The first airfield at Chievres was established during World War I. The Germans flew biplanes from a single grass runway. Re-built by the Germans in 1940, the airfield was called air base 404. The Italian Air Force stationed bombers at Chievres in 1940. This led the Belgian Government to declare war on Italy. Luftwaffe bombers used air base 404 to attack targets in England. Airplanes from Chievres attacked the allies in Normandy during the allied invasion of Europe that began on 6 June 1944. Chievres airfield was bombed over 30 times during the war. The occupying forces withdrew in 1944, and from October 1944, the allied forces used Chievres as a base from which to attack the retreating Germans and to bomb positions in the Ardennes during the Battle of the Bulge. Since 1968, Chievres Air Base has been under the care of the NATO/SHAPE Support Group now known as 80th Area Support Group (NSSG). Air operations are conducted by the United States Air Force. The air base has a post exchange, library, commissary, pet kennel and coin-operated laundry.
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), home to 16 allied nations in support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). SHAPE is the highest military headquarters within Allied Command Europe (ACE). SHAPE is located about 45 miles (60 kilometers) southwest of Brussels (capital of Belgium) and has been given municipal status by the Belgian Government. It is only two hours from Paris, France and Luxembourg. SHAPE is led by the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (SACEUR), a four-star general. The international staff at SHAPE and the subordinate military headquarters plan and coordinate the deployment of the NATO's military forces in ACE. SHAPE is comprised of 16 nations working side-by-side, ensuring mission readiness for NATO.
SHAPE was originally located in Fountaineblau, France, 20 miles outside of Paris. In 1967 it moved from France to its present location. Before SHAPE was installed at its present location, the name for this site was "Captain Moreau Barracks" at CASTEAU. It was acquired by the Belgian war office in 1825. The buildings in what is known as the industrial area housed the horse-drawn field artillery from about 1880 until after World War I. Several of the buildings still have the iron rings to which the horses were hitched. While being used as an artillery range, the guns were placed at the end of the strip of land running out to the west gate. When the guns were fired, the shells landed in the area now covered by the shopping center, sports fields, and schools. On the site now occupied by the Main Building was a grass air field. An aircraft hanger and club house sat where the flags are now located in the main entrance. In 1940 the 200 area was used as a prisoner of war camp by the Germans; as the war ended, it was the German troops who were imprisoned at CASTEAU.
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