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Remembered Today:

Time difference between UK, Belgium and France


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I am going over to Belgium next week to pay my respects to my grandfather JH McDade who got shot [ but survived] attacking Westhoek on the 10th August with the 9th Loyal North Lancs, it says in the 74th brigade war diary that they went over the top [ or more likely through the mud] at 4.25am, this seems very early as I have checked the sunrise and it only comes up after 6am, would this attack have been in the dark or is the time now not the same as it was in 1917,e.g., is there any summer time changes in Belguim now compared to then.[ Or did we only use BST?].

I mention this, as I plan to be in the exact spot in Jaffa drive trench where he would have been [along with my Belgium host who owns the land where the trench used to pass through] at the exact time the attack began and the sunrise issue is creating some doubt as to the exact time.

 

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Hello Leylandlad

 

During the Great War, and until the Second World War and the German occupation, French and Belgian time was the same as British time, with German time one hour ahead. France and Belgium now use the same times as Germany, one hour ahead of British time whether GMT or BST.

 

From 1916 onwards all these countries adopted Summer Time one hour ahead, but not always on the same dates. But they would all have been on Summer Time on 10 August.

 

In short, you need to be there at 5.25am Belgian summer time.

 

Ron

 

 

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Ron, if my memory serves me correct occupied France was forced to adopt German time in 1914. There are frequent references in contemporary documents to 'l'heure allemande' to distinguish it from French time. And since France did not adopt Summer Time (until when?), whilst Germany did, this lead to a two-hour difference between the two countries during the summer months.

 

To digress a little, curfews were regualated with reference to the time in Berlin which meant that work on the French harvest had to stop with at least two hours of daylight left. This was not very efficient. We 

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Hello Hedley

 

You are probably right in that occupied France (and presumably Belgium as well) had to adopt German time. The information in my previous post was derived from the introductions to Volume I of each of the yearly Official History volumes for 1916, 1917 and 1918. Any differences of two hours would only have applied at the beginning and end of Summer Time, and of relatively few days' duration, rather than throughout the summer.

 

Ron

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When the Germans arrived in Longuyon (south of Longwy), they demanded hostages for good behaviour of the citizens. They had to be handed over by 12 noon. The German commander wnet ballistic when not a single hostage showed up, and was threatening to shoot the entire town.

Then one of his subordinates pointed out that his watch was on German time, and the French town was, naturally, using French time.

Edited by healdav
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