"Army museum VI . Cyclists at war." Top 5 Page for this destination Royal Museum of the Armed Forces & Military History Tip by breughel
Royal Museum of the Armed Forces & Military History, Brussels: 30 reviews and 79 photos
The visitors of the military museums are generally enticed by the armour suits of the knights, the uniforms of the cavalry of Napoleon or the heavy tanks of the modern wars.
I discovered in this museum that a mean of transportation as peaceful as the bicycle knew its hour of glory in the Belgian army.
Actually the bicycle units appeared in the U.K. which in 1915 possessed a Cyclist Corps of a dozen battalions. During WW I the French, German and the Italian Bersaglieri had cyclist companies.
Bicycles presented advantages compared to horses: economic, no forage, silent. The units mounted on bicycles could move 50 miles a day with their package attached.
Among all these military cyclists the Belgian Carabiniers Cyclistes were the most efficient in the war. The Battalion of Carabiniers Cyclistes was a part of the Cavalry Division which protected the retreat of the Belgian army during the German offensive of August, 1914. At Halen, near Diest, this battalion resisted triumphantly to eight attacks of Uhlans, German cavalry. The battle of Halen made 1100 deaths on the Belgian side and 3000 on the German side.
As the Carabiniers Cyclistes wore a uniform of very dark green colour the Germans called them " schwarze Teufels " the " black Devils ". The name and the emblem of a black devil - diable noir stayed and became the official name of the Regiment.
In 1940 they still had bicycles but also machine guns and towed antitank guns. They resisted to the German blitzkrieg at the battle of Knesselaere.
After the war they were transformed into infantry armoured battalions within the armoured division together with the former cavalry converted to tanks.
The Carabiniers Cyclistes are the only Belgian infantry to wear the black beret of the tank crews.
The story of bicycles in the armies did not finish with the conversion to armoured infantry after WW II. In Zwitserland the world's last remaining cyclist regiment has been disbanded only in 2003 and after much protest.
Swiss army bikes are already a collector's item.
Address: Parc du Cinquantenaire
Directions: Metro station: schumann or merode
Phone: +32 2 737 78 11
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