OLt - SLt
Antoine Marie Joseph Hubert Corneille Leytens

Information about birth

Date of birth:
07/01/1896
Place of birth:
Antwerpen, Antwerp Province, Belgium

General information

last known residence:
Schaarbeek, Brussels, Belgium
Religion:
Roman Catholic

Army information

Country:
Belgium
Force:
Belgian Army
Rank:
Sub-Lieutenant
Service number:
O/8089
Units:
 —  I/4de Regiment Karabiniers - I/4ème Régiment de Carabiniers  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
28/09/1918
Place of death:
Passchendaele, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)
Age:
22

Cemetery or memorial

There is no known cemetery or memorial for this soldier.

Points of interest 3

#1 Place of birth
#2 Last known residence
#3 ‘Place of death’

My story

Antoine Leytens, a Sub-Lieutenant with the 1st Battalion, 4th Regiment Carabiniers, is killed on 28 September 1918, the first day of the Final Offensive. He is only 22 years old at the time. Despite his young age, Antoine had been under arms for four years.

He is wounded for the first time in October 1914 during the Battle of the Yser, in the counterattack on Tervate. After his recovery he is promoted to non-commissioned officer. In July 1918, Antoine is commended in the Daily Orders. After his commanding officer is wounded during a raid near St. George, Antoine takes command of the patrol. His action doesn’t go unnoticed. And on 22 September 1918, on the eve of the Final Offensive, Antoine is promoted to the rank of Sub-Lieutenant.

In the middle of the night of 27 to 28 September the horizon lights up between Ypres and Diksmuide. Thousands of guns open fire on the German positions. The noise is oppressive. The waiting unbearable. At 5.30 am the signal sounds for the attack. In the pouring rain the attackers leave their positions, while the defenders prepare for the confrontation.

The 4th Carabiniers, together with the 1st and 2nd Grenadiers operate on the southern flank of the Belgian Army. Their objective; the formidable heights at Passchendaele. In front of them are the boys of the 12. Königlich Bayerische Division. The first three German lines fall fast. The positions are little fortified, thinly manned and were heavily bombarded.

By noon, the Belgian infantry have reached the ridge. Here they take a breather. The break is to allow the artillery to come up. The infantry has time to catch their breath. But the Germans also take advantage of the respite and reorganise themselves. When the attack resumes, the Belgians meet renewed resistance.

Nevertheless, the 4th Carabiniers and 2nd Grenadiers reach Passchendaele. A sharp counterattack stops the advance of the Grenadiers just west of Passchendaele. By evening, the Belgians have reached the south, west and north flank of Passchendaele, but the Germans still retain control of the village.

It is not until around 18:30 that the 4th Carabiniers manage to enter the ruins of Passchendaele. With hand grenades and bayonets they go from cellar to cellar until they reach the ruin that once was the church of Passchendaele. Yet Westrozebeke and a part of Passchendaele still remain in German hands. Only the next day the Germans retreat and the whole ridge is taken.

Antoine will not live to see the breakthrough. He is killed in action in front of Passchendaele. The young man from Schaarbeek has no known grave. A few days before his death, he wrote his parents one last time, with a heavy heart:

"If I do not come back, it is because I have fallen, perhaps without much pride (today courage counts for little), but with a sense of duty. […] If you receive this letter, it is because it is written that I will never see you again. I beg you to remember me without too much sorrow."

Sources 4

J. Verspreet (red.), Kroniek van de Belgische Regimenten Karabiniers 1830-1992: Deel 2 De Karabiniers tijdens de Grote Oorlog 1914-1918 (Evere, Printing House of Defence, 2003), 155-156.
Sources used
Marcel Weemaes, Van de IJzer tot Brussel: Het Bevrijdingsoffensief van het Belgische Leger 28 september 1918 (Marcinelle, Maison d'Edition, 1972), 80-83.
Sources used
René Lyr, Nos héros morts pour la patrie : l'épopée Belge de 1914 à 1918 (Brussel, Van der Elst, 1920), 90 -93.
Sources used
Tom Simoens, “Het Bevrijdingsoffensief: Het Belgische leger bewijst zijn gevechtswaarde (September-November 1918)” In: Luc De Vos (ed.), 14-18 Oorlog in België. (Leuven, Davidsfonds, 2014), 470.
Sources used