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Saturday, January 23rd 2016, 10:36am

Belgian News 1947

2 January
At Antwerp, six relatively new but aging ships of the MW-1 class sit peacefully at anchor. Aboard them are technicians and a few Bulgarian naval officers and men. These are the vanguard of the crews that will soon sail these ships to their new owners, the Bulgarian navy.

8 January
The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that several Aéronautique Militaire/ Militair Vliegwezen squadrons will be disbanded as the force restructures. Each Regiment will lose one Escadrille, so each will have five Escadrilles. Those units to be disbanded are; 6/1 Escadrille at Bierset Aerodrome, 6/2 Escadrille at Schaffen, 6/3 Escadrille at Kleine Brogel, and 6/4 Escadrille at Melsbroek. To counter this, the re-equipment of all bomber units with Avions-Fairey Fox II aircraft will be completed this year, and by December there will be two operational Escadrilles of licence-built Meteor jet fighters.


Friday, February 5th 2016, 5:32pm

17 January
The minesweepers MS-1 and MS-3 have been renamed TS-2 Dinant and TS-3 Vise respectively and transferred from the 2nd Mine Warfare Squadron to the Training Squadron at Antwerp. Both boats will be used for at sea training for enlisted men and midshipmen and will conduct specialist gunnery and minesweeping training duties as well.

25 January
The Royal Union of Belgian Radio Amateurs (UBA) (Koninklijke Unie van de Belgische Zendamateurs/ Union Royale Belge des Amateurs-Emetteurs) has been founded as a national non-profit organisation for amateur radio enthusiasts in Belgium. UBA is the national member society representing Belgium in the International Amateur Radio Union. The UBA is the creation of a merger of two older organisations based in Flanders and Wallonia.
The Réseau Belge (Belgian Network) was founded in September 1923 in Brussels and drew its membership primarily from the French-speaking radio amateurs in Brussels and Wallonia. In February 1926, the Réseau Belge began publishing a membership magazine called QSO. Flemish amateur radio operators were eager to see Dutch language articles in QSO, but were unable to persuade the editor of Réseau Belge to publish them. With the support of the publisher of a small Dutch language magazine called Radio, the Vlaamsche Radio Bond (Flemish Radio Association) was founded in Ghent on September 22 1929. The new organization established its own magazine called CQ VRB. Finally, both organisations have decided to unite to form a national body.


Friday, February 19th 2016, 8:50pm

12 February
The Finance Minister, Paul Guillaume van Zeeland, signed a trade deal with Pacifica today that sees a bilateral exchange of coal for local agricultural and fisheries produce from the island nations. The deal follows the acquisition of Pacifica of six patrol boats from the Navy.


Sunday, March 6th 2016, 10:47am

20 February
With the harsh winter weather across Northern Europe since December taking hold, the ferry service across the English Channel between Dover and Ostend has been suspended due to pack ice off the Belgian coast. Most schools are closed and efforts are underway to keep the main road and rail routes open. The Fishery Protection sloops Zinnia and Godetia have tried to find safe routes through the pack ice to escort any vessels in distress into harbour.


Saturday, March 19th 2016, 5:05pm

14 March
A small fleet of warships left Antwerp this morning to begin a goodwill tour of the Far East. The cruiser Wielingen was joined by the destroyer Van Haverbeke and the tender Zenobe Gramme. Amiral de flottille Jules A. G. Reynders has been appointed to command the flotilla.

19 March
Prime Minister Count Hubert Pierlot calls a General Election for the Chamber of Representatives and the Senate for 1 May.


Friday, March 25th 2016, 4:49pm

20 March
The political parties begin their election campaigns. The biggest issue is the Confederation and the economic plans with ever closer economic union. Beyond that social welfare plays a big role as does the Flemish issue.
The Belgian Labour Party (Belgische Werkliedenpartij/ Parti Ouvrier Belge) led by Max Buset is campaigning on social policy issues and a generally an anti-Dutch union position.
The Christian Social Party (Parti Social Chrétien-Christelijke Volkspartij) under the leadership of August de Schryver is currently the majority party and its manifesto treads a careful line to keep within its past record and traditionalist policy agenda.
The Flemish National Union (Vlaams Nationaal Verbond), led by Staf de Clercq is campaigning on its traditional nationalist Flemish policy and is strongly pro-Union.
The Christian Flemish People's Union (Christelijke Vlaamse Volksunie) is the main rival to the VNV and its policies are broadly similar.
The Liberal Party (Liberale Partij/ Parti libéral) led by Roger Motz favours the economic union but wants greater free-market policies and more liberal social policies and the creation of a similar Welfare System to that currently under consideration in Great Britain.
The Communist Party of Belgium (Kommunistische Partij van België/ Parti Communiste de Belgique PCB) led by Julien Lahaut will campaign on its usual agenda.

After an uneventful voyage through the English Channel and then south across the Bay of Biscay, the Wielingen, Van Haverbeke and the Zenobe Gramme arrived today in Cleito, the capital city of Atlantis. A party of economists and civil servants hosted an exhibition of Belgian industrial products aboard the Zenobe Gramme. A party of Atlantean naval officers toured the ship and her consort, the Wielingen.

24 March
The Frontist newspaper De Schelde controlled by the Flemish National Union has begun printing vigorous election articles.

26 March
After departing Cleito, the Belgian naval force headed east to Gibraltar and then headed towards the Suez Canal. On 24 March one of Van Haverbeke’s distillers broke down and the ships briefly put into Valetta for repairs. This did not delay the schedule much and the ships arrived off Port Said this afternoon, waiting for their turn to enter the Canal. They sailed through, just behind the British cruiser HMS Bellerophon.

28 March
The modernisation of the nation’s minesweeping fleet continues. The first of the Herstal class inshore sweepers, the MS-1 Herstal commissions with 2nd Mine Warfare Squadron at Ostend today. Another three sisterships will commission later this year. This follows the very recent commissioning of four new mine warfare ships of the MW class with the 1st Mine Warfare Squadron at Antwerp on 18 March.

29 March
Progress of the Wielingen, Van Haverbeke and the Zenobe Gramme to Yemen was slower than expected. It took time to get through the Suez Canal and as the ships began to head south it was clear the Belgian ships had not been designed with tropical heat in mind, even in this early season of the year. Wielingen lacked any air conditioning and conditions below decks were very warm. The crew of the destroyer Van Haverbeke suffered less from the heat, but the ship’s engine rooms got very hot and conditions for the engineering crew were quite serious with six cases of heat stroke. The Zenobe Gramme’s workshops also began to warm up and two sets of ventilation fans failed when the load shorted the electric supply. Once at Yemen the crews had some shore leave and the next day Wielingen and Van Haverbeke conducted some co-operational naval exercises with the Yemeni craft, which had not ventured far out of port for some time, and locally-based Dutch naval seaplanes. The Zenobe Gramme’s workshops were fully active repairing defects and making small spare parts for the Yemeni craft.


Sunday, April 3rd 2016, 11:34am

3 April
The Belgian naval force of the cruiser Wielingen, the destroyer Van Haverbeke and the depot ship Zenobe Gramme arrived in Trincomalee, India this evening on the next leg of its Far Eastern tour. This is the first Belgian naval visit for many years to India. A party of economists and civil servants hosted an exhibition of Belgian industrial products aboard the Zenobe Gramme. A party of Indian naval officers toured the Wielingen and her air group gave a demonstration flight of her Fokker T.XIV-Wm seaplanes.

4 April
The Royal Institute for International Relations has been founded by a number of distinguished Belgian politicians. The Institute will act as a ‘think-tank’ for international relations policies and to aid training of diplomats and civil servants. Among the Belgian founding figures are former Prime Minister Paul van Zeeland, member of the International Court of Justice Prof. Charles de Visscher, Prof. Fernand Dehousse and Senator and Barrister-at-law Prof. Henri Rolin.

6 April
More than 50mm of rainfall has been recorded in the Ardennes.


Sunday, April 10th 2016, 10:44am

9 April
After crossing the Indian Ocean, encountering a Force 7 storm en-route, the Belgian Far Eastern cruise reached Singapore, the heart of the British Empire in the Far East. The ships anchored among the ships of the Far Eastern Fleet. Amiral de flottille Jules A. G. Reynders and the officers of the three ships were guests of honour for dinner with the Commander in Chief Far East, Admiral Sir Geoffrey Blake, and his staff. The next day as the ships refuelled, Reynders and his staff toured the aircraft carrier HMS Audacious, where they also had lunch. Soon, following repairs to minor storm damage the ships departed for their next leg of their voyage, to the Dutch East Indies.

10 April
A warehouse containing newly delivered copies newspapers for distribution in Mons and Charleroi, including copies of the Frontist newspaper De Schelde, has been burned down overnight in Soignies. Police are investigating the cause.

11 April
The Belgian Far East touring naval force of the Wielingen, Van Haverbeke and Zenobe Gramme arrived in Batavia today on the next leg of their tour. For the next two days they will undertake exercises with the Dutch 11th and 12th Destroyer Flotillas and the 6th Cruiser Division consisting of CL-33 Van Galen and CL-34 Van Ghent, Wielingen’s near-sisters. The exercises are mainly composed of commerce raider hunting scenarios.


Saturday, April 16th 2016, 11:54am

12 April
Inspector Bruet of the Mons Police made a short statement to the press that investigations revealed the warehouse in Soignies that was burned down was due to carelessness on the part of a night-shift worker who had carelessly tossed a smoked cigarette onto the floor, unknowingly setting some paper scraps on fire. It is thought that no malicious intent was evident.

14 April
The Belgian Far East touring naval force of the Wielingen, Van Haverbeke and Zenobe Gramme arrived in Soerabaja harbour this afternoon. For the next two days they will undertake exercises attached to the Dutch 3rd Carrier Division comprised of CV-3 Brederode, CA-2 Fleroland, CL-29 Windhond and CL-30 Waterhond. The Dutch ships will form part of the escort of the carrier group as they engage Red Fleet forces.

19 April
Leaving Sumatra behind two days ago, the Belgian tour continues as the three ships sailed into Darwin to mark the first Belgian naval visit of Australia for many years. As a close supplier of guns, light craft and plans to enable construction of cruisers in Belgium, Australia is a key naval ally and the crews were treated ashore as VIP guests. Amiral de flottille Jules A. G. Reynders showed RAN officers around Wielingen and the ship’s crew had opportunity to lay on its own hospitality.


Monday, April 18th 2016, 4:35pm

20 April
The Aéronautique Militaire/ Militair Vliegwezen Renard has ordered twelve Renard R.45 twin-engined transport aircraft for delivery next year. The twin-boom cargo has rear fuselage clamshell doors to aid loading and can carry 48 troops and is powered by two 2,375hp Minerva Condor II 24-cylinder radial engines.

22 April
Heading north again, Wielingen, Van Haverbeke and Zenobe Gramme called into Ternate. Here once again the Belgian crews put aside any holiday airs from their recent Australian visit and soon get back into combat routine as more exercises begin. This time the Belgian fleet poses as enemy raiders trying to enter the Banda Sea. Arrayed against them are the seaplane carriers AV-2 De Groot and AVP-1 Mercurr, KBH class gunboats, small minesweeper patrol boats and MAS 1000 fast craft as well as shore-based aircraft.

27 April
Following mixed success during the exercises and repairs to a fractured steam pipe aboard Van Haverbeke, the Belgian naval tour resumed its diplomatic efforts and today made a flag visit to Luzon in the Philippines. The party of economists and civil servants hosted another exhibition aboard the Zenobe Gramme and a party of senior Philippine naval officers were shown around the ship.


Tuesday, April 26th 2016, 9:01pm

30 April
Again showing the flag, Wielingen, Van Haverbeke and Zenobe Gramme laid anchor alongside French ships in Saigon. The crews were invited ashore and the officers dined with Marine Nationale officers. Although neighbours, it was unusual for them to meet so far from home and conversation was full of interesting topics regarding the orient and the situation regarding China. While here the ship’s crew casted their election ballots which were then flown by Air France and Imperial Airways aircraft back to Belgium in special sealed caskets.

1 May
General Election, at poll booths across the country voters queued and cast their ballots. The leaders of all the main parties were still on the campaign trail and several speeches were made in the large town halls. Rumours circulate that the Dutch government is watching anxiously as the outcome may affect the Economic Union plans already voted through the political system.


Saturday, April 30th 2016, 10:27am

2 May

Results of the General Election for the Chamber of Representatives:
Belgian Labour Party: 77
Christian Social Party: 60
Liberal Party: 39
Flemish National Union: 17
Christian Flemish People's Union: 7
Communist Party of Belgium: 2
Technocrat Party: 0
Anc. Combat. /Oudstrijder: 0
Independents: 0

Results of the General Election for the Senate:
Belgian Labour Party: 39
Christian Social Party: 37
Liberal Party: 14
Flemish National Union: 10
Christian Flemish People's Union: 1
Communist Party of Belgium: 0

Having won the most seats in the Chamber of Representatives and the Senate, the Belgian Labour Party will form the next government.

Amiral de flottille Jules A. G. Reynders in Singapore held a brief press conference as the Van Haverbeke took on fuel at Singapore for the return voyage home and as a Royal Navy party toured the cruiser Wielingen. There had been many comments as to possible reasons why the Belgians had not ventured further north and visited China and Japan on their flag showing tour. Some suspected a pointed diplomatic snub, others that the Belgians feared increasing tensions in the area and others that the Belgian ships were simply at the end of their endurance. Indeed the Wielingen had held up reasonably well but her defect list was growing and the Van Haverbeke was still having problems with her boilers and conditions below decks were not good. Reynders explained that his ships were due home for the start of the summer exercises and that operational problems had curtailed the voyage.

3 May
The Belgian Labour Party has appointed the ambitious and talented politician Paul-Henri Spaak to be Prime Minister. The Council of Ministers will include the positions of:
Prime Minister: Paul-Henri Spaak
Minister of Finance: Jean Vauthier
Minister of Foreign Affairs: Camille Huysmans
Minister of Defence: Raoul de Fraiteur
Minister of the Interior: Piet Vermeylen
Minister of Justice: Henri Rolin
Minister of Labour and Social Services: Achille Van Acker
Minister of Public Health: Edmond Leburton
Minister of Public Education: Leo Collard

The former Prime Minister, Count Hubert Marie Eugène Pierlot, has taken his seat in the Senate.


Saturday, April 30th 2016, 8:20pm

The German Government expresses its congratulations to Monsieur Spaak on becoming Prime Minister, and hopes that this will see a new chapter for friendlier relations between Belgium and Germany.


Monday, May 2nd 2016, 5:16pm

10 May
The Belgian Far East touring naval force of the Wielingen, Van Haverbeke and Zenobe Gramme arrived at Djibouti this afternoon following an uneventful crossing of the Indian Ocean. The flag visit was most welcomed by the locals and the crews had some shore time before setting sail the next morning, heading north to the Suez Canal. They left behind some Belgian lace and glossy brochures of industrial goods.

12 May
The Belgian naval tour passed through the Suez Canal without mishap. Van Haverbeke took on fuel for the next leg of the voyage.

14 May
The Wielingen, Van Haverbeke and Zenobe Gramme made another flag visit today, this time to Suda Bay on Crete. Several Greek officers toured the Wielingen as the party of economists and civil servants hosted the usual industrial exhibition aboard the Zenobe Gramme. Here a party of twenty new midshipmen joined the Wielingen, they had travelled overland from Belgium to join the ship.


Saturday, May 14th 2016, 12:30pm

16 May
The Wielingen, Van Haverbeke and Zenobe Gramme made a flag visit to Malta today, entering the Grand Harbour. The crews went ashore and the officers dined ashore.

17 May
The Wielingen, Van Haverbeke and Zenobe Gramme made a flag visit to Taranto in Italy following a short voyage from Valetta. The Belgian officers dined with the port commander and several officers of cruisers stationed there. Van Haverbeke suffered an electrical fault on trying to exit the harbour the following day and remained behind with Zenobe Gramme to effect repairs.

21 May
Van Haverbeke and Zenobe Gramme finally catch up with Wielingen at Gibraltar following two days of repairs to the destroyer.


Tuesday, May 24th 2016, 8:41pm

24 May
The Ministry of Transport has published its masterplan for a network of Autoroutes/ Autosnelwegen highways across the country. The first such road was opened in 1937 between Brussels and Ostend. It mainly serves local industries and tourism as a connection between the capital and the coastal region. However, now traffic is increasing with higher car ownership figures and better links with neighbouring networks are required, the plan calls for the creation a complete network of 930km (580 miles).

26 May
The Wielingen, Van Haverbeke and Zenobe Gramme have arrived at Porto, Iberia on the final leg of their tour. This is the last official port visit and the Belgian ships will spend two days here. Several Iberian naval officers toured the Wielingen while the party of economists and civil servants hosted the usual industrial exhibition aboard the Zenobe Gramme.

1 June – Antwerp
Amiral de flottille Jules A. G. Reynders led the Far East touring naval force back into Antwerp harbour today at the completion of their voyage. As the three ships tied up to their usual moorings the crews on deck were bronzed and had plenty of tales and experiences to relate to their friends in other ships and their families. The officers meanwhile had already begun the task of preparing a report on the voyage and how the men and ships stood up to their voyage. The scruffy, rusting patches on the hulls and the list of spares required indicated how arduous the trip had been even with the support of a dedicated tender. Reynders was sure this would not be the last such operation however.


Monday, May 30th 2016, 11:26am

27 June
A Maximum temperature of 38.8°C has been recorded in Uccle, the highest ever value recorded in Belgium.

29 June
The 1947 Belgian Grand Prix was held at Spa-Francorchamps today, the event was also billed as the European Grand Prix.
Only seven of the eighteen drivers finished the race.
The Frenchman Jean-Pierre Wimille driving an Alfa Romeo 158 was the victor. The Italian Achille Varzi in another Alfa Romeo 158 came second and his fellow nationals Carlo Felice Trossi and Giovanbattista Guidotti in another Alfa Romeo 158 came third. The other finishers, in order, were: Britons Bob Gerard and Cuth Harrison in an ERA B; Frenchman France Maurice Trintignant in a Delage D6.70, Frenchman Louis Rosier in a Talbot 150SS and British driver Leslie Johnson in a Talbot 150C.


Sunday, June 12th 2016, 11:05am

8 July
The government confirmed today that two new light cruisers will be included in the 1948 and 1950 naval building programmes. One will be configured as a training ship capable of undertaking extended voyages whilst giving cadets an opportunity to learn seamanship in a variety of climatic conditions. The second cruiser will be a similar design but with additional guns and will be the replacement for the cruiser Wandelaar.

11 July
Renard have flown their latest product, the RS-7 two-seat tandem cockpit monoplane basic military trainer. Based on developments of their successful biplane line of trainers, the RS-7 is powered by a 185hp Mathis G.7R engine. Service evaluation will begin in the autumn and the company are hopeful of official orders from the air force.


Saturday, June 18th 2016, 10:38am

14 July
The destroyers DD-6 Georges Truffaut and DD-7 Francois Bovesse are in Toulon to mark Bastille Day alongside the naval vessels from several nations. Following this port visit the ships will also call in at Malta and Crete and Alexandria on a mini-tour of the Mediterranean.

20 July
Four vessels of the old MS-1 Class of minesweepers set off from Zeebrugge today in consort with the destroyer tender Groenendael. The ships are making a delivery voyage to Pacifica and the Groenendael will be providing support en-route and will ferry the crews back following the delivery.

27 July
The Flagship of the Navy, the cruiser King Albert, and the destroyer DD-3 A.F. Dufour are in Kronshtadt to mark Russian Naval Day. This marks the first time Belgian naval ships have visited the port in many years.

29 July
After the severe weather in the winter, Belgium is now basking in a heat wave. The maximum temperature has been above 30°C for 8 consecutive days in Rochefort. Holidaymakers have flocked to the coast to enjoy the beaches and summer sports.


Saturday, July 16th 2016, 12:10pm

9 September
The large Dutch-designed fleet replenishment ship, the RT-1 Ekster Cornelius has commissioned with the 1st Support Squadron at Antwerp today.

12 September
The aircraft companies Constructions Aeronautiques G. Renard and Stampe & Vertongen have officially merged today to create the Constructions Aeronautiques Renard et Stampe (CARS). The company will consolidate each company’s product line and allow economies of scale given the small domestic and export marker. CARS has three factories at Deurne, Evére and Antwerp.

13 September
Hailstones up to 5cm have fallen during storms today in the region of Mechelen and Antwerp. Some minor damage was caused to windows and vehicles. This has occurred as Belgium soaks up a late heatwave, since 11 September temperatures have been above 30 °C.

19 September
The heatwave continues for the seventh day, maximum temperatures reached 30.6°C in Uccle and 33.3°C in Rochefort. This will take September has the warmest this century with an average temperate of 21.5°C.