May 16, 1940 Belgium. (notice the date of this report)
At 2325hrs shots are heard at Battalion HQ coming from the direction of the canal.
At 2350hrs "A" Company reported three casualties, owing to a misunderstanding between British and Belgian troops. Some Belgian soldiers opened fire after a British sentry failed to reply to their challenge.
The head of a Belgian column, who were crossing a bridge and challenged "A" Company sentry who was posted near a large tree about five yards away. The sentry appears not to have understood what was being asked of him and failed to answer. The Belgian who challenged him thought he might be a German Paratrooper and challenged him again. Again failing to get an answer from the sentry the Belgian soldier opened fire on him and shot him through the head. Seeing their sentry fall, a section from 7 Platoon, "A" Company who were at their posts around 50 yards away thought he had been shot by enemy troops and opened fire on the Belgians with their Bren Gun. Around 30 rounds were exchanged with each other before they realised who they were firing at. During this incident "A" Company received a further two casualties (3651826 H.H. Coulburn and 3650251 C. Walsh). One was shot in the stomach and fell into the canal (Walsh) and was reported as missing. The other was wounded in his left hand (Coulburn). The two casualties were taken to the RAP by company transport.
At 0010 hrs on the 17th May the Belgian soldier who had challenged "A" Company sentry was taken to see the C.O. of the Battalion. He told the Commanding Officer that he had challenged the sentry in French, Flemish and English and receiving no reply, assumed he wasn't French or English.
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