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Piron Brigade

Campaigns

Campaign of Normandy Return in Belgium Campaign of Holland 1944 Campaign of Holland 1945 Occupation in Germany 1945

Return in Belgium and

the Campaign of Limburg , September,3-22,1944

On September 2, 1944 at 08 p.m., the colonel Piron is received with the bosses of the greats units in Beaumetz by the general HORROCKS, commander of the XXXth British Corps. The Armoured Division of Guards commanded by the general ADAIR, of whom is a part at the moment the Belgian Group, receives the order to go to the axis Arras, Douai, Tournai, Hal and … Brussels. The Group collects in Arras's citadel and spends there the night.

On September 3 at 08.30 a.m., the squadron leaves Arras for Tournai. It opens the walking to the column of ghosts which go into their country after four years of exile. In the row of vehicles, are people for whom one did not wait any more, whom the family considered dead for a long time.

The first vehicle crosses the Belgian border in Rongy at 04.36 p.m.. Where also waits the general Sir Alexander Stanier of the Armoured Division of Guards.
The frenzy of the freed Belgian populations welcome the Brigade to Antoing, Leuze and Ath, until Enghien where they should wait for the instructions of the general ADAIR. The Group spends there the night.
September 4, at 09.30 a.m., commander of the division sends his orders for the entrance to Brussels. Two thousands men of the brigade are closely shaved, and impatient persons .. The Division of Guards precedes the Belgian Group, so are indeed English who free Brussels. However, two small squad of the Belgian Group accompany the division of Guards. At 03.00 p.m., the head of column of the Belgian penetrates into the first suburbs of Brussels. A delirious crowd welcomes them. The excitement rises to reach its highlight "Porte de Namur". The population gradually seems to wake up from four years of torpor. By the place of Palaces, the column gets back to the Royal street where the colonel Piron decorates with flowers the grave of the Unknown Soldier. Schaerbeek's door, the column falls to pieces and the units of the Group take their districts: the 1st Unit in the barracks of the " Small Castle ", the 2nd Place Dailly, the 3rd Melsbroeck's airfield, squadron in Etterbeek's barracks.

The Staff in the barracks of Grenadiers, but this one is invaded by a crowd of Resistance fighters and German prisoners. The next day, the Staff settles down in a building of the university. The battery of artillery occupies the barracks of the 6th of Artillery.
If Brussels was freed, German still occupied some cities. On September 8, Troop of the squadron participates in the liberation of Liège. Teams of Reconnaissance leave for Tirlemont, Roosbeek and Saint-Trond. The Belgian column goes back up the American front guard and reaches Ans. The local population takes them for French Canadians: how much little of Belgian suspected that they were going to be freed by Belgians! By the right bank of the Meuse, Reconnaissance leave for Fléron and Visé.
During this time, in Brussels, missions are confided to the various units of the brigade. The 1st Unit is to keep bridges on the canal and the rest of the brigade to defend the North of Brussels.

On September 8, The colonel PIRON is summoned to the City hall of Brussels: the Marshal MONTGOMERY is on official visit. The officers of the Belgian Group are presented to him. The Marshal congratulates the troops of the Group on the exploits that they showed during the campaign of Normandy.

After 6 days of reunion and holiday, the colonel Piron sought British authorities, the license to continue under their command and to go to fight in Limbourg. This deserving decision reflected the spirit of all the members of the Group.

On September 10 in the night, the column re-forms in the various districts of Brussels.

On September 11 in the day rise, the Piron's Brigade leaves the capital to pass under the orders of the 8th British Armoured Brigade within the XXXth Corps (General HORROCKS). It has mission to take the city of Bourg-Léopold.
The Armoured Squadron in head, followed by the 1st Motorized Unit bores towards Louvain, Diest and crosses the canal Albert to Beringen at about 01.30 p.m..
From 02.50 p.m., Troops of the squadron is in place in front of Bourg- Léopold: Lt SAUVAGE's Troop is to the right in the north border. DEWANDRE's Troop is in the center of the device whereas VERHAEGEN's Troop is to the left, in the crossroads of Baelen's road. At the time of moving to take the city, the German defences riposte. Daimler of the leader BIHAY is reached by two direct knocks. BENOOT and SIMOENS are killed, BIHAY is seriously wounded.

On September, 12, Pvt Carlos MARTIN is killed at the Leopoldsburg station (testimony)

The squadron groups together in the entrance of Bourg-Léopold. The men of the 1st Unit joined them and open the doors of the prison camp and free so has more than 900 prisoners and arrest SS which kept them. The 3rd Company leaves Beverloo and enters Heppen where they meet strong German positions. Leo VAN CAUWELAERT is wounded. During this time, English and German kill each other to Hechtel where SS retake the village twice.

September 13, Germans Artillery rearguard are always firm. The 3rd Squadron sends a patrol of fight towards Oostham's wood, but their leader, the younger Louis GOETS is a victim of a sniper. The next day, the strong position is taken and German are arrested, but after they massacred about twenty civilians, absolutely innocent.

On September 16, the Group receives for mission to clean the ground up to the canal of crossing. Armoured cars seize Baelen and  Maat. The Germans show themselves still very active and counter-attack in front of this last village. Passing during some days under the command of the famous 50th Scottish Division, the Group seizes, alternately , Himmer and Oostham and throws back German to the North of the canal of crossing.

On September 17, the Belgian Group passes under the orders of the VIIIth Corps ( general O' CONNO), while the battery of artillery remains attached to the XXXth Corps, it takes position to Neerpelt and participle in the preparation and in support of the attack executed by the Guards Armoured Division.

Begin then the tremendous push in Holland. The British Armoured Ddivisions rush the length the axis Hechtel-Nimègue to operate their connection with the airborne troops. The Group, in direct support of the VIIIth Corps has mission to assure the right side of the starting point.

On September 19, the Armoured Squadron leaves Hechtel in scout in the direction of the canal the Meuse - Escaut. German withdrew behind this line of water. The colonel PIRON settles his PC to MEEUWE.

On September 20, the 2nd Unit rushes towards Brée, the 1st towards Bocholt and the 3rd towards Caulille. All these municipalities are freed. The squadron reassembles to Ellikom.
German remain active. The 3rd Unit arrests some parachutists.
The Group holds a 15 kilometre front. It is opposite to parachutists' regiment " Grasmehl " and " Hardegg ". They are very aggressive and push patrols inside the Belgian lines.

September 22 at 11.57 a.m., first elements of the Group cross the Dutch border. The Belgian Group receives the license to cross the canal and to grow towards Wessem and towards Maaseyk. Once again, the Belgian Group filled well its mission. The colonel PIRON receives from the general commander the VIIIth Corps, a message of congratulations.