Edegem - Alphonse Van Hecke 

Alphonse Van Hecke, born in 1890 in Antwerp (Belgium) and died on July 20, 1981 in Belgium, is a brigadier general of the French Army.

 

In 1911 Alphonse Van Hecke joined the Foreign Legion. He later obtained French naturalization. Before that, he participated in the First World War in the prestigious marching regiment of the Foreign Legion (RMLE) and was promoted to second lieutenant in 1917. Alphonse Van Hecke was cited four times during the conflict.

 

After the armistice of 1918, he served in the colonial army in Niger, then fought the Kurds in Syria and the pirates in Tonkin. Between 1936 and 1940, he served in the Special Services, which allowed him, in 1939, to settle in Antwerp, his hometown, under a false identity of Dutch merchant. Belgium and the Countries being still, temporarily, spared by the war, he used his knowledge of the Dutch language, his native language, and German to deploy a spy activity to Germany. Feeling spotted by German spies swarming in Belgium, he managed to return to France in early 1940.

 

During the Second World War, in June 1940 he commanded a battalion of Senegalese infantrymen who fought in particular at La Charité-sur-Loire. After the armistice, he became general commissioner of the Chantiers de la jeunesse française in North Africa. In 1942, he participated in the "group of five", with Henri d'Astier de La Vigerie, Jean Rigault, Jacques Lemaigre-Dubreuil and Jacques Tarbé de Saint-Hardouin, who welcomed the Allied landings in North Africa1,2. General Henri Giraud authorizes him to draw troops (eight hundred Europeans and two hundred North Africans) from the youth work camps to form the 7th regiment of African hunters (7th RCA), which is illustrated within the 3rd Algerian infantry division (3rd DIA), during the Italian campaign (1943-1944), the Provence landing (August 1944) and the Liberation campaign (1944-1945). The 7th RCA receives under his command three citations to the order of the Army during these campaigns.

 

Alphonse Van Hecke was promoted to brigadier general in 1946.

 

He married, in Antwerp, Emma Janssens with whom he has a son, the actor Pierre Vaneck3. This only son will leave for France at the end of adolescence to follow drama lessons and become a renowned French actor.

 

General Van Hecke, who returned to Belgium, his native country, died there in 1981, at the age of ninety-one.

 

Grades

1917: second lieutenant

1936: battalion chief

1943-1945: colonel of the 7th regiment of African hunters

1946: brigadier general

 

Decorations

Commander of the Legion of Honor (February 11, 1945)

Military medal

War Cross 1914-1918

War Cross 1939-1945

Colonial medal

Wounded Medal

Thirteen citations, including eight to the Army Order (six times injured)