1940 - 1945





Already in 1940 the need was great for trained gunners manning the canons
on board of the Belgian merchant ships.

The Belgian Government in Exile ordered that Army personell would follow the training
at the Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships Training Center (D.E.M.S.) in Liverpool.

They would be temporarily detached to the Royal Navy.

The DEMS Training Center had 3 sections :
British Section
Dutch Section
Belgian Section.

Different courses were given at the Belgian Section :

Certificate attesting that private DE BRUCKER René was attending the DEMS course.
Private DE BRUCKER was one of the few Belgians who fought at Narvik, Norway in 1940 as a member of the French Foreign Legion.
He also fought in Erythrea with the French Foreign Legion, and joined the Belgian Forces in the UK in 1942.

Instructors were recruited among Belgian Merchant Navy officers.

Training for the Belgian crews started end of November 1940.

Instruction at the Belgian Section DEMS Training Center in Liverpool.
May 1943, Belgian Instructors at the DEMS Training Center in Liverpool.

After a training period of 6 weeks, learning how to use small naval canons, AA-guns and other machineguns,
detachments of 10 men were formed, and assigned to a Belgian merchant ship.

Altough they were no part of the regular crew of the ship, they ate and slept together.

They manned the guns of the merchant ships, and sailed on all oceans,
defending those ships against enemy attacks..

Atlantic Ocean 1941, Belgian Marine men watching the sky for enemy planes.


June 21 1943, Gunners of the "Belgian Marine" unit on board of the MS "BELGIAN CREW"
July 1943, Minister of Transport BALTHAZAR
in conversation with the captain and a gunner DEMS of the MS "BELGIAN CREW".

The "Belgian Marine" detachments were disbanded at the end of the War.




At the beginning the men wore their Army uniform, but this caused some confusion.

"Navy" men in "Army" uniform.

It was only at the beginning of 1942 that the problem was solved.

The men, altough Army, would wear the Royal Navy uniform,
but with the well known "BELGIUM" title on both shoulders,
and a cap tally of their own wearing the text "BELGIAN MARINE"


"BELGIUM" title worn by the BELGIAN MARINE men


Gunner of the "Belgian Marine" unit
wearing the cap tally.

The Gunlayer wore the Royal Navy badge of Gunlayer DEMS :
2 crossed gunbarrels with a star above and a star below, with the letter Q under it, and DEMS under it all.

The gunner wore the Royal Navy badge of Gunner DEMS :
a gunbarrel with a star above and the letters Q and DEMS below.

Colors of the badges :
red on Navy blue for the blue uniform
blue on white for the white tropical uniform.

Gunlayer DEMS
variant for tropical uniform
  Gunner DEMS
variant for tropical uniform

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