After the capitulation of Belgium on 28 May 1940 the military officer Jean-Baptiste Piron was internated. He escaped and in April 1941 he succeeded in reaching England. There he joined the Belgian army in reconstruction in January 1942. Almost a year later Piron was called to London by the Belgian Prime Minister in exile Hubert Pierlot. In London he wasinformed about the definitive plans for the reorganization of the Belgian Ground Forces. Piron was appointed commander and soon thereafter lieutenant-colonel of the 1st Belgian Infantry Brigade, a new Belgian unit. The unit consisted of 2,500 soldiers and was trained in Wales. This unit, also known as the Piron Brigade (Brigade Piron), was created in January 1943. In spring 1944, 2,200 soldiers of the Piron Brigade were ready for the fight on the continent.
On 8 August 1944 they landed in Arromanches, on the Normandy coast. They actively participated in the Battle of Normandy, for instance in Operation Paddle, that aimed at precipitating the fall of the Germans armies in the direction of the Seine. The Brigade moved further up to the north and on 3 September 1944 Piron and his men crossed the French-Belgian border. Only one day later they liberated Brussels. After that, they participated in the liberation of the Netherlands.
Piron continued his military career as commander of the Belgian occupying army in Germany. In 1947 he was promoted to Lieutenant-General of the Belgian army. He finished his career, from 1951 to 1957, as chief of staff and aide-de-camp to King Baudouin.