 

Short Story of the 4th Belgian Battalion of Fusiliers with the 9th U.S. Army during World War II.

 
Belgium is a small country in Europe bordered on one side by France and one other side by Germany.  This is probably why we were invaded not only during the First World War but also during World War II.  Invade is one thing, being occupied by the enemy twice for a period of four years each time, not speaking of the plundering, the lack of liberty plus everything you can think of, is more than just discouraging.
 
When our country was liberated by the Allied troops in September 1944 our Government, having returned from England, wanted to set up the beginning of a new Belgian Army in order to help the Allies to conquer Germany.  A call was made for war volunteers which met with success since more than 53.000 men signed an engagement for the duration of the war.  Many of them belonged to what we called the “Resistance” during the occupation.
 
At first, 6 battalions of Fusiliers were created among which the 4th Battalion which occupied barracks in Tervuren close to Brussels because most of the men lived in the neighborhood.  That happened on October 10th, 1944 and our training was planned for about two months.  Our commanding officer was Major M. de Posch who, as junior officer, fought the same enemy during World War I.
 
In November, after a meeting between Major de Posch and Lieutenant Colonel Andrews, Provost Marshall of the 9th U.S. Army an agreement was reached to the effect that the 4th Battalion would be attached to the 9th U.S. Army.  This became officially effective on December 8th.  The commander of the 9th U.S. Army was Lieutenant General William Hood Simpson who remained its chief until the end of the war.  He also was on active duty during World War I.
 
On December 12th our Battalion leaves Tervuren and is being deployed along a line closer to the German border and our various Companies are operating in contact with American units behind the combat lines.  Our missions are among others: guarding bridges and railroad lines, canals, strategic objects etc...  Colonel Andrews considers our Battalion as the sole “Fighting Reserve” under his orders.
 
All the missions are being performed to most satisfaction, day after day and night after night during a deadly cold winter.  Several men are being sent to clearing stations with frozen toes and feet.
 
On January 2nd, 1945 Provost Marshal Andrews sends a letter to the commander of the 4th Battalion congratulating him for the most honorable behavior of all officers, warrant officers and men in accomplishing their missions whatever the circumstances may be.
 
Still based on this side of the border, several Companies are being sent to Germany on other missions of police, the guarding of a position under enemy fire, searching houses for identification of inhabitants, confiscating arms.  Guarding and controlling border posts and guarding prisoners of war.
 
In February our men, who knew that the battle for crossing the River Ruhr was going to begin, were eager to go along after the first battle line, but to their disappointment they were given the same sort of missions, even if some were more dangerous, as protection of pipe-lines, arresting German spies, protecting ammunition and fuel depots from sabotage.
 
In the beginning of March 1945, the 4th Battalion is based entirely in Germany forming a line of more than 50 miles from Wegberg to Beggendorf and Basweiler.  The principal mission is to form a security screening and filtering line at the rear of the Ninth Army.  Needless to say that this line never stays put depending upon the advances of the 9th Army and other missions are added such as moving P.W.’s and D.P’s.  Some of these displaced persons must be taken care of for lodging and food and other commodities.
 
On March 25th, the 3rd Company is being chosen to cross the river Rhine, close to Driessen, following the first combat echelon of the XVI Corps, the 30th and 79th U.S. Infantry Divisions.  Since the bridge had been blown up, the crossing was done with barges under enemy fire.  The main mission was to help the U.S. Units to get rid of the German prisoners and bring them to the rear lines.  There we had our first casualty.  (Note of Webmaster: Alphonse Verlooy, KIA, March 16th, 1945)
 
During the rest of the month we moved forward into Germany following the advance of the combat troops.  At the end of March the mission of the third Company ended with more than 4.000 P.W.’s brought back from the battle grounds.
 
In April, another line is being held by the Battalion from Bielefeld to Gütersloh, Wiedenbrück and Lippstatd.  We took care of an area full of German soldiers in civilian clothes, nazies being helped by the local population, all this in cooperation with the C.I.C.  In addition to the normal missions, our unit contributed to the capture of 1.500 enemies of all nature including collaborationists.
 
On May 10th our front line was established on the River Weser from Minden to Höxter.  This is where we learned about the end of the War.
 
On June 1st, 1945, our mission with the 9th U.S. Army ended.
 
On June 18th, General Simpson, commander of the 9th U.S. Army presented the Bronze Star Medal to Colonel de Posch.
 
* * * * * * * * * * * *

Supreme Headquarters

Allied Expeditionary Force

Office of the Supreme Commander

13 July 1945
 
I desire to command the Fourth Belgian Fusiliers Battalion for meritorious performance of military duty while serving with the Ninth United States Army from 8 December 1944 to 1 June 1945.
This Battalion contributed materially to the successful operations of the Unit with which it served.  The High Esprit de Corps and great determination displayed by the officers and men of the Fourth Fusiliers Battalion enabled it to carry through to a successful conclusion each and every assigned mission, thereby contributing immeasurably to the glorious victory of the Allied Nations.  The outstanding achievements of this Battalion bring credit not only to itself but also to the Belgian Army.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Supreme Commander.
 
Source: Document received by letter from Joe Quade, 17th Airborne Division, and dated January 2, 2012

Author Unknown

4th Belgian Fusiliers

Battalion

9th U.S. Army

Campaigns

Belgium

and

Germany