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Belgian Refugees

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zijde26

Some figures :

NL : 200000 (December 1914) , 105000 (mai 1915): the figure of Belgian refugees in the Nl was only very high in the very beginning of ww1; for several reasons a very big part of the Belgian refugees returned very rapidly to their home-country.

UK : 125000 (November 1918)

FR : more than 325000

Some data :

A very good book (in dutch) in respect of (Belgian) refugees in The Netherlands is "Oorlogsgasten ", written by Evelyn De Roodt. (reading and/or understanding the dutch language is necessary)

A book in general about refugees (one chapter deals with Belgian refugees in ww1) is written by Anne

Morelli.

I do think that Pierre Alain Tallier (Brussels University ?) has been publishing (PhD ?) about Belgian

refugees in ww1.

Armand Varlez has been writing "Les Belges en Exil"

Gilbert Deraedt

A while ago there was a documentary film on the Belgian TV (Canvas) about Birtley and its ammunition factory (ww1)

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Bart150

Thanks Gilbert. Your message exposes the important distinction between

- refugee who leaves Belgium and stays away until the end of the War or even forever

- refugee who leaves Belgium temporarily and returns a few weeks or months later.

The Frans Halsmuseum in Haarlem gives a figure of one million WW1 Belgian refugees in the Netherlands on one of its information boards. Even by the most relaxed definition of a refugee this strikes me as incredibly high. Why does the Frans Halsmuseum raise the matter? In order to draw a parallel with Belgian emigration in the 17th century.

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zijde26
Thanks Gilbert. Your message exposes the important distinction between

- refugee who leaves Belgium and stays away until the end of the War or even forever

- refugee who leaves Belgium temporarily and returns a few weeks or months later.

The Frans Halsmuseum in Haarlem gives a figure of one million WW1 Belgian refugees in the Netherlands on one of its information boards. Even by the most relaxed definition of a refugee this strikes me as incredibly high. Why does the Frans Halsmuseum raise the matter? In order to draw a parallel with Belgian emigration in the 17th century.

To Bart150,

Having not seen that information board, I can only say the following :

- that figure of 1000000 might be true if you consider only the very beginning of ww1.

Another distinction is also : civilian refugees <---> mililtary (BE, DE, FR, UK, ... ) refugees

Gilbert Deraedt

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zijde26
In order to draw a parallel with Belgian emigration in the 17th century.

There is, in my opinion, no parallel and/or no link with on the one hand the Belgian ww1 refugees and on the other hand the Belgian 17th century emigration.

Being a refugee is a problem since centuries. Well described by Anne Morelli.

Gilbert Deraedt :blink:

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zijde26

Does anyone know litterature about 'belgian refugees' in specifically the UK ?

Thanks,

Gilbert Deraedt :mellow:

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Moonraker

I've just bought a couple of postcards of Codford village in Wiltshire, around which a massive army camp was built in 1914. In the middle of the village (either side of a milestone that still stands though the area is now clear of buildings) were erected shack shops to cater for soldiers' needs. The written message says that "the shop with the flag flying over it is a Belgian refreshment shop, there are several girls and a boy & father & mother run the show and also hire out an old Ford car".

The other card has a message written in perfect English in June 1917 by P Van Dyck, who tells that he has found a job with the British Army as a "surveyor's clerk and draughtsman in a Division Officer's R.E. office. I have to work every day from 9 to 7, Sundays from 9 to 1pm. I get a civilian's salary, have no uniform and have to look only after my meals".

A quick Google suggests that "van Dyck" can be a Belgian as well as a Dutch name (confirmation appreciated), and I'm guessing that the writer was a Belgian refugee.

Moonraker

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zijde26
I've just bought a couple of postcards of Codford village in Wiltshire, around which a massive army camp was built in 1914. In the middle of the village (either side of a milestone that still stands though the area is now clear of buildings) were erected shack shops to cater for soldiers' needs. The written message says that "the shop with the flag flying over it is a Belgian refreshment shop, there are several girls and a boy & father & mother run the show and also hire out an old Ford car".

The other card has a message written in perfect English in June 1917 by P Van Dyck, who tells that he has found a job with the British Army as a "surveyor's clerk and draughtsman in a Division Officer's R.E. office. I have to work every day from 9 to 7, Sundays from 9 to 1pm. I get a civilian's salary, have no uniform and have to look only after my meals".

A quick Google suggests that "van Dyck" can be a Belgian as well as a Dutch name (confirmation appreciated), and I'm guessing that the writer was a Belgian refugee.

Moonraker

Considering " ck " in the name ' van Dyck ' , it might be Belgian,

Are the said two postcards for sale ?

Gilbert Deraedt

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John G

Hi,

a very small amount arrived in Lichfield in November 1914 and were accomodated in Gaia Lane in a property fully furnished and with low rental.

We also had Belgian wounded in the local hospital and the contents of a Belgian newspaper were displayed at a number of shops. After 1914 there is no further on there whereabouts unfortunately, though they might be recorded in the 1918 electoral registers.

John

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centurion
Does anyone know litterature about 'belgian refugees' in specifically the UK ?

Thanks,

Gilbert Deraedt :mellow:

The most famous Belgian Refugee in literature (a opposed to fact) is of course a recently arrived Inspector in the Belgian police - this being the first appearance of H Poirot in the pages of A Christie.

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Moonraker
Considering " ck " in the name ' van Dyck ' , it might be Belgian,

Are the said two postcards for sale ?

Gilbert Deraedt

Sorry, Gilbert, they're for my own collection of "military Wiltshire".

Moonraker

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toofatfortakeoff

Edward Welbourne later Lieut. 18th Durhams MC noted that at Oxford, he was the only student left because of health rejection.

He noted in letters home by the November of 1914, most of the good (Belgian) men had 'gone back to fight with the army, leaving a corps (in Oxford) of undesirables!'

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deano

post-17978-1189319831.jpg

Hi

this from Sheffield City Road Cemetery, the memorial to the Belgians who died in Sheffield.

3000 were in Sheffield, the names of the dead are inscripted around the four panels of the memorial.

Dean

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jay dubaya

Some Belgian refugees who made it to Sheffield were housed in huts which had been erected just off Tyler Street and Petre Street, overlooking the main Vickers Steel Works, the first street was aptly named Munitions Street. The huts were taken over later in the war by the influx of workers into the city and remained until the outbreak of WW2, when they were demolished as a fire hazard.

I live not far from Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, where there is a memorial which reads,

'Erected by Steam Trawler Owners and people of Ostend who were resident in this town during the Great War 1914 – 1919 as a mark of gratitude to the British Nation in general and the people of Milford Haven in particular. For the hospitality received here during the period of exile from Belgium

De costetidsohl stoomvisscheris aan de Britische Natie en stad Milford Haven in dankbare tierinnerind vaan het verblijf alhier 1914 – 1919'

At the outset of the First World War, some sixty Belgian trawlers found refuge at Milford Haven, which also provided home for over 200 refugees, including the Belgian Royal family.

Mathias, Mrs. G. H. (Cardigan)

Awarded the 'Medaille de la Reine Elizabeth' by the King of Belgium, 28/6/1918, p. 3, c. B

I'll see what more details I can find,

cheers, Jon

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John G

An update about Ross on Wye in Herefordshire.

The Belgians arrived in 4 batches in Spetember 1914.

A few arrived by 10/9(believed to be middle class) then on the 23rd 30 peasants, another 25 on 26th and finally 28 on the 30th.

By 1916 the number had dwindled to 26 and were residing in Wye Street after moving from the hostel in New Street. One of the men was a 72 year old cobbler called Goolens.

They left the county in March 1919

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Guest grizzy

This is my first post on the Forum - hello to all members.

A link which may of interest: Brent Museum & Archive Occasional Publication No4. http://www.brent.gov.uk/heritage.nsf/97ada...ibliography.pdf

I would have attached the file but, even zipped, it's bigger than 100kb.

My own interest in this area if because my Belgian grandfather and his family were among those who arrived in Milford Haven.

I look forward to reading of any other information on the subject.

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Brasso

I have just come across the accounts book and report for the "Committee of the East View Belgian Refugees" for 1916. This committee supported houses for Belgian refugees at 12, 12A,. 149 and 151 Upperthorpe in Sheffield, amongst other houses. About 15% of the funding was supplied by the Belgian Consul's Fund and about 30% from the refugees own earnings.

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Harry20

There were a number of Belgian Refugees in and around Kirkintilloch (Dunbartonshire about 6 miles NE of Glasgow) during the First World War - some information on them has been published in Anne Round et al's 1979 publication The Great War 1914-18 Impact on Kirkintilloch.

The Kirkintilloch Burgh Council on 14 October 1914 referred to a telegram recieved from London the day before advising that "a large number of Belgian refugees are being sent to Glasgow partly for disposal there and partly for distribution from Glasgow to other centres willing to receive them" and appeaing to the Burgh to provide assistance. A number of Belgian families were subsequently offered hospitality at Rowantreefaulds Cottages in nearby Lennoxtown.

A letter of 31 December 1914 from the Secretary of the local committee who have underaken resposibility for the refugees gives the following employment details of a number of them;

Wm Baird & Co, Auchenreoch Pit (coal mine), Milton of Campsie ; Louis Kevelasns, Rene & Emilius Nicwennuyse

Lillyburn Calico Printworks, Milton of Campsie; Fransiscus Vande and Floren Bastiaens.

(Lennoxtown is situated about 4 miles north of Kirkintilloch and Milton of Campsie is a mile or two along the road from Lennoxtown)

The booklet cites more than a million Belgian refugees fleeing their country, most went to tFrance but "according to official figures 100,000 came to Britain"

By Christmas 1914 money was received from the USA via the Prince of Wales National Relief Fund to buy presents for the 19 Belgian children then under the care of Kirkintilloch Burgh Council, and a letter of 20 February 1915 states that they were looking after "a colony of about 50". All able bodied refugees were expected to find employement. They kept 1/3rd of thier pay, another third went to finance the work of the Committee, and the remainder was put to a Homegoing Fund. Concerts and lectures were given to help boost he Homegoing Fund.

Peter Vanderveld and another unnamed member of his family , who were put up at Industry Street in the Townhead area of Kirkintilloch were employed at P Macgregor & Sons Lytd Boatyard on the Forth & Clyde canal in Kirkintilloch, Peter as one of the first pneumatic rivetters at the yard.

In July 1915 a case of unspecified "friction" resulted in the recommendation that the "Nemejeens and Vandessels families" be removed from Rowantreefaulds.

On 28 July 1915 three of the males at Rowantreefaulds responded to King Abert's call to arms and were given a hearty send off, each presented with a small pocket case and a sum of money being their respective share of the Home Going Fund.

By 20 October 1915 it was reported that most of the Refugees had found employment and were effectively supporting themsleves.

In May 1916 J August Pas wrote to the Council seeking permission to remove from Rowantreefaulds to Paisley to find more steady work. He was employed athe Lillyburn Calico Printworks but the work was intermittent and poorly paid. His request was declined.

Mr Pas is one of three of the Belgian Refugees who are buried in a marked grave at the Auld Aisle cemetery in Kirkintilloch (for a picture of the stone see Scottish War Graves project by searching on Auld Aisle, Kirkintilloch) ;

The three are commemorated only by name under the generic heading Belgian Refugees 1914-18. Having checked their death certificates here are further particulars;

Kamilli Albeert Verkammen who died at 35 Industry Street, Kirkintiloch on 21 July 1916, aged just 11 days (his birth was registered in Kirkintilloch). He was the son of Petrus Verkammen a boatyard labourer (could this be one and the same as Big Peter Vanderveld the pneumatic rivetter) and his wife Marie Joanna Verkammen (nee ?Peyeaerts) perhas?)

Eugenius Leonitius Vander Plaetsen (the headstone gives him as Eugene van der Plaetsen) of 11 Rowantreefaulds Cottages, Lennoxtown (and domiciled normally at 6 Rue Courte, Ostend, Belgium) who was 25 and single. He died of tuberculour osteitis of the spine at East District Hospital, Glasgow on 6 Decmber 1916. His parents are given as Julien Vander Plaetsen a decased Joiner, and Petronilla Vander Plaetsen (nee Haeghermon(?), also deceased). His death was registered by his cousin Rene (.....huyse? - possibly the same Rene Nickwennuyse who was recorded as working at Auchenreoch Pit in Decmber 1914) whose address is given as Block 2 Elizabeth Villa, Batley or (Birtley?)

Joannes August Pas, who died in Glasgow Royal Infirmary on 9 October 1918 of pneumonia. He was a 53 year old railway wagon painter of 17 Garden Street (Glasgow), who was usually domiciled at 8 Route Militaire, Deume(?), Antwerp, Belgium. He was married to Marie Barara Volekaerts (who registered his death) and was the son of Fransiscus Pas a deceased factory worker an dhis (also deceased) wife Barbara pas (nee Janssens).

There were also Belgian Refugees living in Perth in Scotland. Perth Musuem and Art Gallery has a chromolithographic print of King Albert 1 of Belgium which was presented to Perth Town Council by the Belgian Refugees about 1916.

Cowgate

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Stephen Nulty

Mounted on the wall inside Manchester Town Hall

post-1356-0-02597200-1315575600.jpg

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Seany

Re the Belgian refugees at Birtley - whilst researching my grandfather I made the following notes, minus the original photographs:

Many were left homeless, such as this family leaving Ghent in 1914, and many thousands of Belgian refugees came to Newcastle where they were as warmly welcomed as the Irish had been fifty years before.

Overall the attitude towards Belgium and Belgians was one of strong support with the tone of newspaper editorials and readers letters alluding to their bravery or the gallant actions of 'plucky little Belgium' who was being outrageously attacked by the bully of Europe, as captured in this Punch cartoon of 1914.

The Newcastle Daily Journal for New Years day 1915 published an appeal, by the North Newcastle and Tyneside Belgian Refugee Committee, for new premises to help continue their work with 500 refugees. The Executive committee of the Horse and Drivers Welfare Committee wrote a long letter expressing their concerns about the provision of suitable food for the 'many thousands of destitute Belgians in our midst'. Their solution -

'It is known that horse flesh is in Holland, France and Belgium a staple food. In times of peace 1000 live horses are exported each week from this country to the continent. We are anxious to develop a scheme by which our welcome Belgian guests could be provided with a form of food that they appreciate.'

The King of Belgium wrote to the people of Newcastle thanking them for their support and urging them not to forget his people

'Despite all that can be done the suffering of this winter will be terrible. But, the burden we must bear will be lightened if my people can be spared the pangs of hunger with its frightful consequences'.

The level of sympathy was enormous and Newcastle established a Belgian relief fund that by New Years day 1915 had reached £10,863 and 15 shillings and was growing by £1000 a month.

A letter to the Newcastle Daily Chronicle published on Wednesday 14th October 1914 is typical of those written by local people and states

"Sir, in one house in Gateshead there are 26 Belgian refugees who are being helped by admirers of their brave country. They can speak nothing but Flemish and it is difficult to converse with them. I suggest a Belgian evening be held two or three times each month for refugees to meet up. Surely the authorities could provide a suitable room for this".

The authorities did much more. A partnership between WG Armstrong's, the British and Belgian governments saw the creation of a whole new village and two munitions factories wholly occupied by some ten thousand Belgian refugees. Elizabethville was established near Birtley on the outskirts of Newcastle. Within a short space of time 700 two or three bedroom cottages had been built and a number of hostels for single men.

Elizabethville was run exclusively as a part of Belgium the school for 500 children was staffed by Belgian teachers, the hospital by Belgian doctors and nurses, there was a Chef du Village supported by gendarmes, a prison and a Catholic church. The church of St. Michael was served by Father Michael Verpoorten from Brussels who, in his three years at Elizabethville, baptised 277 children, performed 84 marriages and 75 funerals.

Fast forward to end of war

Others were returning home in the other direction. The Belgian Government needed its people back and so on the 9th December 1918 the first 2000 men from Elizabethville left for home. Special trains were arranged, they left to cheering crowds of local people and were met in Antwerp by the King of Belgium. Over the next few weeks a further 6,000 Belgians left Elizabethville and on the 10th January 1919 Father Verpoorten offered a High Mass and the camp closed for good. No trace of it remains other than 75 graves that are looked after by the local Catholic Church.

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Harry20

Dear Seany

thanks for the inf on Birtley - that was clealry where Eugenius L Vander Plaetsen's cousin Rene was living at the time he registered Eugenius' death in December 1916.

Cowgate

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Magnumbellum

A number of Belgian refugees were received in Maidenhead, Berkshire. I have no details, but a trawl of the Maidehhead Advertiser might prove fruitful.

Some local children attempted to try out their school French on the refugees, only to discover, which they had never been told, that Belgium is a bicultural and bilingual country, and the refugees were Flemish.

Incidentally, Flemish is essentially a minor variation of Dutch, and van Dyck could well be a Flemish name.

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Seany

The archive office at Blandford square in Newcastle has good records for Elizabethville and all the priests records survive showing names and other details for all births, marriages and deaths during the time that the camp existed.

Dear Seany

thanks for the inf on Birtley - that was clealry where Eugenius L Vander Plaetsen's cousin Rene was living at the time he registered Eugenius' death in December 1916.

Cowgate

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Harry20

Dear Seany

once again, thank you for the contact info re Elizabethville.

Cowgate

The archive office at Blandford square in Newcastle has good records for Elizabethville and all the priests records survive showing names and other details for all births, marriages and deaths during the time that the camp existed.

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Terry_Reeves

Cowgate

You will find a large amount of information about Belgians at Birtley in the files of the Ministry of Munitions, including photographs of groups of individuals , accommodation and workshops etc. They are well worth reading.

http://tinyurl.com/6dk6l9w

TR

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Harry20

And again, Terry, my thanks also

Cowgate

Cowgate

You will find a large amount of information about Belgians at Birtley in the files of the Ministry of Munitions, including photographs of groups of individuals , accommodation and workshops etc. They are well worth reading.

http://tinyurl.com/6dk6l9w

TR

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