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Auguste Gilliaert (7 March 1894 - 10 May 1973) was an officer of the Belgian Army in both World Wars and later commander of the Force Publique in the Belgian Congo.

Commissioned in the Belgian Army in July 1914, Gilliaert fought in battles along the Yser River near Ostende, during World War I. In 1916, he volunteered for service in Africa and took part as a captain in the East Africa Campaign of World War I. Gilliaert returned to Belgium in 1919, commanding units at home and in occupied Germany.

By World War II, Major-General Gilliaert was the commander of the "Belgian Expeditionary Forces" in East Africa during the East African Campaign of World War II. The "Belgian Expeditionary Forces" was a Free Belgian colonial unit composed of troops from Belgium and the Belgian Congo.

In July 1941, Gilliaert cut off the retreat of Italian General Pietro Gazzera in Ethiopia and accepted the surrender of Gazzera's 7,000 troops.[1]

After the successful conclusion of the campaign in East Africa, the 1st Belgian Colonial Brigade was re-designated the Belgian Colonial Motor Brigade Group and served in a garrison and rear-area security role in Cairo, Egypt and in British Palestine from 1943 to 1944.[2] Gilliaert commanded the road march of the 2,000 man brigade on a journey of some 7,000 kilometers from Lagos to Cairo without losing a single man.[3] Gilliaert was made commander of the Force Publique in July 1944 and promoted to Lieutenant-General in October 1951.

General Gilliaert returned to Belgium in March 1954 and retired on 1 April 1955.

Command historyEdit

  • General Officer Commanding, Belgian Expeditionary Forces East Africa - 1941
  • Commander of the Force Publique - 1944


  • Commander of the Order of the African Star with Palm
  • Honorary Commander of the British Empire


  1. Forgotten Allies, Vol. 1, p. 44.
  2. Foreign Volunteers of the Allied Forces, 1939-45, p. 17

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