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Secret Army (AS)
Armée secrète
Geheim Leger
Participant in the Second World War
Armée secrète.jpg
Insignia of the Armée secrète
Active 1 June 1944[1] -September 1944
Area of
Across Belgium
Strength 54,000 men
Originated as Army of Belgium and Légion Belge
Allies Belgium Belgian Government in Exile
Opponents Nazi Germany German Occupying Forces
Website {{URL|example.com|optional display text}}

The Secret Army or AS (French language: Armée secrète, Dutch language: Geheim Leger ) was the largest organization in the Belgian Resistance during the Second World War. It was loyal to the Belgian Government in Exile.

Background[edit | edit source]

Following the defeat of Belgium in the 18 days' campaign of 1940, many former soldiers and officers from the army formed the Légion Belge in the spring of 1941.[2] The Légion was greatly weakened by political squabbles amongst its members and was reluctant to work with the government in exile.[2]

After the arrest of one of the leaders of the Légion, Charles Claser, the movement reformed with the name Armée de Belgique.[2] The Armée was hit by a wave of arrests in 1943 after it was infiltrated by undercover Abwehr agents.

From 1943, many former members of the Armée de Belgique and Légion Belge reformed into a new group, with the support of the government in exile called the Armée Secrète (AS).

History[edit | edit source]

As in it predecessors, many of the founders of the AS were former members of the Belgian Army and so the group followed a more traditional military structure than other resistance groups in the country.[3] Its objectives were not exclusively military; many of the founding members of the group predicted the need for a national force to police the country after liberation as well as providing an organization which the Government in Exile could negotiate with.[3]

The AS was by far the largest resistance group in Belgium, with between 45,000[4]-54,000[5] members at its height in 1944. However, only a minority of those (around 7,000) were armed and served in a military capacity.[4]

Around 4,000 members of the Armée secrète were killed in or before the liberation of Belgium in September 1944.[5]

Structure[edit | edit source]

Members of the Armée secrète with a Canadian soldier in Bruges, 1944

The structure of the AS was highly decentralized. Many of the regional cells of the organizations - which were organized as subsidiaries of the national organization - did not necessarily share the political aims and objectives of the national leadership.[3]

Different "zones" and "sectors" around the country were assigned to the groups which operated within them:

Zone Sector Group Locations Examples of actions
Zone I D 10 Hainaut - Saint Marcoult
Zone II Antwerp - Limbourg
Zone III East and West Flanders
Zone IV Brabant and the Province of Namur
Zone V Sector 5 Group A Condroz and the environs of Ciney Sabotage of the Yvoir-Spontin Tunnel (19 July 1944)
Combat at Jannée (27 August 1944)
Group B
Group C Ardennes
Group D Around Orchimont Sabotage of the L.T.12 between Alle and Sedan

References[edit | edit source]

  1. De Vidts, Kim. "Belgium: A small yet significant resistance force during World War II" (PDF). Doctoral Thesis. Hawaii. p. 87. http://www.hpu.edu/CHSS/History/GraduateDegree/MADMSTheses/files/2004KimdeVidts.pdf. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 M. Dumoulin, M. Wijngaert et al. (1995). Nouvelle Histoire de Belgique: 1905-1950. Ed. Complexe. pp. 93. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Conway, Martin. The sorrows of Belgium : liberation and political reconstruction, 1944-1947. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 20. ISBN 9780199694341. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Jurado, Carlos (1992). Resistance Warfare 1940-45. p. 16. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Site de la Fondation Armée Secrète". www.sgl-fas.be. http://www.sgl-fas.be/?lang=fr. 

External links[edit | edit source]

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