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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Belgian Refugees

per ardua per mare per terram

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Housed upto 19 families during the War period. All the men & boys took work around the village (Mainly agricultural work as you may expect although at least one worked as a smithy & one as a carpenter) as did the women who took needlework classes to be able to be self sufficient and therefore not a further burden to their hosts in the Village. From my research i believe all apart from one family swiftly returned home at the end of the War.

From Bavins book, Swindons War record "A large number of refugees were housed".


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  • 9 years later...

I am the greatgranddaughter of Petrus Vercammen and Georgia Maria Joanna Feyaerts, Belgian refugees send to Blair Villa in Lenzie (October 1914) wth their 2- year old son Vincent.  They were also the parents of Kamilli Albert Verkammen (born om the 10. July 1916 in 35 Industry Street Kirkintiloch and died on 21 July) .  Harry20 is writing about them on this forum in 2011: "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?)".  

My greatgrandparents, Petrus (indeed a rivetter !) and Georgia Maria Joanna (by her children called 'Moe Stef') became parents of my grandfather, Emiel vercammen, on 20. December 1918 in Roselle House, Marlborough Avenue, Glasgow.  Petrus was working as a rivetter at Harland & Wolf at that time.  The family returned to Belgium in 1919 (?)  and lived in the town of Scherpenheuvel. My grandfather died in 2002.  Ik search everything I can find about their 4,5 years in Lenzie/ Kirkintiloch and Glasgow.  I found an image of all the refugees in Lenzie in 1914 and I immediately recognised my greatgrandparents and my greatuncle. Petrus is the man with the little boy (= my greatuncle Vincent) on his arm and his wife is standing next to him.  I would like to know if the graveyard of Kamilli Albert is still existing and if the House they were living in in 1916 - 35 Industry sStreet- still exists.  All other information on my family is welcome !  


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Virginia Julia,

Let it be clear : I can't help you...  :-(   But being Belgian myself (near Ieper / Ypres) your posting roused my interest. "Does 35 Industry Street still exist ?" So I went to Google Streetview, and ... can't find the answer. The streetview photo you see below shows Industry Street, from the beginning (i.e. the present beginning), looking west. It appears to be approx. 200 metres long.

But .. the first house on the right is housenumber 23, the following house (being built) is number 21, and the house you see at a distance is the first in a row. The one you see is number 13, and the following not visible houses  must be 15 down to 1. It seems to me that these half a dozen houses look much older ? (Dating from 100years ago ? No idea.) (By the way, I find the visibility of the housenumbers in the UK always very difficult, compared to our 'better' Belgian system ...  :-) )

So my questions remained: what about your number 35 ?! I don't know ... It must (?)  be on the right side. But the Streetview car was at the very beginning of Industry Street! (Behind the car, after a bend, is "Woodhead Avenue"). It seems to me that the stretch of the (original ?) Industry Street in which the numbers higher that 23 (including 35) has disappeared : replaced by a wider and more important road, renamed A806 and / or Waterside Road. (Which I saw on the Google map.)


But please, I am not at all an expert ! Other members, from the area, hopefully can correct me where I am wrong. Besides, I am not at all sure if the housenumbering system now is still the same as in WW1 !



Kirkintilloch Industry Street.jpg

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Thank You (dankjewel !) for your information, mijnheer Sercu uit Ieper :-)  I once saw a picture of the marked grave at the Auld Aisle cemetery in Kirkintilloch, but I can't find it anymore.  I'm just curious to learn more about the life of my ancestors as Belgian refugees in Lenzie (Blair Villa, winter 1914-1915), Kirkintilloch (35, Industry Street, 1916) and Glasgow (Roselle House, Marlborough Avenue, 1917- 19-19 ?), so I hope this platform can help me and I can help other people. It's nice to see this immediate response !







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Dag Virginia Julia,


Jammer dat er niet meer reacties komen. I had hoped that someone from Glasgow or Kirkintilloch would have showed up to help you. For I understand your point : it can be very tempting to find out how the place looks or looked where an ancestor lived during WW I.

Let's hope you are succesfull in the end in your quest.




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Hallo Virginia. Uit Nederland, en ben nog nooit in Schotland geweest!:D

but Google Streetview gives a picture of 15 Industry Street:



I guess nr 35 would have been in the next block, maybe(?) looking similar to nr 15, but sadly that block was demolished to cater for this:




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This is from the National Library of Scotland Old Maps site and shows Industry Street running across the lower part of the screen capture. I can't find the exact date but it should be 1890-1914 or thereabouts.


Kirkintilloch 1.png

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This is definitely the 1914 map: and here is a link to the site, so that you can zoom in or out as you wish; https://maps.nls.uk/view/75650190

Another screen capture:


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Yes, first I tended to agree (that number 35 may have been in a block similar to the the one you posted, with numberrs 15, 13, 11, ...)

But then seeing SeaJane's plans it looks like there was no such block ?  And even : hardly any houses ?

And again that same question rose : can we assume that the house numbering system as it is now is the same as a century ago ?


I also think I can see that Industry Street a century ago was longer stretching more to the east) than now ?



Edited by Aurel Sercu
Posting suddenly had escaped ! :-(
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  • 2 years later...
On 05/09/2007 at 19:33, Moonraker said:

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.


I have a little painting made by P Van Dyck in 1918. Perhaps this is the same person.



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Correct me if i have it wrong. But what i know/heard was that Netherlands had 1 million refugees on a population of 9 million. That is a lot.

The soldiers/sailors and airmen that crossed the border of Netherlands and held in a camp get there salary, but government of Netherlands gave that bill to the countries of those sailor/soldier/airmen. That is usual in those cases.

The civilians that lived in Netherlands lived from charity and money of the (local or dutch) government.



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