A historic calling

Since 1926 emblems of reserve units and disbanded corps are entrusted to the Royal Military Museum. When such an event takes place, the Museum is the scene of touching and resplendent ceremonies.

The emblem unveiled

Regimental emblems are identifying marks on the battlefield and are therefore revered by the regiment and guarded as true treasures by the chief of corps. The greatest dishonour to fall upon a regiment is the emblem’s loss to the enemy. When emblems risk of falling in the wrong hands, they have to be burnt, destroyed or hidden. During the Eighteen-Day Campaign in 1940 the Belgian army therefore hid quite a few of them.

In the army each unit has an emblem handed over by the king. According to the unit concerned, one speaks of a flag (70 x 70 cm) for the carabineers-cyclists, the engineering corps and the transmission corps, of a standard (80 x 80 cm) for the cavalry or the artillery and of a pennant (90 x 90 cm) for the infantry. The king also has an emblem, called command pennant, but that is not considered as a regimental emblem.

Mention of extraordinary actions in the units’ daily reports are embroidered on the emblems. When the entire unit receives a distinction a braided cord is attached to the emblem’s base, exactly under the lion. This has the same colour as the honorary distinction’s sash. Red cords, in the colour of the War Cross, are granted to units who obtained two mentions in the daily reports. Four mentions yield an amaranthine cord, the colour of the Order of Leopold.

The Royal Military Museum possesses about one hundred items in this category. Some of them are on display in the showcase between the Historic Gallery and the Bordiau Gallery. Be sure to go and admire them. They indeed are the testimonials of heavy sacrifices…