This proposal concerns a project about the engagement of the French Brigade des Fusiliers Marins (Navy Fusiliers Brigade) during the first months of the First World War. The aim of the project is to clarify the not so well known role that this Brigade played in the protection of the retreat of the Belgian Army from Antwerp to the Yser. It also describes the conditions under which approximately 6,000 men (mainly Bretonnian seamen), retreated in four days, with the Belgian Army, from Melle near Ghent to Diksmuide, where they finally held their positions against the German invasion.
The story of the Navy fusiliers is the main thread throughout the project that consists of a series of events on the marching roads of this Brigade. This sets the historical events in an real environment and can be used as a starting point to offer moments of reflection and experience on the problem of war and peace. Furthermore, the retreat from Antwerp was, due to the rapid evolution of the violence of the war, a simultaneous retreat of Belgian, French and British troops, which gives the project an international dimension. French and British partners can thus be associated with the project.
The activities are centred on three areas – commemoration, remembrance and honour – realised by educational activities, a remembrance march and some ceremonies respectively. The three areas of the project each have their proper own objectives, but are nevertheless complementary, as they all cover the same facts based on three different approaches, each targeting a specific group. The activities are organised around the historical and geographical developments of the Brigade’s engagement. The theme of war and peace is represented by targeting the local anchor points and visualising the interaction with the local civilian population – who through these events became aware of the approaching war in a concrete way.
The educational activities will be composed of an ensemble of educational packs, thematic walks, information and walking brochures and exhibitions, all of them locally established. The historical content will be examined in cooperation with museums, official archives and local historical circles, while the pedagogical and methodological aspects will be developed in cooperation with the colleges for teachers’ education. For the practical organisation of the remembrance march and the walks, the Marching Federation Aktivia will be called upon. The ceremonies will be organised in cooperation with the local and federal authorities, who will also be in charge of the logistical support. Finally, Prof. Em. Etienne Rooms will be in charge of the scientific accompaniment of the project.
The project is open to all cooperation with other initiatives or projects which may, by their historic complementarities or by possible synergies in the organisation of events, offer a common additional value.
‘Le comité de labellisation de la Mission du centenaire de la Première Guerre mondiale’ has decided, after advice of the scientific council, to assign the label “Centenaire” to our project “from the Scheldt to the Yser”.