Gravensteen castle/SAS

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Tricky1982, Feb 5, 2013.

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  1. I was in Belgium for a few days over the weekend (beer festival in Bruges) and we took a train to Gent for a bit of exploring on the Sunday. I saw these plaques in the entrance to the Gravensteen castle and just wondered what the significance was as there was no explanation given & I don't speak Flemish. Are they to do with the liberation of Gent or something else?

    IMAG1157.jpg IMAG1158.jpg
  2. There was a Belgian SAS squadron in WW2 (and after). Not sure if there still is.

    Second plaque looks to be a memorial to a wartime Belgian SAS member.
  3. It's to Col Eddie Blondeel, 5SAS Free Belgian Forces. Think they rounded up a lot of Nazis in Belgium in 45.
    Try this link

    Eddy Blondeel, spelt that one wrong!
  4. Memorial plaque to the Belgian Squadron and its successor regiment, which eventually formed part of the Belgian Paracommando Regiment.
  5. I'm in Ghent fairly often and I had a look after seeing the plaque. I think the SS/Gestapo types rather liked the city. It was liberated by 7th Desert Rats. I think basically that the SAS connection was connected to recce and sabotage work in advance of liberation then clearing up work.
  6. Cheers chaps that's cleared it up for me somewhat! Nice city as well, some of it seemed a bit rougher than Bruges but still a lot of interesting stuff to see.
  7. Post War, Gent was the Port through which all ammunition shipments to BAOR passed. When I was stationed in 41 Security Section in Emblem between 1977 and 1980, these shipments would regularly arrive aboard the RFA EMPIRE GULL, an old cargo ship that was built during World War Two. Her mascot was a smelly seagull which occupied a pride of place near the bridge.

    As Glad Its All Over Says, the original plaque (in Vlaamse -Flemish) is from the people of Gent to thank the 1st SAS Regiment (which included a Squadron of Belgian SAS) in the historic freedom of the town. Their successors from what remains of the Para Commando Brigade (approximately 2 Battalions with Engineer and Artillery Support) wear either the Green Commando Beret with Commando Dagger sleeve badge, or Maroon Parachute Battalion Beret with similar, although slightly smaller Parachute Wings. I have also heard rumours that a SAS Platoon (1 Belgian SAS) exists within their Intervention Group but I can't confirm this.
  8. It's the other way around as I read it. The SAS thanks the city of Gent of letting them use (or stay) at that historic location.
  9. You win :)
  10. Reference Kolonel Ed Blondeel:

    "Eddy" Blondeel, then a Captain (nicknamed Captain Blunt), commanded the Belgian Independent Parachute Company, consisting of approximately 100 men, which was created at Ringway, Manchester on 08 May 1942. In 1944, it became fully operational and was attached to 1st SAS Brigade, retaining its Parachute Regiment Maroon Berets. In July 1944 it was dropped behind German lines in the Falaise Gap, in France, and fought as a Belgian Squadron attached to the SAS. In August 1944, they were the first allied Squadron to jump into the Ardennes and one of the first units into Belgium tasked with organising a coordinated resistance for the allies. In December 1944, the unit was re-equipped with specially armoured Willy's Jeeps and tasked with protecting 21 Army Group during the Battle of the Bulge. In late December they are attached to 6th Airborne Division, tasked with protecting the flank. In February 1945, the Squadron is re-named the Belgian SAS Regiment and Ed Blondeel is promoted to Major. The Regiment remained active in both Holland and Germany until the surrender in Europe, by which time they had reached the port of Wilhelmshaven. They then returned to their base at Terneuven in Belgium and began training for the Far East, but unfortunately the war ended with the surrender of the Japanese. Of the original Squadron at the end of the war, 15 had been killed, 58 had been wounded and 2 had been executed by the Germans. Colonel Blondeel went on to further promotion until his retirement.

    I should have added that during the Ardennes offensive, some men wore the Canadian Maple Leaf insignia and carried Canadian identity papers to minimise any reprisals against their families still in Belgium
  11. Think Stanley is on the right tack in terms of who thanked who.
    It says thanks TO the city of Gent.

    If there was a plaque for liberation it seemed to me it should be to the British /allies as I haven't read anywhere the SAS liberated the city alone. A whole load of armour etc did.

    The translation is along these lines:

    "Thanks to the city of Gent for the symbolic setting of this historical place of the 1st Reg Para SAS."

    So "Our thanks to city of Gent for allowing 1st Reg Para SAS use of this historical place."

    Or "1st Para Reg SAS was 'ere"

    It is a very fine castle with great panoramic views of the city.
  12. My apologies - I never said I was fluent !!!
  13. And packed full of particularly nasty looking medieval torture devices in one of the rooms!
  14. tis true. wander if anyone used them in recent times.

  15. :)

    No need to apologise! I didn't think you were fluent or pretending to be or whatever. Just quoted you because quoting the OP's picture didn't work and you had part of the translation up. :)