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I am hoping someone can point me to some on-line resources regarding the activity of Belgian Army Recruitment Centers in France during (and after) the 1940 campaign.
I have documentation that some functions of the Belgian Army administration continued (in France) into July 1940. My starting assumption is that these activities were to complete administrative actions (such as pay to recruits), but am trying to better understand the background, and, if possible, why some elements remained as active as long as they did.
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This remember me a thread in a french-speaking forum
CRAB Centres de Recrutement de l'Armée Belge, remaining in France until the end of august 1940
From May 10, 1940, obeying the orders of Lieutenant General Hubert Denis, Minister of National Defense, several tens of thousands of young men joined or attempted to join, in an emergency and by their own means, the Recruitment Centers of the Belgian Army, commonly known as the CRAB
The order was given to men aged 16 to 35 by means of posters signed by the Minister of National Defense, by radio announcements and in the press. They were nearly 150,000 young men concerned to surrender, in the most total disorganization in the Recruitment Centers located in the cities of Hainaut and West Flanders. These Centers having been closed on May 13, 1940, they received the military order to go to France.
During long forced marches, these young men crossed on foot, by bicycle or in railway cattle for the lucky ones, the cities of Saint-Quentin, Abbeville, Rouen, Toulouse, Nîmes, Montpellier and many others, to join the camps and cantonments in the South of France.
Those who were not ordered to stop by order of the French gendarmerie and who reached the planned camps, were then commanded there militarily. The majority of them were read military laws. Many of them were assigned for the benefit of the Defense and public administrations or hired by civilians. Others were sent to the front line to reinforce and help French military engineers dig trenches.
On May 28, 1940, they were not affected by the surrender of the Belgian fighting army. The C.R.A.B. thus lived more than a quarter consigned in the cantonments, without any comfort, badly housed, badly nourished, with their clothes and shoes in tatters. While the soldiers who supervised them were in uniform, wore helmets and heavy shoes, were armed, supplied by the military administration, accompanied by medical teams and received their salaries, the C.R.A.B. were in civilian clothes, without protection from the rain, without defense or any security, without receiving pay and with insufficient medical or food aid. Another difference between the military and the C.R.A.B. was that the former wore a breakable registration medal, while the C.R.A.B. were in no way identifiable. Since the companies were created in haste and the C.R.A.B. came from various regions, it happened that no one could give the name of a victim who was a member of the C.R.A.B.
Among the victims of the German offensive are hundreds of CRABs, killed in bombardments or in skirmishes, either shot by the Germans (because they were suspected of being snipers) or finally died as a result of their attacks. injuries, exhaustion, malnutrition or infectious diseases contracted in unsanitary camps and cantonments in the South of France.
These young people in the camps were formed into "companies" charged, by requisition of the French army, with digging trenches north of Paris where some were strafed, bombarded, wounded or killed. Others, following the rapid advance of German troops, crossed the Swiss border and were interned for nearly a year.
According to the chances of repatriation, the C.R.A.B. remained in the cantonments for 3 to 4 months. The moment of return to Belgium was, for many, the second half of August 1940.
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