Original Belgian WWI Garde Civique Chapeau Top Hat

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. The Garde Civique or Burgerwacht (French and Dutch; "Civic Guard") was a Belgian paramilitary militia which existed between 1830 and 1920. Created in October 1830 shortly after the Belgian Revolution, the Guard amalgamated the various militia groups which had been created by the middle classes to protect property during the political uncertainty. Its role was as a quasi-military "gendarmerie", with the primary role of maintaining social order within Belgium. Increasingly anachronistic, it was demobilised in 1914 and officially disbanded in 1920, following a disappointing performance during the German invasion of Belgium in World War I.

The Garde Civique were mobilised following the German invasion of Belgium on 4 August 1914. Their intended functions were to secure lines of communication, guard bridges and other installations, escort prisoners and maintain order outside the actual areas of combat. The German military authorities however chose to regard members of the Garde as franc-tireurs (irregulars) and, as such, not under the protection of international law if taken prisoner. Demands were made that they be disarmed and disbanded. In view of the German shooting of Belgian civilian hostages during the early stages of the invasion such threats were taken seriously and on 13 October 1914 King Albert I decreed the dissolution of the Garde.[12] Most of its younger members transferred to the regular Belgian Army.

The German threat to execute captured members of the Garde was not in the event acted on. While a number were held in prisoner of war camps all had been released by 1915.

This Chapeau Top Hat is constructed of wool with a leather rim band, cotton lined interior with leather sweat band. it features a green hat cord and flaming bomb brass badge. Size is approximately 6 3/4 US (54cm). Overall condition is good with expected signs of age and wear.
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