Force Publique

A colonial militaryBelgian colonial forcesBelgo-Congolese forcesCongo National ArmyPublic Force (Congo)
The Force Publique (, "Public Force"; Openbare Weermacht) was a gendarmerie and military force in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1885 (when the territory was known as the Congo Free State), through the period of Belgian colonial rule (Belgian Congo – 1908 to 1960).wikipedia
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Democratic Republic of the Congo

Democratic Republic of CongoCongoDR Congo
The Force Publique (, "Public Force"; Openbare Weermacht) was a gendarmerie and military force in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1885 (when the territory was known as the Congo Free State), through the period of Belgian colonial rule (Belgian Congo – 1908 to 1960).
During the Free State, his colonial military unit, the Force Publique, forced the local population to produce rubber.

Leopold II of Belgium

Leopold IIKing Leopold IILéopold II, King of the Belgians
The Force Publique was initially conceived in 1885 when King Leopold II of the Belgians, who held the Congo Free State as his private property, ordered his Secretary of the Interior to create military and police forces for the State.
Leopold ignored these conditions and ran the Congo using the mercenary Force Publique for his personal gain.

Belgian Congo

CongoBelgian colonial ruleCongolese
The Force Publique (, "Public Force"; Openbare Weermacht) was a gendarmerie and military force in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1885 (when the territory was known as the Congo Free State), through the period of Belgian colonial rule (Belgian Congo – 1908 to 1960).
Leopold's Force Publique, a private army that terrorized natives to work as forced labour for resource extraction, disrupted their societies and killed and abused natives indiscriminately.

Congo–Arab War

Congo Arab war1892-1894 war in the Eastern Congo1892–1894 Congo–Arab War
In the 1890s, the Force Publique defeated the African and Arab slavers in the course of the Congo Arab war (1892–1894), which resulted in tens of thousands of casualties.
The war ended in January 1894 with a victory of Leopold's Force Publique.

Charles Tombeur

Charles-Henri TombeurLieutenant General Charles Baron Tombeur de Tabora
The allied powers, the British Empire and Belgium launched a coordinated attack on the German colony, by 1916 the Belgian commander of the Force Publique, Lieutenant-General Charles Tombeur, had assembled an army of 15,000 men supported by local bearers and advanced to Kigali.
As well as holding several major administrative positions in the Belgian Congo, he is particularly known for his role as commander of the Belgian colonial military, the Force Publique, during the first years of World War I.

Congo Free State

CongoCongoleseHeads of state of the Congo Free State
The Force Publique (, "Public Force"; Openbare Weermacht) was a gendarmerie and military force in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1885 (when the territory was known as the Congo Free State), through the period of Belgian colonial rule (Belgian Congo – 1908 to 1960).
The Force Publique (FP), Leopold's private army, was used to enforce the rubber quotas.

East African campaign (World War II)

East African CampaignEast AfricaEast Africa Campaign
It provided detachments to fight Italian forces during the East Africa Campaign and serve as garrisons in West Africa and the Middle East.
These were joined by the Force Publique from Belgian Congo, Imperial Ethiopian resistance movements and a small unit of Free French.

East African campaign (World War I)

East African CampaignEast AfricaEast Africa Campaign
During World War I (1914–18) an expanded Force Publique served against German colonial forces in the Camerouns and German East Africa (Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi), as part of the East African Campaign.
The Force Publique was constrained to adopt a defensive strategy until 15 August 1914, when German ships on Lake Tanganyika bombarded the port of Mokolobu and then the Lukuga post a week later.

Siege of Saïo

cut offparticipationSaïo
Their retreat cut off, the Italian troops surrendered to General Auguste-Édouard Gilliaert on 7 July 1941 including nine generals, among them Generals Pietro Gazzera and Count Arconovaldo Bonaccorsi, 370 officers, and 2,574 noncoms and 1,533 native soldiers.
In the first months of 1941, British and Belgian colonial forces attacked Italian East Africa from the colony of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan.

Fez

fezzesfez hattarboosh
The uniforms of the old Free State remained in use among the Force Publique until World War I: Belgian officers wore white uniforms until late 1914, while the blue uniform (with red trim around the neck and down the front opening), red fez and sash of the askaris was phased out in a series of changes during 1915–1917.
The Belgian Force Publique in the Congo wore large and floppy red fezzes similar to those of the French Tirailleurs Senegalais and the Portuguese Companhias Indigenas.

Battle of Tabora

capture of Taboracapture the town of Taboraheavy fighting
At the time of the Battle of Tabora in September 1916 about 25,000 men were under arms, during the war their actions were supported by more than 260,000 local bearers.
Within the framework of the neutral Belgian Congo, the Force Publique could only adopt a defensive position.

Lake Force

British force
The Force Publique and the British Lake Force then started a thrust to capture Tabora, an administrative centre of central German East Africa.
In May 1916, Lake Force sent 5,000 porters and 100 oxwagons to serve with their allies, the Force publique of the Belgian Congo under Charles Tombeur.

Lubumbashi

ÉlisabethvilleElisabethvilleElizabethville
In 1945 the FP mobile units consisted of six battalions of infantry (the V battalion at Stanleyville, the VI battalion at Watsa, the VIII battalion at Luluabourg, the XI battalion at Rumangabo, the XII battalion at Elizabethville, and the XIII battalion at Léopoldville), three reconnaissance units, military police units, a brigade under training at Camp Hardy, still under construction at Thysville, four coastal defence guns, and a small aviation element including two De Havilland DH.104 Doves.
In early 1944, the city was again in the grip of severe tensions and fear of violent protests, following a mutiny of the Force Publique (army) in Luluabourg.

Allies of World War I

AlliesAlliedAllied Powers
The allied powers, the British Empire and Belgium launched a coordinated attack on the German colony, by 1916 the Belgian commander of the Force Publique, Lieutenant-General Charles Tombeur, had assembled an army of 15,000 men supported by local bearers and advanced to Kigali.

Paul Ermens

Paul-Charles Ermens (June 8, 1884 – November 1, 1957) was a senior Force Publique officer, Vice-governor general of the Belgian Congo and Commander of the Force Publique.

Émile Janssens

Lieutenant General Émile Janssens' intention may only have been to stress the need for continued discipline and obedience to orders but the impact on the soldiers, unsettled by the demands of maintaining order during Independence celebrations and fearful that they would be excluded from the benefits of the new freedom, was disastrous.
Émile Robert Alphonse Hippolyte Janssens (1902-1989) was a Belgian military officer and colonial official, best known for his command of the Force Publique at the start of the Congo Crisis.

Watsa

In 1945 the FP mobile units consisted of six battalions of infantry (the V battalion at Stanleyville, the VI battalion at Watsa, the VIII battalion at Luluabourg, the XI battalion at Rumangabo, the XII battalion at Elizabethville, and the XIII battalion at Léopoldville), three reconnaissance units, military police units, a brigade under training at Camp Hardy, still under construction at Thysville, four coastal defence guns, and a small aviation element including two De Havilland DH.104 Doves.
Watsa was the location of the VI battalion of the Force Publique in the 1940s and 1950s.

1960 Force Publique mutiny

mutinieda mutinya military mutiny by Congolese soldiers against their European officers
On 5 July 1960, five days after the country gained independence from Belgium, the Force Publique garrison in Léopoldville mutinied against its white officers (who had remained in complete command) and attacked numerous European and Congolese targets.
On 5 July 1960, soldiers of the garrisons of Léopoldville and Thysville of the Force Publique, the army of the newly independent Democratic Republic of the Congo (then Republic of the Congo) mutinied against their white officers.

De Havilland Leopard Moth

Leopard Mothde Havilland DH.85 Leopard MothDH.85 Leopard Moth
The first machine purchased for the force was a de Havilland DH.85 Leopard Moth that entered service on 9 October 1940.

Auguste Gilliaert

Auguste-Eduard GilliaertAuguste-Édouard GilliaertAuguste-Éduard Gilliaert
Their retreat cut off, the Italian troops surrendered to General Auguste-Édouard Gilliaert on 7 July 1941 including nine generals, among them Generals Pietro Gazzera and Count Arconovaldo Bonaccorsi, 370 officers, and 2,574 noncoms and 1,533 native soldiers.
Lieutenant General Auguste Gilliaert (Sint-Pieters-op-den-Dijk, 7 March 1894 - 10 May 1973) was a Belgian colonial soldier who served in both world wars, and a commander of the Force Publique in the Belgian Congo.

N'Dolo Airport

Ndolo AirportAérodrome de N'DoloKinshasa-N'Dolo Airport
At the end of 1940 the FP headquarters, recognising the need for aviation support for the force, began forming the Aviation militaire de la Force Publique equipped with requisitioned civilian machines and based at N'Dolo Airport in Leopoldville.
The Aviation militaire de la Force Publique was established here in October 1940 with requisitioned aircraft.

Fort de Shinkakasa

In addition there was the Compagnie d'Artillerie et de Génie (Artillery and Engineers Company) manning Fort de Shinkakasa at the mouth of the Congo River in Boma.
About two hundred soldiers of the Free State Force Publique occupied the fort, they manned the fort's eight 160-mm ship guns.

Alexandre Delcommune

Delcommune Expedition
Alexandre Delcommune, or del Commune, (6 October 1855 – 7 August 1922) was a Belgian officer of the armed Force Publique of the Congo Free State who undertook extensive explorations of the country during the early colonial period of the Congo Free State.

Kristian Løken

Kristian Rikardsen Løken (31 July 1884 – March 1961) was a highly decorated Norwegian military officer who served in the Belgian Force Publique from 1907 to 1917, fighting German colonial forces in East Africa from 1914 to 1917, and went on to command a Norwegian Army infantry brigade during the 1940 Norwegian Campaign of the Second World War.

Mahenge Offensive

MahengeBattle of Mahenge
After the Mahenge Offensive and the capture of Mahenge in 1917, the Belgian Congolese army controlled roughly one-third of German East Africa.