May 28, 1940 – The Battle of Belgium formed part of the greater Battle of France, an offensive campaign by Germany during the Second World War. It took place over 18 days in May 1940 and ended with the German occupation of Belgium following the surrender of the Belgian Army. On 10 May 1940, Germany’s armed forces, the Wehrmacht, invaded Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Belgium under the operational plan Fall Gelb (Case Yellow). The Allied Armies attempted to halt the German Army in Belgium, believing it to be the main German thrust. After the French had fully committed the best of the Allied Armies to Belgium between 10 and 12 May, the Germans enacted the second phase of their operation, a break-through, or sickle cut, through the Ardennes, and advanced towards the English Channel. The German Army (Heer) reached the Channel after five days, encircling the Allied Armies. The Germans gradually reduced the pocket of Allied forces, forcing them back to the sea. The Belgian Army surrendered on 28 May 1940, ending the battle. The Battle of Belgium included the first tank battle of the war, the Battle of Hannut. It was the largest tank battle in history up to that date but was later surpassed by the battles of the North African campaign and the Eastern Front. The battle also included the Battle of Fort Eben-Emael, the first strategic airborne operation using paratroopers. The German official history stated that in the 18 days of bitter fighting, the Belgian Army were tough opponents, and spoke of the “extraordinary bravery” of its soldiers. The Belgian collapse forced the Allied withdrawal from continental Europe. The British Royal Navy subsequently evacuated Belgian ports during Operation Dynamo, allowing the British Army to escape and continue military operations. Belgium was occupied by the Germans until the winter of 1944–1945, when it was liberated by the Western Alliance.