Saturday, October 13, 2012

Belgian Enfields in WWI

World War I was triggered by the assassination in Sarajevo of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. The event took place on the 28th of June 1914, and a month of confusion followed before Germany and Russia mobilized at the end of July. The United Kingdom declared war on Germany August 4th after an unsatisfactory reply to an ultimatum that Belgium should be kept neutral. The Germans invaded Belgium as part of the Schlieffen plan, whose goal was to slice quickly towards Paris. The Belgians put up an heroic resistance, with an army one tenth the size of the German one, but were eventually overrun. This may make a bit surprising the announcement in The Motor Cycle  on September 24th that the Belgian government had just placed an order for 3hp Enfields, the first order of V-Twins for the war. I guess this was for the Belgian government in the exile, that set up shop in Le Havre in France. Certain sectors of Belgium were never occupied by the Germans and Belgian troops continued combat after the stalemate in the Western Front so they needed their motorcycles. And we should never forget Elsie and Mairi, they were stationed with the Belgian army and rode a Royal Enfield.

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