Belgium 1940

The Battle of Belgium or Belgian Campaign formed part of the greater Battle of France, an offensive campaign by Germany during the Second World War. It took place over 18 days in May 1940 and ended with the German occupation of Belgium following the surrender of the Belgian Army.

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Mechelen Incident

The Mechelen Incident of 10 January 1940, also known as the Mechelen Affair, was an event which occurred in Belgium during the Phoney War in the first stages of World War II. A German aircraft with an officer on-board carrying the plans for Fall Gelb (Case Yellow), the German attack on the Low Countries, crash-landed in neutral Belgium near Vucht in the modern-day municipality of Maasmechelen within the Province of Limburg. This prompted an immediate crisis in the Low Countries and amidst the French and British authorities, whom the Belgians notified of their discovery; however the crisis abated relatively quickly once the dates mentioned in the plans passed without incident. It has been argued that the incident led to a major change in the German attack plan, but this hypothesis has also been disputed.

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Coup From the Air: The Capture of Fort Eben-Emael

In the early morning of May 10, 1940, Germany invaded the Low Countries. One of the Wehrmacht’s first and most decisive blows was the capture of Fort Eben-Emael, reputed to be the strongest fort in the world. No one had even suspected that gliders would be used to take the fort, but on the other hand the potential of glider troops and paratroops was well known. It would have been wise – and indeed simple – to place obstacles atop the fort to impede or prevent this type of landing. And although orders had in fact been issued to this end, they were still awaiting execution when the enemy struck. The story of this brilliant German success is told by the man who commanded the glider-borne contingent that achieved it.


Oberst Rudolf Witzig
taken from History of the Second World War
[Phoebus Publishing Ltd in collaboration with the Imperial War Museum]