Art in Times of War

Art in Times of War
Art in Times of War

While art and war may seem mutually exclusive at first glance, the brutality and destruction of the First World War undeniably inspired many an artist. In the BIE-region, soldiers and civilians alike showed their creative side through works of art, often made from war objects.…

Aviation

Aviation
Aviation

Aviation played a decisive role in determining the course of World War I. This was a first in the history of European warfare, and marked an enormous evolution in aviation techniques. To this day, aerospace warfare remains a characteristic trade of World War I. Dominance in the air varied: in April of 1917, the Germans had the upper hand in the battle for air supremacy. Later referred to as “Bloody April”, the superior power of the German air forces caused the British side to suffer disastr…

Education in times of war

Education in times of war
Education in times of war

During World War I, education in the occupied areas was at a low ebb. A considerable number of teachers voluntarily enlisted in the military at the beginning of the war; others fled the area with their families, leaving many schools short-staffed. Replacement teachers and nuns stepped in to fill the positions left vacant in the local schools.…

Espionage and resistance

Espionage and resistance
Espionage and resistance

During the First World War, all belligerent countries developed extensive espionage networks. Intelligence services employed thousands of professional spies, men and women alike, but they were also largely dependent on the help of amateurs. Some 1500 Belgians were recruited to spy for the Belgian and French army, while approximately 5000 Belgian citizens had ties to British intelligence services. …

Forced Labour and Prisoners of War

Forced Labour and Prisoners of War
Forced Labour and Prisoners of War

During the First World War, a great number of prisoners of war were transferred to camps in the BIE-region. Most of them were llied soldiers who had been captured by the Germans and set to work behind or on the front line. But it wasn’t just enemy combatants who were forced into labour by the Germans; a large number of civilians from the BIE-region received the same treatment.…

German Infrastructure

German Infrastructure
German Infrastructure

Because of its strategic position behind the front line, the BIE-region formed an important junction in the supply chain of ammunition, provisions and soldiers to the war front. To this end, the Germans not only claimed a significant number of existing buildings in the area but also actively built their own infrastructure.…

Medical facilities

Medical facilities
Medical facilities

Because of its strategic position behind the front lines, the BIE-region played an important role in the medical accommodation and treatment of German soldiers. Municipalities located in a 15 kilometre radius around the front lines were frequently flooded with soldiers who were wounded in action in the combat zones around Ypres and the river Yser. Farther removed from the war front, in Lichtervelde, Roeselare and Izegem, the German military built various types of field hospitals to provide medi…

Reconstruction

Reconstruction
Reconstruction

The First World War left the BIE-region in ruins. Municipalities located close to the warfront, such as Westrozebeke, Oostnieuwkerke, Moorslede and Dadizele were completely demolished. Others, farther removed form the front line, suffered substantial material damage as a result of the numerous bombardments and intense battles of the Hundred Days Offensive.…

Refugees

Refugees
Refugees

In September 1914, about a month after the war had reached Belgium, the first wave of refugees arrived in the BIE-region. Because most of them had come from the area around Leuven, Brussels and Antwerp, and many from the city of Mechelen, they were nicknamed “De Mechelenaars” by the local population. During the first month of the war, refugees were housed in schools in Lichtervelde and Moorslede. They told the most gruesome stories of German massacres and atrocities. …

Rest and Recreation in Times of War

Rest and Recreation in Times of War
Rest and Recreation in Times of War

Located right behind the war front, the BIE-region functioned as an important area for the German soldiers' rest and recreation. Many soldiers were quartered in Ingelmunster, Izegem and Lichtervelde for the duration of a few weeks. During their stay, soldiers were expected to perform simple tasks: they had to attend to the maintenance of their clothes and weapons and were obliged to participate in military exercises. Apart from that, their time away from the front lines was spent on a wide rang…

Rules and Regulations

Rules and Regulations
Rules and Regulations

During the first months of the war, it quickly transpired that the Germans had prepared the occupation well. A military-led regime was installed in most occupied municipalities, and citizens were forced to abide by countless rules and regulations.…

Schuwe Maandag

Schuwe Maandag
Schuwe Maandag

Schuwe Maandag marked a key event in the development of the First World War in the BIE-region. On 19 and 20 October, 1914, most of the towns and villages in the area were violently captured by the Germans. At the time, active German troops in the BIE-region consisted mostly of young volunteers, often students, who tended to view the war as a great adventure. For their fearlessness, they had but a short 8-week training period to fall back on and were far less experienced than the Allied soldiers…

The Cuisine of War

The Cuisine of War
The Cuisine of War

On the brink of the First World War, Belgium was largely dependent on import for its natural resources and produce. When the international economy plummeted because of the war, food supply became a problem for the Belgians. The German occupation reduced the country’s farmland to 125.000 acres, of which another 86.000 were flooded to stop German soldiers from advancing. 95% of all arable land in Belgium remained in German hands until the end of the war.…

The First Signs of War in The BIE-Region

The First Signs of War in The BIE-Region
The First Signs of War in The BIE-Region

The violence of the war reached the BIE-region on Monday October 19th, 1914, a day that would go down in local history as Schuwe Maandag. However, the war’s implications had begun to influence the daily lives of the region’s inhabitants long before this date.…