Burkel-Maldegem, Belgium - Liberation Ceremony.
Commemoration of the Battle of Burkel by the 1st Regiment of the Guides and the commemoration of the liberation of Maldegem by the 2nd Regiment of the Guides during WWI on Friday 25th October 2019.
Remembering "Charge Burkel"
In 1918, the Army Group Flanders, under the orders of King Albert I, executed a liberation offensive to recapture the territory occupied by German troops since 1914.
On October 18th the 5th Army Division had reached Bruges and the 7th Infantry Division Oostkamp was recaptured. The Cavalry Division was given the assignment to attack Eeklo. However, because the bridges in Ruddervoorde were destroyed, they could not do this. The cavalrymen were instructed to take positions behind the 1st Infantry Division, west of Ruddervoorde.
In the night of 18 to 19 October 1918 the German troops began to withdraw. The cavalry division was instructed to follow the enemy retreat in two pillars in the direction of Eeklo. In addition, the northern column with the 1st Brigade in the lead - also called the Gidsenbrigade - came under fire from the German rearguard at Burkel.
On October 19, 1918 around five o'clock in the evening, the 3rd and the 4th squadron of the 1st Regiment Guides, preceded by two machine guns, received the order to take the German positions on the Vossenhol and Burkel by storm.
After a preparatory fire of the artillery, the cavalry, on the orders of Major Victor van Strydonck, carried out a heavy charge with drawn saber on the German line. A dozen cavalrymen were killed, including captains commander Count Francis de Meeûs, adjutant Guy van der Cruycen and the driver of one of the autos-machine guns. After the two autos-machine-guns were turned off and killed horses blocked the road, the horseback charge could not continue. They then continued the attack on two German machine gun lines on foot.
At nightfall, they determined that the enemy had withdrawn under pressure from the attack. Thus the German resistance was broken and the 2nd Regiment Guides could liberate Maldegem on 20 October.
The charge of Burkel, the last of the Belgian cavalry, is celebrated all over the country and the mention 'Burkel' is added to the standard of the 1st Regiment Guides. With the liberation of the city of Maldegem on October 20th, the 2nd Regiment Guides got the mention 'Maldegem' on its standard.
On 18 October 1931 the memorial was inaugurated, founded by the oldest son of captain-commander de Meeûs. This happened under massive interest and in the presence of numerous high Belgian officers, the Maldegem former combatants' association and many other associations. To this day, a commemoration ceremony takes place every year in October in the presence of the mayor and members of the Maldegem College, the fraternization of the 1st Regiment Guides and the primary school Vossenhol.