August Thiry – King Albert’s Heroes

This book describes the incredible story of the ACM, the Belgian army’s first unit of armored cars. It covers the unit’s formation in 1915 and its transfer to the Russian Front, where the Belgians fought against Austrian and German troops. It recounts the adventures of the ACM-men in the midst of the Russian Revolution and their odyssey, first along the Trans-Siberian railway through China to Vladivostok, then across the Pacific Ocean to the United States, where King Albert’s heroes are received with tremendous enthusiasm. This amazing story concludes with the unit’s return to France and the subsequent fate of the ACM-veterans.

King Albert’s Heroes is a human interest story with a breathtaking historical background, a worldwide story about Belgians who went to war and made the best of it. One reads about the Thiry brothers who survived against all odds, about a world champion wrestling who attacked like a madman, about counts and barons whose noble blood was spilled, about volunteers who became writer, communist or winner of Olympic gold. A true story told through young men’s eyes and illustrated with color drawings and more than two hundred original photos.

August Thiry (1948) reviewed Russian literature and wrote travelogue stories for Belgian newspapers. He wrote novels and travel books. He published the non-fiction books Mechelen on the Tigris and Travelers through the Great War and was main adviser for the ACM exhibitions in Ukraine, Russia and the USA.

Antwerpen, Benerus, 2018, 306 p., sewn binding, hard cover, illustrations b/w & colour
ISBN 978 90 8167 386 0
25 €
*

Eind 1914.  Vierhonderd jonge Belgen gaan in Parijs aan de slag met pantserauto’s en vormen het ACM, les Autos-Canons-Mitrailleuses. Koning Albert schenkt dat pantserkorps aan Rusland. In Sint-Petersburg paraderen de Belgen voor de tsaar, in 1916 vechten ze aan het front in Oekraïne tegen Duitsers en Oostenrijkers. Dan breekt de revolutie uit in Rusland en de tsaar wordt afgezet. De bolsjewieken grijpen de macht, de Belgen zitten klem in Kiev en moeten hun pantserauto’s opgeven. Voorjaar 1918 sporen ze door Siberië en bereiken China. Na de overtocht over de Stille Oceaan volgt de apotheose. Vierhonderd Belgen defileren als King Albert’s Heroes door Amerika, van San Francisco tot New York. De rest is thuiskomen en omkijken in verwondering. Samen met de schrijver Marcel Thiry, de worstelkampioen Constant le Marin, de communist Julien Lahaut, en vele anderen. Kleine helden in tijden van oorlog en revolutie. August Thiry brengt het volledige ACM-verhaal in het Engelse non ficiton boek King Albert’s Heroes – A Belgian Armored Corps in Russia and the USA (Benerus, september 2018). Tweehonderd pagina’s wereldwijd avontuur, geïllustreerd met honderd extra pagina’s originele foto’s.

CAFARD – de historische achtergrond van de animatiefilm Cafard is gebaseerd op het boek King Albert’s Heroes.