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Gielen Jacobus  

postman at the front lines of WW1 (1914 to 1919)
8 front bars​
my wife's grandfather

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This page is about Jan Gielen, who was my wife’s grandfather.


In 1898, the Belgian Minister of War decided to transform every 4th company of the Regiment Karabiniers into a company of military cyclists equipped with Belgica folding bicycles. These companies were mainly assigned as security, reconnaissance and liaison assignments with cavalry units. In 1911, these companies were merged into a cyclist battalion which, under the command of Major SA Collyns, became the V-th Battalion. On December 1st, 1913, the (fully) independent 1st battalion Carabineers-Cyclists was established. After the Battle of the Silver Helmets during the first months of the war of 1914, the Germans gave them the nickname “Black Devils”.

My wife’s grandfather was a mailman in the World War 1 trenches from 1914 until 1918.

He delivered both messages from home as well as from the command post to the front lines and back and served as a Carabineers-Cyclist. After the war ended, he stayed at the fronts for an extra year to help with the administrative tasks that had to be taken care of. This incredible bravery allowed him to take eight Front Stripes, Injury Stripes, a Cross of War with 2 palms, a Victory Medal, a Commemorative Medal 1914-1918 and a Fire Cross Medal in acceptance.

The examples and explanations of the badges and medals from above, can be found below.


Above, my wife Christel in front of an example of the uniform worn by her grandfather

Above, example of a Carabineer-Cyclist with his bicycle on his back.


Above, the monument of the Carabineer-Cyclists. (Black devil) in the town Halen. 

Because the Carabiniers Cyclists fought so fiercely,

the Germans gave them the nickname Schwarze Teufel (Black devils), which became part of their emblem next to the bicycle wheel.

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Above, pliable bicycle of the Carabineer-Cyclist.

Medals and awards presented to Gielen Jan.


Front Stripes


This award of front stripes that are worn as an insignia on the uniform:

The front stripes were introduced by the Royal Decree. of 24/06/1916.

A first line was received after 18 months of front service and the next line after an additional period of 6 months each.

At the KB. from 20/01/1917 the first line was awarded after 12 months of front service.

On 1/02/1919 the last front line (the 8th) was awarded to all soldiers who had participated throughout the period 1914-1918.

8 stripes was the maximum.


Injury Stripes


Injury stripes were awarded to those who got injured.

My wife’s grandfather got a piece of a grenade in his head.


Cross of War with 2 palms


The Croix de guerre (French) or Oorlogskruis (Dutch), both literally translating as "Cross of War", is a military decoration of the Kingdom of Belgium established by royal decree on 25 October 1915.[1] It was primarily awarded for bravery or other military virtue on the battlefield. The award was reestablished on 20 July 1940 by the Belgian government in exile for recognition of bravery and military virtue during World War II.[2] The post-1940 decoration could also be awarded to units that were cited.


Victory Medal


The Victory Medal is the Belgian variant of the Inter-Allied Victory Medal 1914–1918 (French: "Médaille de la Victoire 1914–1918, Dutch: "Zegemedaille 1914–1918") was a Belgian commemorative war medal established by royal decree on 15 July 1919 and awarded to all members of the Belgian Armed Forces who served during the First World War.


Commemorative Medal


The Commemorative Medal of the 1914–1918 War (French: Médaille Commémorative de la Guerre 1914–1918, Dutch: Oorlogsherinnerinsmedaille 1914–1918) was a Belgian commemorative war medal established by royal decree on 21 July 1919 and awarded to all members of the Belgian Armed Forces who served during the First World War that were eligible for the inter-allied victory medal.[1


Fire Cross Medal


The 1914 – 1918 Fire Cross (Dutch: Vuurkruis 1914–1918, French: Croix du Feu 1914–1918) was a Belgian military decoration awarded to all holders of the so-called "Fire Card" which was awarded to all who came under fire at the front during the First World War. The medal was established by royal decree on 6 February 1934. It could not be awarded posthumously.[1]

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