Battle of Halen

Battle of Haelen
Part of the Battle of the Frontiers in World War I
Slag van Halen.jpg
Contemporary postcard depicting the "failure of the German cavalry" at Halen.
Date12 August 1914
LocationHalen (Haelen), Limburg, Belgium
50°57′N 05°06′E / 50°57′N 05°06′E / 50.950; 5.100
ResultBelgian victory
 Belgium Germany
Commanders and leaders
Belgium Léon de Witte
Belgium Adolf Proost
German Empire Georg von der Marwitz
5 regiments
2,400 cavalry
450 infantry cyclists
6 regiments
4,000 cavalry
2,000 infantry
Casualties and losses
160 killed
320 wounded
150 killed
600 wounded
300 captured
Haelen is located in Belgium

The Battle of Halen (also Haelen or the Battle of the Silver Helmets, Dutch: Slag der Zilveren Helmen, French: Bataille des casques d'argent, because of the many cavalry helmets left behind on the battlefield by the German cuirassiers)[a] took place on 12 August 1914 at the beginning of the First World War and was a cavalry encounter between German forces led by Georg von der Marwitz and Belgian troops led by Léon de Witte.[b] In 1914, Halen was a small market town and a convenient river crossing of the Gete River; the town was also on the principal axis of advance of the Imperial German army. The battle was a tactical victory for the Belgians but did little to delay the German invasion of Belgium.


On 3 August the Belgian government refused a German ultimatum and the British government guaranteed military support to Belgium if Germany invaded. Germany declared war on France, the British government ordered general mobilisation and Italy declared neutrality. On 4 August, the British government sent an ultimatum to Germany and declared war on Germany at midnight on 4/5 August, Central European time. Belgium severed diplomatic relations with Germany and Germany declared war on Belgium. German troops crossed the Belgian frontier and attacked Liège.[1] A week after the German invasion, German cavalry had been operating towards Hasselt and Diest, which threatened the left flank of the army on the Gete. Belgian general headquarters chose Halen as a place to delay the advance and make time to complete an orderly retreat to the west. The Belgian Cavalry Division was sent from Sint-Truiden to Budingen and Halen, to extend the Belgian left flank.[2]

Other Languages
العربية: معركة هالن
беларуская: Бітва пад Халенам
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Бітва пад Халенам
brezhoneg: Emgann Halen
עברית: קרב האלן
norsk nynorsk: Slaget ved Haelen
português: Batalha de Halen
Tiếng Việt: Trận Haelen