33 members of the 1st Infantry Brigade, also known as the “Brigade Piron”, of which 13 were present, were appointed Knights in the National Order of the Legion of Honour by the French government, at a ceremony at the French Embassy in Brussels on Friday, in presence of the French Secretary of State for Veterans Jean-Marc Todeschini and of the Minister of Defence Steven Vandeput. “France wishes to thank you for your outstanding bravery and commitment, which have helped link our 2 countries for so many years,” pointed out French Ambassador in Brussels Bernard Valero in his speech. “France will not forget your commitment and continues to safeguard the many traces left by your company in Normandy (Cote Fleurie), whether commemorative steles, names of roads, or tombs. We all know the ‘Belgians’ Bridge’, rebuilt between Deauville and Trouville in your memory, you, our liberators.”
Formed by Belgians refusing Nazi occupation, in Great-Britain in 1940, the brigade was under the command of Jean-Baptiste Piron, a Belgian officer in charge of coordinating involvement in the fight against the nazi regime, from January 1942.
The 1st Infantry Brigade sailed across the Channel on August 6th, 1944, destined for the Normandy coastline and was operational on the front as early as August 9th. It crossed over into Belgium on September 3rd and entered Brussels the following day.