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HERITAGE PLUS

FOREIGN WORKERS IN UK

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HERITAGE PLUS

My PC is showing no text to this post. Is it just me?

Dave

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Cnock

Sorry, lost my text.

Will try again;

Cnock

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Cnock

My grand-parents Alfons and Julia Billiau fled to Holland, like so many others, when Belgium was invaded in 1914 by the Germans.

They first lived with 2 babies and Julia's mother at Aardenburg, a small Dutch town with 2000 inhabitans and 2036 refugees.

My grandfather used to return to occupied Belgium, to see his mother.

When the Germans posted sentries at the border, Alfons was nearly trapped .

He approached the border, pretending being at work on the field, and when the snentries were at distance, he jumped for the recrossing of the border, some bullets flying high above his head.

Because they had no income, they had to go to the refugee camp at Ede.

More than 15.000 Belgian refugees were then housed in camps at Ede.

Life was not easy, when one of the childern got very ill, it was immediately removed from Julia.

Because there was no work and not enough food they decided to go to England.

Cnock

In attachment , foto of the refugee camp

post-7723-1124197320.jpg

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Cnock

In late 1915, Alfons and Julia went to England,with a Dutch steamer.

The voyage took 2 days, and was hazardous, the engines were stopped several times. There were floating mines and U-Boats.

The Geman destroyers of the Zeebrugge Flotilla also used to stop Dutch vessels, to inspect the cargo, and see that there were no British or French escaped prisoners aboard, or Belgian volunteers for the army.

When arrived in London, my grand-parents rent a small room at Fulham or Richmond.

Julia found work in a factory where canvas tents for the army in Egypt were produced. She was paid pro tent she made.

Alfons, was exempted of military service, he had work at an arms factory.

The money they could save was sent to the refugee camp, where the children were still with their grandmother.

In att. collar insignia worn by Alfons

Cnock

post-7723-1124197874.jpg

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Cnock

Armbands worn by Alfons in the factory.

post-7723-1124197936.jpg

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Cnock

Later, Julia and Alfons went working in the same factory, Pelabong Works at Twickenham.

Alfons, was employed as a turner, and made artillery shells.

Julia assembled primers for artillery cases.

post-7723-1124198082.jpg

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Cnock

They worked in shifts of 12 hrs, day and night.

Julia told about the yellow skinned female workers ' the canaries', that worked in a seperate plant were explosives were produced.

Cnock

In att. Julia, far right assembling fuzes.

post-7723-1124198289.jpg

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Cnock

Another picture of Julia, standfig second from the right.

Cnock

post-7723-1124198354.jpg

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Cnock

Julia, when she could, used to collect her husband when he had finished with work, as there were always solitary women at the gate of the factory, waiting for a date.

Julia said that several women in the factory had venereal diseases.

In att. lady friends of Julia at the Pelabon factory.

post-7723-1124198632.jpg

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Cnock

Julia and Alfons had brothers fighting at the front.

When on leave, they preferred to come to London, where these pictures were taken at Curzon Studios, Richmond, and at Bayleys Studios.

Cnock

post-7723-1124198827.jpg

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Cnock

Julia remembered that on a certain Christmas eve , she was passing Victoria Station, on her way to her work.

She witnessed young British soldiers being beaten up with truncheons. by military police. She was very set up by this, because she had also brothers at the front.

She tought that the soldiers didn't want to go to the front (which I doubt)

In att. picture sent by Julia's brother Henry to England, when he had received his new uniform. British flags are placed in the rifle muzzles

post-7723-1124199245.jpg

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Cnock

Julia and Alfons never forgot the Zeppelin and bomber attacks, as they worked in an arms factory, they feared to be the target.

When an attack was under way, all lights went out in the factory.

Alfons and Julia returned to Belgium, late 1918.

Alfons went to work near Armentieres (northern France) to reconstruct houses. Dead soldiesr were still lying on the fields, only their head covered with earth.

During WWII Alfons was forced to work for the Germans.

In att. pictures I cannot place.

post-7723-1124199582.jpg

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Bob Coulson

Cnock,

Great pictures and family story.

The one above that you can't connect seems to have Section ? White City which would suggest again a London connection.

Bob.

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Cnock

Thank You Bob,

Greetings,

Cnock

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spike10764

Great photos Cnock,

And what a story- thanks for sharing them with us all

The bottom one looks like some sort of Victory parade, could it be on or not long after the Armistice?

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Piscator

Great photo's, you must be proud of having a collection of family photo's like that. Thank you for letting us all see them.

Len

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Cnock

spike10764 and Piscator,

thank You for Your reactions.

In attachment offical Belgian certificate for Alfons Billiau, when he quits his job at

Pelabon Works, he has a delay of 15 days to advise this to the recrutement board.

Cnock

post-7723-1124220023.jpg

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Guest easttwickbuzz

Hello Cnock. It is a long time since you posted the information about your grandparents, Alfons and Julia Biliau, on this website. Perhaps you have now found the answers you wanted about the two photos at the end. Someone suggested the first of these was from White City. I have no information about this one, but I can help about the second.

The second photo shows the visit to the Pelabon Works in Twickenham of the Band of the (Belgian) Grenadier Guards. The Band made a goodwill tour of UK in 1916 (I think - without checking my records), and came and played outside the factory. It also played outside the Town Hall, and was welcomed by the local Mayor. Your photograph is the same as one which was published in Les Belges en Exile by Amand Varlez, 1917; it is also now shown on the website Medecins de la Grande Guerre http://www.1914-1918.be/photo.php?image=photos/insolite_village_tamise/pelabon_007b.jpg . Your own version shows more of the foreground than these. This is very interesting because it shows a group of Belgian "Boy Scouts" who, according the L'Independence Belge, led the Band in procession when they marched to the Works. This is the only photograph of the Belgian Boy Scouts from Twickenham/Richmond which I have ever seen, and so extremely valuable..

I hope you receive this message because I have a second reason for contacting you. I am part of a small local group in Twickenham making a serious study of the history of the Belgian 1WW Refugees in our area. We have been trying very hard to make contact with descendants of the 1WW Belgians in our area. This is partly for research reasons, and partly because we are arranging a big commemoration here in May 1915, and would like to invite people to join us. Even if they can't come over, it would be good if they were with us in spirit.

Could you please be so kind as to reply to this email on etwickvill@hotmail.com . We were really excited when we found your postings about your grandparents because the stories are so personal - most of what we uncover is very dry and factual. I would love to talk to you more about all this.

Best wishes, Helen

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