Saturday, September 18, 2010

General Felix Wielemans

Lieutenant-General Félix Maximilien Eugène Wielemans was born on January 10, 1863 and was destined to become one of the most important military commanders in one of the most important wars Belgium has ever fought. From 1913 to 1915 he served as Head of the Military Cabinet of the Minister of War Charles de Broqueville during which time, obviously, World War I came to Belgium with the Germans invasion. Starting in 1914 Lieutenant-General of the Infantry Wielemans also began service as the Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Army until 1915 when he was promoted to Chief of the General Staff. This made him carry a great deal of responsibility and he was in many ways the most important figure in the army at that time next to S.M. King Albert I. In December of 1915 at the Allied War Council Wielemans he represented Belgium, reporting on the combat potential and possibilities of the Belgian army in the upcoming Allied operations of 1917. He also represented Belgium at the Paris Conference in March of 1916.

During his career General Wielemans was highly decorated. He was made a Commander of the Order of the Crown , an Officer of the Order of Leopold, awarded the Croix de Guerre, the Military Cross 1st Class and the Medal Commemorative of the Reign of Leopold II. His foreign decorations were the Grand Cross of the Order of St. Stanislaus and the Order of St. Anne with Swords of Russia , he was made a Grand Officer of the Order of Bath of Great Britain, an Officer of the Order of the Sword of Sweden , made a Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau of the Netherlands, was awarded the French Croix de Guerre and was made a Commander of the French Legion of Honor by Marshal Joffre. Many think that generals in World War I always stayed far away from the front, living in luxury while their soldiers suffered. This is really not true as anyone can see by the number of generals killed in combat during the whole war. Even a "desk soldier" like General Wielemans often visited the trenches. While on such a visit he came down with pneumonia and quickly died on January 5, 1917 at Houtem before his plans for the army campaigns could be launched.

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