king albert avenue

King of Belgium during World War 1

Portrait of Albert I of Belgium. By Richard N Speaight (1875–1938). Source: Wikimedia Commons

King Albert Avenue is named in honour of King Albert I of Belgium, who reigned from 1909 until his death in 1934. During World War I, King Albert played a pivotal role in leading Belgium’s defence against the German invasion. Despite facing overwhelming odds, he exhibited courage and resilience, inspiring his people to resist the occupation.

King Albert’s steadfast leadership and commitment to his country’s sovereignty earned him admiration both at home and abroad. The naming of King Albert Avenue commemorates his legacy as a patriotic monarch and symbolises Belgium’s enduring gratitude for his role in defending the nation during a time of crisis.

King Albert I of Belgium on battlefield. Albert wearing the uniform of a British infantry officer inspecting the front line with British and Belgian officers. Bain News Service, publisher. Source: Wikimedia Commons

German Invasion of Belgium (1914)

 When Germany invaded Belgium in August 1914 as part of its broader strategy to attack France, King Albert I resisted the German forces. Despite being outnumbered and outgunned, the Belgian army, under King Albert’s leadership, put up a determined defence. The resistance slowed down the German advance and gained international admiration.

The battle of Flanders. Bridging the Yser, north of Ypres. Dutch National Archives. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Battle of the Yser (1914)

As part of the larger defence of Belgium, the Battle of the Yser in October 1914 was a crucial engagement. King Albert’s forces, with the assistance of French and British troops, managed to hold a defensive line along the Yser River, preventing the Germans from capturing the entire Belgian territory. The flooding of the low-lying land played a significant role in stalling the German advance.

The Belgian Army on the Western Front, 1914-1918 Belgian troops marching past King Albert I of the Belgians at Houthem, 2 July 1918. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Exile and Continued Resistance

As the war progressed, much of Belgium came under German occupation, and King Albert and his government operated in exile in Le Havre, France. Despite being in exile, King Albert continued to play a symbolic and diplomatic role, rallying international support for Belgium and maintaining the morale of the Belgian people.

The King of Belgium, Albert I (1875-1934), waves goodbye to a group of soldiers. He is standing next to a motorcar. The soldiers, in return, are waving and saluting the king. The ground is churned up and extremely muddy, with a ditch separating the two parties. During the war, Royal visits were seen as an important way of keeping up morale.

Scenes such as this were commonly used as propaganda, intended to boost morale amongst the troops and provide reassurance to those at home. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Return to Belgium

King Albert returned to Belgium in November 1918, following the end of World War I. His return symbolised the restoration of Belgian sovereignty and the end of the German occupation. The people of Belgium welcomed him as a national hero.

His leadership and dedication to defending Belgium during the early stages of World War I earned him respect both at home and abroad. Following the war, King Albert played a pivotal role in the reconstruction and recovery of Belgium. His reign, which continued until his passing in 1934, is remembered for his steadfastness and patriotism, exemplified by his resolute stance against the German invasion during a crucial period in Belgian history.

The First Soldier of Belgium – King Albert 1 I WHO DID WHAT IN WW1? The Great War. (Duration 5 mins 43 secs) Source: YouTube

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