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Victor van Strydonck de Burkel

Lieutenant-general BEM Victor Jean Clement, Baron van Strydonck de Burkel[a] (16 July 1876, Antwerp – 4 August 1961, Etterbeek)[b][1] was a general of the Belgian Army and the primary architect of the formation of the Free Belgian Forces after Belgium's official surrender on May 28, 1940 in World War II.

Baron van Strydonck de Burkel
United Nations Day Parade, London, 14 June 1943 TR1113.jpg
General van Strydonck de Burkel in London, 1943
Birth nameVictor Jean Clement van Strydonck
Born(1876-07-16)16 July 1876
Antwerp, Belgium
Died4 August 1961(1961-08-04) (aged 85)
Etterbeek, Belgium
Service/branchBelgian Army
Commands heldChief of the Belgian Military Mission to Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force
Battles/warsWorld War I World War II

Military careerEdit

First World War and InterwarEdit

In 1918, as an officer in the 1st Regiment of Guides, Victor van Strydonck commanded the last cavalry charge in western Europe, the successful Charge of Burkel. For his role in the charge, van Strydonck was made a baron and given the title "de Burkel" in 1937 after the location of the battle.

A cavalry officer, van Strydonck de Burkel commanded the Cavalry School (1920–1923) and the 1st Cavalry Division (1928–1933), served as the inspector-general of the Belgian Gendarmerie (1933–1939), and was the commander of the Cavalry Corps (1933–1939) prior to World War II. In 1938, Van Strydonck announced his retirement from the army but was re-activated in late 1939 when war between Britain, France and Germany broke out although Belgium remained neutral.[2]

Second World WarEdit

During the invasion of Belgium by Germany in May 1940, van Strydonck de Burkel commanded the 1st Military Zone.[citation needed] At his own initiative, Van Strydonck created a camp in Tenby, Wales where he established a Camp militaire belge de Regroupment (CMBR) for Belgian soldiers who had escaped to Britain after the surrender.[2] Initially, morale among the several hundred soldiers was extremely low among the troops in Tenby and drunkenness and insubordination presented a major problem.[2] Van Strydonck lobbied the British to improve the conditions and, to keep the soldiers busy, organized a major parade on Belgian National Day (21 July) 1941. He succeeded in affiliating the Belgian contingent with the local Home Guard which improved morale.[2]

With the arrival of the Belgian government in exile and the formal creation of the Free Belgian Forces, he became the Commander in Chief and presided over the gradual organization of the 1st Belgian Infantry Brigade, a unit that later fought in the campaign in northwestern Europe. In 1941 he became the Inspector-General of the Belgian ground forces in Great Britain.

After the Allies re-entered northwestern Europe in 1944, van Strydonck de Burkel became the Chief of the Belgian Military Mission to Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF).[3]



  1. ^ In Dutch, his surname can also be rendered with an IJ digraph as in "van Strijdonck de Burkel".
  2. ^ Dates provided by Dr. Pierre Lierneux of the Belgian Museum of the Army on 24 June 2009. Some sources incorrectly give 1953 as his year of death.


  1. ^ "van STRIJDONCK de BURKEL, Baron Victor, J.-C". Retrieved 6 May 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d Grosbois 2007, p. 280.
  3. ^ "Van Strydonck de Burkel, Victor-Jean-Clement Baron, General". Retrieved 6 May 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i "van STRIJDONCK de BURKEL". Retrieved 29 November 2018.


  • Keegan, John, ed. (2001). "Strydonck de Burkel, General Victor van". Who's Who in World War II. Abingdon: Routledge. p. 151. ISBN 9781107612334.
  • Decat, Frank (2007). De Belgen in Engeland 40/45: de Belgische strijdkrachten in Groot-Brittannië tijdens WOII. Tielt: Lannoo. ISBN 978-90-209-6981-8.
  • De Vos, Luc (2001). "The Reconstruction of Belgian Military Forces in Britain, 1940-1945". In Conway, Martin; Gotovitch, José (eds.). Europe in exile : European exile communities in Britain 1940-45 (1st ed.). New York: Berghahn. pp. 81–99. ISBN 1-57181-503-1.
  • Grosbois, Thierry (2007). Pierlot, 1930–1950. Brussels: Racine. ISBN 2873864850.
  • Bernard, Henri (1988). "Van Strydonck de Burkel, Victor (1876–1961)". Nouvelle Biographie Nationale. 1. Brussels: Académie royale de Belgique. pp. 359–6.