Who's Who - Cyriaque Gillain

Cyriaque Cyprien Gillain (1857-1931) was Belgian Army Chief of Staff in the final six months of the First World War.

Gillain entered the Belgian Army in 1875 not via a commission but as a private soldier.  He nevertheless attended the Belgian Military Academy three years later and belatedly received a commission two years after that, into the cavalry.

Following service in Belgian Congo Gillain was appointed Colonel of the 4th Lancers in 1913.  It was while he was with the lancers that war broke out in Europe in August 1914 with the consequence that Belgium was promptly invaded by Germany following the weakest of pretexts.

Gillain was handed command of 1st Cavalry Brigade two months into the war, with whom he fought during the Battle of the Yser.  The following year he received a promotion to Major-General and another to Lieutenant-General in 1917, the latter with command of 5th Division.

In April 1918 Gillain was appointed Belgian Army Chief of Staff and led his forces to victory in the Battle of Thourout-Thielt in October, an action crucial in expunging the Belgian coast of the German occupation force.

Stormtroopers comprised specially trained German assault troops used in 1918.

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