INDEXING THE GULDENBOEK DER VUURKAART

 

What is the “Guldenboek der Vuurkaart”? (“Golden Book of the Firecard”)

The “Guldenboek” was published during the 30’s, with the last edition published in 1940, by publisher J. Rozez in Brussels.  It contains names and pictures of veterans that were in possession of the “Fire Card” (Vuurkaart).  The person that wanted to be mentioned in the book had to fill out a form on which he, among other things, had to declare which decorations he had received.   With that same form he could also order the book.  To control the supplied information, house calls were made at which time the necessary evidence had to be shown.  Part of the receipts for the book went to the “Fonds der Grootse verminkten en invallieden” (Fund for relief of the maimed and handicapped)


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The Form.  (Please click on the picture to enlarge the view)

You will not find names of soldiers killed in action in these books, a few exceptions notwithstanding.  One of these exceptions was Captain Vermeire.  He was killed at Klerken September 28th, 1918 (with thanks to André De Clercq for the information)

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 (Click on the picture to enlarge the view)

 

On paying cash the book cost 295 BEF.  When paying with an advance of 100 BEF the total amount was 310 BEF.  One could also pay by way of monthly instalments but then the total amount was 325 BEF.  (Click on the invoices to see an enlarged version)


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The book exists in a number of different editions.  There were 8 Dutch-language versions and 8 French-language versions, with a number of additions.  The following editions were published: 1933-1934, 1934-1935, 1935-1936, 1936-1937, 1937, 1937-1938, 1938-1939, and 1940.  The edition 1940 is not a separate edition but a copy of a previous edition. The Dutch-language versions, with exception of the description of the regiments, were identical, to the French-language versions.  On the front page of each book there is an example of a “Fire Card” (Vuurkaart) Each veteran that ordered the book received a personalised version with a copy of  “his” own “Fire Card” (Vuurkaart) on the front page.  Our team member Ludo informed us also that the holders of the “Fire Card” (Vuurkaart) could claim a number of benefits.  They got discounts of 75% on public transportation in Belgium (train, bus and tramway).They also had the right to free medical examination with a number of assigned doctors and got a substantial discount on prescribed medications (or even for free).  For this purpose, special forms existed which had to be brought to the doctor.  The frontstripes gave right to an interest (starting at the age of 45) which was paid tri-monthly by way of a “postassignatie”, the amount of which obviously depended on the number of “frontstripes”. 

Beneath are a couple of examples of  “Vuurkaarten”. (Fire Cards) (Please click on the pictures for the enlarged view)

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The book also contained a brochure with information concerning the “frontstripes” (frontstrepen), the decorations, and guidelines to obtain a disability pension. You must have installed Acrobat reader to read the brochure. 
The brochure can be found here.

Which information can be found in the books?

*The names of the veterans, sometimes with a picture, the place of residence, rank and military decorations of the veterans is available.  It is certain that not all veterans were included in the books.

 



The symbols under the pictures represent the decorations the veteran had received.  “P” stands for a decoration with Palm.  “Front Str” (frontstrepen) and “Kw Str” (kwetsuurstrepen) stand for “frontstripes” and “wound stripes”.  In French it is “Ch Fr”  and “Ch Bl” (Click here for an explanatory list of the symbols used.)

 

An example of a veteran, who certainly qualified to be in the book, is Cyril Van BosscheCyril was born in Hamme, July 9th, 1893 and passed away there at the blessed age of 90   He DAILY visited the graves of his fallen comrades on the Hamme cemetery, be it rain or shine.  Just like Cyril, many names of veterans are not commemorated in the “Guldenboek”.

Do you know a story about, or have pictures or information concerning, a soldier that served during WWI?  (It is not a prerequisite that he's mentioned in the Guldenboek)  We make sure he gets an honourable place on the internet.  All you need to do is send us the information and we take care of the rest.  You can see the results here.
 


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                                                                                   (Click on the images for a larger picture)

*Regimental histories

In each of the 8 editions of the “Guldenboek der Vuurkaart” the history of the regiments that took part in the battles during WWI, has been written.  Frederik Geeroms took the initiative to make this valuable information digitally available sticking to the original texts. The regiments are in the same order in which they appear in the books.
(Click here to read the regimental histories)

 

“Vuurkruisenbond” (Firecross Organisation)


On April 22nd, 1954 a new Belgian government was formed.  The new government was lead by Achiel Van Acker and was a liberal-socialist coalition.  The “Vuurkruisenbond” immediately took it upon themselves to voice their concerns to the brand-new government.  They wrote a report that addressed, among other things, the “frontstripes”, pensions, medical care and certain abuses.  Thanks to André De Clercq for making the report available to us.

 

(Click on the pages for an enlarged view)

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P1 P2 P3 P4 P5
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P6 P7 P8 P9 P10
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P11 P12 P13 P14 P15
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P16 P17 P18 P19

 

What does the indexation of the different “Guldenboeken”  entail?

The importance of this project doesn’t need emphasising.  By way of an alphabetical list, one can search for the family names of the veterans contained in the books.  The list contains columns with family name, first name, residence, edition, page, rank and regiment.  There is also a column with the indication if there is a picture of that particular soldier in the book.  The complete list also contains the decorations the soldiers obtained.  Due to the size of the information it is not possible to publish the complete list on the Internet.

The project was started in April 2006 and completed in 2009.  The theme members are: Ludo De Herdt, Roel Struyve, Dirk Van Hoef(www.ars-moriendi.be), Andre Darquennes, Etienne Suy, Thomas De Groote, V.V.F.Merksem and Marc Verlinden.

A word of thank also to Willy Mees, John Paessens and Patrick Praats.  Without their help this project would not have gotten of the ground.  A special thank you also goes to Yvonne Heslinga, founder of the First World War forum, and to all the members of the forum that are always ready for a professional answer.  You can find the forum here: Forum Eerste Wereldoorlog.

The local history organisation  "Ramscapple aan den Yser" should be especially mentioned for the information and the aid they provided for this project.
 

Where can you check the list?

The list is in PDF format.  To view this type of file you will need to install the free program, Acrobat Reader

You can check the list in three ways:
Alphabetically ordered by family name
Alphabetically ordered by place of residence

Alphabetically ordered by regiment

Once you've checked the list you can consult the books online: Goldenbooks online

If you encounter any mistakes, please let me know: marc.verlinden@gmail.com

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