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Grave Honorary Lieutenant Colonel Mesmaekers

The Mesmaekers family grave contains, among others, Honorary Lieutenant Colonel Gaston Herman Jules Marie Mesmaekers, former combatant in both world wars. Born on October 16, 1888 in Turnhout, Gaston died on December 3, 1982 in Ostend.

Participated as a second lieutenant with the 5th Regiment Lancers in the Battle of the Silver Helmets in Halen. Received the Knight's Cross in the Order of Leopold on November 13, 1914 for his boldness and initiative during a reconnaissance in Aalst and for his bravery in defending a bridge under heavy enemy artillery fire. Fought on the Yser Front, became Artillery Officer at the end of 1916 and mutated to the Military Aviation on November 25, 1917. He was part of the 6th reconnaissance squadron until the end of WWI, during 41 war flights, as an observer-photographer. Its 8 front stripes and the 1914-1918 war cross with 3 palms bear witness to his actions during WWI.

In 1920 Gaston became a teacher at the Center d'Instruction des Sous-Lieutenants Auxiliaires de Cavalerie (CISLAC). In 1924 and 1928 participated individually and as a team in the Summer Olympics in the jumping category.

As commander of the 2nd Group of the 2nd Regiment Gidsen, Major Mesmaekers fought with his men during the Eighteen Day Campaign. Once released from prison, he joined the Belgian Legion (later the Secret Army) in September 1940. He regrouped the cavalry regiments and exercised an increasingly important role in the resistance. Provided important military intelligence directly to Colonel Daumerie in the first year of the occupation and organized a shelter.
Despite life-threatening risks and difficult circumstances, Gaston held the position of Commander of Zone II, province Antwerp-Limburg from January 1944 until the liberation.
. For this he was awarded the British King's Medal for Courage in the Cause of Freedom and the US Medal of Freedom. France awarded him the Medaille Commémorative Française de la Guerre 1939-1945 with a bar of France. Belgium made him Commander of the Order of Leopold with palm and he also received the Medal of the Resistance.

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  • Text: Michel Mesmaekers & Jhonny Bastiaensen
  • Photos: Jhonny Bastiaensen (1, 3), Michel Mesmaekers (2, 4), Jacques Boone (5), (6, 7, 8)

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