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Belgium, U.S. involvement in World War I 

By Stéphanie Borrell-Verdu, USAG Benelux Public Affairs
via the army.mil web site

CHIÈVRES, Belgium -- This year marks the centennial of the end of World War I. On this anniversary, it is important to understand the involvement of Belgium in the Great War as well as the consequences that the conflict had on its population.Battle of MonsIn an undated photo, a woman talks to Soldiers who were wounded in the Battle of Mons which took place on Aug. 23, 1914 in Belgium during World War I. (Photo Credit: U.S. Library of Congress)

German Occupation

Belgium had been a neutral country since the Treaty of London in 1839. So how did the country get involved in World War I? Well, the answer is simple: Germany's Schliefen Plan. Germany declared war on France. To avoid the French fortifications along the French-German border, the troops had to cross Belgium and attack the French Army by the north.

Of course, Belgians refused to let them through, so the Germans decided to enter by force and invaded Belgium on Aug. 4, 1914. By doing so, they violated the Treaty of London, which is why Great Britain, that was bound to guard the neutrality of Belgium, entered the war.

Belgium's small Army could not defeat the invaders, but they did manage to slow them down. Despite their resistance and the British Army's help, the German troops soon invaded the country, which remained in their hands for four years until the Armistice on Nov. 11, 1918.

The Battle of Mons

The fiercest battles took place in Flanders, but Wallonia also played a major role in the war and suffered tragic consequences. Mons, for example, was the scene of several major events during World War I. The Walloon city is often referred to as "The First and The Last," because the first and the last British Soldiers that died during the war were actually killed in Mons. It also staged both the first and the last Allied engagements of the war. Moreover, some of the most mysterious events of World War I happened during the Battle of Mons, such as the famous legend of "The Angels of Mons." On the night of Aug. 26, 1914, several British Soldiers claimed that angels carrying bows came down from the sky to help them at a crucial time and saved their lives. However, it seems that this was a fictional story by the Welsh writer Arthur Machen, who published it in the London newspaper Evening News.

Read the entire article on the army.mil web site.

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