King Philippe took part in the commemorations for the 75th anniversary of the battle of Lys in Courtrai this morning. The remembrance ceremony paid homage to the resistance of Belgian troops during the German invasion in May 1940. On the 22nd of May 1940, the Belgian army decided to retrench behind the Lys, and the Belgian soldiers were only pushed back a few kilometres over the next 5 days, until the battle ended on the 28th of May. Around 3,000 Belgian soldiers and nearly four times as many Germans died during the battle of the Lys, allowing allied soldiers to fall back towards England.
Only three hundred people attended the ceremony, due to the rainy weather. A few politicians, including the governor of the West Flanders province, Carl Decaluwé, and the Courtrai mayor Vincent Van Quickenborne, attended, as well as the British ambassador Alison Rose.
This year, particular attention was paid to 5 former soldiers, including Raymond Van Slembrouck, who is today a centenarian. He was taken prisoner on the 25th of May 1940, on the edge of the Lys. The Germans sent him to work near the Baltic Sea. He was freed in December 1940.