Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.
The hidden history of Belgian refugees in
Britain, with a noted focus on Wales
c.declercq@ucl.ac.uk
@belgianrefugees
Natio...
"The story of the Belgian refugees is fascinating. Most arrived with tales
of terrible destruction […]. This exhibition sh...
That was then, this is now
As with any conflict, civilian history gives away under the
pressure of the military and politi...
On the run
• Germany invaded Belgium on 4 August, upon which Britain declared
war on Germany.
• Atrocities by German soldi...
6
On the run
BR workers in Britain (16-05-13) 8
The sacking of Louvain, 25 August 1914
9
Christophe Declercq (CenTraS@UCL, Imperial College,
@belgianrefugees)
10
11
12
13
14
15
17
A few figures (1/3)
• In that late summer and early autumn of 1914, nearly three million
Belgians were on the run (out ...
A few figures (2/3)
• By Christmas 1914 nearly 100,000 Belgians resided on the British Isles,
about 90% of those in Englan...
19
20
21
22
23
A few figures (3/3)
• Is a long-term convalescing Belgian soldier, looked after by a Belgian
refugee committee and part of...
Report on the Work Undertaken… (1920)
Christophe Declercq (CenTraS@UCL, Imperial College,
@belgianrefugees)
27
Christophe Declercq (CenTraS@UCL, Imperial College,
@belgianrefugees)
28
So why has this history been ‘hidden’ for so
long?
The sojourn in Britain of about a quarter of a million Belgians has lon...
So why has this history been ‘hidden’ for so
long?
• In short, by mid-1915, Belgians disappeared from view into the
factor...
So why has this history been ‘hidden’ for so
long? – discourse and support
• Belgian refugees were part of the general dis...
32
Distress relief and charity
• British
• Private: War Refugees Committee (Lady Lugard), Aldwych
• Several departments: o...
33
2nd December 1914: Letter regarding refugee
allocation (Lorna Hughes 2014)
35
Spreading vs. control
• The two most important locations for Belgians in the UK are
London and Folkestone.
• Most Belgians...
Spreading vs. control
• Other cities:
• Liverpool, Manchester & Salford
• Birmingham, Bromwich, Wolverhampton
• Leicester,...
38
39
40
British newspapers
• British Library Newspaper Archive (nearly 13m pages, and counting), Welsh
Newspapers Online and the s...
N-Gram of ‘Belgian Refugees’ in Welsh newspapers
(Hughes 2014)
42
Fragmented and omitted from memory
• When the ‘British Belgians’ return to their native land, they go back to a fragmented...
Sampling from the history of the Belgians in
Britain, and from the one in Wales
• The issue of numbers
• Education
• Emplo...
The issue of numbers
• In 1919, the Ministry of Health oversaw the publication of what, from
a British perspective, is in ...
Numbers & the British Isles
• On 31 August 1917, the Comité Officiel Belge pour l’Angleterre, the Official
Belgian Committ...
Belgians in Wales
• Early on in the conflict, the Davies sisters arranged for a number of
Belgian artists to be brought to...
August-Edmond de Schryver
• Mobilitiy
• Educated at Sint-Barbara College, Ghent
• 16 years old: from Ostend to Folkestone ...
De Jastrzebski (1916): mobility
Putting pieces together – A Welsh ABC (so far!)
Aberdare; Aberystwyth;
Bargoed; Bettws-y-Coed; Bodfean; Bontnewydd & Llanf...
Education
• Tens of thousands of Belgian children
• Most of them were accommodated in British schools, often with a Belgia...
Education
Belgian schools in Wales
Belgian primary schools with a Belgium curriculum, recognised and funded by the
Belgian governmen...
Christophe Declercq (CenTraS@UCL, Imperial College,
@belgianrefugees)
59
13.01.14, Vrijzinnig Ontmoetingscentrum, Hasselt
Employment
Yet as the war dragged on the ‘Belgian refugee’ needed more than
reception, accommodation and subsidized suppor...
Belgians in British factories
1. Vickers, Barrow-in-Furness – 5797 employees
2. Jackson, Sir John, Salisbury – 1914 employ...
Belgian factories in the UK
1. Pelabon Works, Twickenham – 1705 employees
2. Kryn & Lahy Metal Works, Letchworth – 1469 em...
Belgian Metal Workers
• Willem Eekelers, a representative of the Antwerp branch of the Metal
Workers in Belgium, started a...
Putting the Belgians to use
• “The Belgians who will be employed at the Birtley National
Projectile Factory may convently ...
67
Elisabethville,
Birtley
(Gateshead)
BR workers in Britain (16-05-13) 68
Birtley today
Belgian newspapers in exile
• The Belgians also relied on an
intricate spread of exile
newspapers and journals.
70
13.01.14, Vrijzinnig Ontmoetingscentrum, Hasselt
13.01.14, Vrijzinnig Ontmoetingscentrum, Hasselt
13.01.14, Vrijzinnig Ontmoetingscentrum, Hasselt
74
Return / repatriation
• The Repatriation Fund was established not long after the War Refugees
Committee emerged.
• Clearly...
Gratitude
78
History repeats itself
• When the Germans invaded Belgium again in 1940, thousands of Belgians
came to Britain once again,...
And yet
• Michael Morpurgo is the grandson of Emile Cammaerts, the Belgian
who had come to London prior to the First World...
84
85
86
So, where are they?
• Well, you only need to ‘scratch the surface’ and there they are
• However, misunderstandings and myt...
If you have any family story to tell, do you have
any pictures that can help shed a more varied
light on this history, ple...
Wales for Peace alongside Amsab-ISG (Ghent)
• Striking iconographic material relevant to support a visual history of the
B...
93
www.belgianrefugees14-18.be/index.php/activiteiten/pers/37-
terug-naar-milford-haven
95
Belgian Refugees Wales for Peace Lecture by Christophe Declercq, Feb 2016
Belgian Refugees Wales for Peace Lecture by Christophe Declercq, Feb 2016
Belgian Refugees Wales for Peace Lecture by Christophe Declercq, Feb 2016
Belgian Refugees Wales for Peace Lecture by Christophe Declercq, Feb 2016
Belgian Refugees Wales for Peace Lecture by Christophe Declercq, Feb 2016
Belgian Refugees Wales for Peace Lecture by Christophe Declercq, Feb 2016
Belgian Refugees Wales for Peace Lecture by Christophe Declercq, Feb 2016
Belgian Refugees Wales for Peace Lecture by Christophe Declercq, Feb 2016
Belgian Refugees Wales for Peace Lecture by Christophe Declercq, Feb 2016
Belgian Refugees Wales for Peace Lecture by Christophe Declercq, Feb 2016
Belgian Refugees Wales for Peace Lecture by Christophe Declercq, Feb 2016
Belgian Refugees Wales for Peace Lecture by Christophe Declercq, Feb 2016
Belgian Refugees Wales for Peace Lecture by Christophe Declercq, Feb 2016
Belgian Refugees Wales for Peace Lecture by Christophe Declercq, Feb 2016
Belgian Refugees Wales for Peace Lecture by Christophe Declercq, Feb 2016
Belgian Refugees Wales for Peace Lecture by Christophe Declercq, Feb 2016
Belgian Refugees Wales for Peace Lecture by Christophe Declercq, Feb 2016
Belgian Refugees Wales for Peace Lecture by Christophe Declercq, Feb 2016
Belgian Refugees Wales for Peace Lecture by Christophe Declercq, Feb 2016
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Belgian Refugees Wales for Peace Lecture by Christophe Declercq, Feb 2016

1,349 views

Published on

In Feb 2016, WCIA‘s Wales for Peace project in partnership with the David Davies Memorial Institute at Aberystwyth University launched a call to gather together ‘hidden histories’ of over 4,500 Belgian Refugees for whom Wales became home and sanctuary through the First World War – stimulated by a public lecture by Christophe Declercq, one of the UK’s leading experts on the topic from UCL and the Amsab Institute / University of Ghent, and UK liaison of Belgian Refugees 1914-18.

'Refugees and Sanctuary' is one of 6 themes being explored by volunteers and partners working with WCIA (funded by HLF) to capture Wales' 'peace heritage' - exploring how Welsh people have contributed to the search for peace in the 100 years since WW1, up to today's 'Nation of Sanctuary' movement.

More information:
http://www.wcia.org.uk/wfp/theme_refugeesandsanctuary.html

Published in: Education
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Belgian Refugees Wales for Peace Lecture by Christophe Declercq, Feb 2016

  1. 1. The hidden history of Belgian refugees in Britain, with a noted focus on Wales c.declercq@ucl.ac.uk @belgianrefugees National Library of Wales and International Politics Department (Aberystwyth University) 17.02.2016
  2. 2. "The story of the Belgian refugees is fascinating. Most arrived with tales of terrible destruction […]. This exhibition shines a light on the hardships many people in the UK and mainland Europe had to endure to ensure the safeguarding of values like freedom and democracy for their children and the generations to come." Nick Bradley, Swansea Council's Cabinet Member for Regeneration, 27 August 2014 3
  3. 3. That was then, this is now As with any conflict, civilian history gives away under the pressure of the military and political. It took a dead three year old boy, who had died on a beach near a Turkish resort while trying to reach Greece and safer grounds in Europe, before that very same Europe came to realise fully for the first time just how horrible the situation in the Middle East really was. Stretching from Syria all the way to Afghanistan, hundreds of thousands of people, millions, are displaced, on the run, or both. 4
  4. 4. On the run • Germany invaded Belgium on 4 August, upon which Britain declared war on Germany. • Atrocities by German soldiers triggered a mass movement of people. • While some already early on fled to the Netherlands or France, heading north or south, others crossed the Channel. Many, however, sought refuge in Antwerp, the fortified port city. • When the Germans turned to Antwerp end of September / early October 1914, nearly one million people fled the port city in a matter of day. • When Antwerp fell on 9/10 October Antwerp, the city was deserted. Five days later Ostend fell and the front movements stalled for the next four years. 5
  5. 5. 6 On the run
  6. 6. BR workers in Britain (16-05-13) 8 The sacking of Louvain, 25 August 1914
  7. 7. 9
  8. 8. Christophe Declercq (CenTraS@UCL, Imperial College, @belgianrefugees) 10
  9. 9. 11
  10. 10. 12
  11. 11. 13
  12. 12. 14
  13. 13. 15
  14. 14. 17 A few figures (1/3) • In that late summer and early autumn of 1914, nearly three million Belgians were on the run (out of little more than 7m). • More than a million fled to The Netherlands, that stayed neutral. • 325,000 stayed in France, behind what was to become the frontline. • Appr. 265,000 Belgians came to Britain (never more than 172,000 at any time) • It is estimated that up to another 1.5m were still on the run in Belgium itself. • Nearly 3m is 60 times the Lampedusa refugee crisis in 2011, refugees from Tunisia and Libya (but who remembers that one now?).
  15. 15. A few figures (2/3) • By Christmas 1914 nearly 100,000 Belgians resided on the British Isles, about 90% of those in England. • Between 20 September and 24 October, 35,000 Belgians arrived in Folkestone alone. In all, close to 65,000 Belgians will have arrived there throughout the war. • Daily numbers of arrivals at Tilbury varied from 131 to 880 from end of August until early December 1914. • In 1915, nearly another 100,000 came to Britain, mostly to work in the British war industry. • In all in-between 225,000 and 265,000 Belgians stayed in Britain for some time during the First World War, with 173,000 the most at one time. • 75% were from Flanders and/or Dutch-speaking (varieties). • Roughly 2500 local Belgian refugee committees emerged in Britain. 18
  16. 16. 19
  17. 17. 20
  18. 18. 21
  19. 19. 22
  20. 20. 23
  21. 21. A few figures (3/3) • Is a long-term convalescing Belgian soldier, looked after by a Belgian refugee committee and part of the figures of accommodation for that committee, more of a ‘Belgian refugee’ than the refugee who had come from the Netherlands, stayed in Britain briefly and moved on to France? • Nearly 10,000 Belgian children were accommodated in Belgian schools in Britain (Belgian curriculum). • In-between 40,000 and 50,000 Belgians were employed, most of them only after the Shell Crisis of May/June 1915 (little over 5,000 in March 1915). • Over 10,000 Belgians were members of a Belgian union in Britain. • Belgians returned mainly in 1919, although some stayed on for some time, and others returned from their return. • No one knows how many Belgians really stayed. Estimations vary between close to 6,000 and 12,000. 24
  22. 22. Report on the Work Undertaken… (1920)
  23. 23. Christophe Declercq (CenTraS@UCL, Imperial College, @belgianrefugees) 27
  24. 24. Christophe Declercq (CenTraS@UCL, Imperial College, @belgianrefugees) 28
  25. 25. So why has this history been ‘hidden’ for so long? The sojourn in Britain of about a quarter of a million Belgians has long been overlooked. The reasons for this are many. • A discourse used for much longer than public support allowed, although it gradually shifted from Belgian refugees in Britain to Belgian soldiers at the front and Belgians in occupied Belgium. • Disappeared from view in British press. 29
  26. 26. So why has this history been ‘hidden’ for so long? • In short, by mid-1915, Belgians disappeared from view into the factories and schools and they were reported on mainly in their own newspapers. • From a Belgian perspective: only one of the many stories of a fragmentend nation at the time of the FWW, and immediately after. • Most importantly, the Belgians came as imperceptibly as they went. • By mid-1919 virtually all had returned to Belgium, without leaving a clear trace. 30
  27. 27. So why has this history been ‘hidden’ for so long? – discourse and support • Belgian refugees were part of the general discourse and political narrative to keep the British population mobilised. • John Redmond’s poster ‘Remember Belgium’ • So when the war drags on, not over by Christmas, how do you relate to that rationale? It peters out. • In the period August – October 1914, every Briton wanted to have a Belgian in the house. • But the war continues well beyond Christmas and British communities kept sending fathers and sons, husbands and brothers to the front, whereas Belgian able men were being looked after in Britain. Support wanes. 31
  28. 28. 32 Distress relief and charity • British • Private: War Refugees Committee (Lady Lugard), Aldwych • Several departments: one of which oversaw employment • Government: Local Government Board • State: Between 2000 and 2500 local Belgian refugee committees (overseen by LGB) • Belgians themselves • Comité Officiel Belge / Belgian Official Committee • Belgian Legation • Belgian Relief Fund • … • Hundreds of other charity initiatives • Belgian and Serbian relief fund for clothing school children • The Daily Mail, Everyman... • …
  29. 29. 33
  30. 30. 2nd December 1914: Letter regarding refugee allocation (Lorna Hughes 2014) 35
  31. 31. Spreading vs. control • The two most important locations for Belgians in the UK are London and Folkestone. • Most Belgians arrived in Folkestone. • Besides a community of a few thousands of Belgians in the area, Belgian military authorities and intelligence services were also established here. • London was renowned for its ‘dispersal centres’: first Alexandra Palace but then mainly Earls Court. • The first one turned into a POW camp for Germans. • The second one became the hub of a local community of thousands of Belgians. • This also drove the Belgian communities in West London. • Chelsea-Fulham-Sh.Bush-H’smith-Chiswick-Ealing-Twickenham-Richmond- Barnes. • Lots of Belgian butchers were located West London too (horse meat).
  32. 32. Spreading vs. control • Other cities: • Liverpool, Manchester & Salford • Birmingham, Bromwich, Wolverhampton • Leicester, Nottingham, Letchworth, Coventry • Cambridge, Oxford • Exeter, Bristol • Glasgow, Edinburgh • Sheffield, Bradford, Leeds • Cardiff, Swansea • Blackpool, Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn • Newcastle, Gateshead, Durham • 100s of towns and villages
  33. 33. 38
  34. 34. 39
  35. 35. 40
  36. 36. British newspapers • British Library Newspaper Archive (nearly 13m pages, and counting), Welsh Newspapers Online and the search phrase ‘Belgian refugees’: BLNA Welsh ** 1914 10,461 1,285 1915 9,675 * 990 *** 1916 2,168 261 1917 816 85 1918 873 71 1919 430 127 * (figures drop below 1000 per month in May, below 500 per month in September) ** (without an exact phrase search Belgian refugees returns over 14,000 results in the Welsh Newspapers Online only) *** (figures drop below 100 per month in March, below 50 per month in August) 41
  37. 37. N-Gram of ‘Belgian Refugees’ in Welsh newspapers (Hughes 2014) 42
  38. 38. Fragmented and omitted from memory • When the ‘British Belgians’ return to their native land, they go back to a fragmented country. • Parts of the nation’s infrastructure lay in tatters. • Belgians had been experiencing the war from many different perspectives: • Forced labour in Germany • Occupied Belgium • Non-occupied Belgium • Belgian authorities that had been in France mainly, but also in the NL and the UK • Local populations were not always welcoming to returning refugees • After the hardship of the war, thousands of Hungarian children are accommodated in Belgium. • There simply was no shared experience for the entire nation. • Also, when in a family one male had fought at the front, and others had been refugees: when the former soldiers does not tell about his experiences of the horrors of war, why would one listen to civilian histories? ‘My grandfather never spoke about this.’ 43
  39. 39. Sampling from the history of the Belgians in Britain, and from the one in Wales • The issue of numbers • Education • Employment • Newspapers in exile • Repatriation / return 44
  40. 40. The issue of numbers • In 1919, the Ministry of Health oversaw the publication of what, from a British perspective, is in fact the key document in terms of the history of the Belgians in Britain during World War One: “Report of the Work Undertaken by the British Government in the Reception and Care of the Belgian refugees” (HMSO, 1920). The report, which we abbreviate as RWU 1920 for ease of use, incorporates the following estimations: • Based on this one document and corroborated by various other primary sources, it can only be assumed that any estimation of the number of Belgians in Britain is indeed upwards 225,000. 45
  41. 41. Numbers & the British Isles • On 31 August 1917, the Comité Officiel Belge pour l’Angleterre, the Official Belgian Committee for the UK which ran alongside the Belgian Legation in London, published a report that included numbers of Belgians and the area they resided in at the time of its publication. The breakdown between the then constituent nations of Britain, a total of 172,298 is as follows: • England: 155,376 (90.18%) • Scotland: 10,628 (6.17%) • Wales: 4,547 (2.64%) • Ireland: 1,700 (0.99%) • Channel Islands: 47 (0.02%) 46
  42. 42. Belgians in Wales • Early on in the conflict, the Davies sisters arranged for a number of Belgian artists to be brought to Wales. Eventually, nearly a hundred were accommodated, most of them in and around Aberystwyth. • Two small local Belgian communities of about 500 Belgians each were living in Cardiff and Swansea. • More than a thousand Belgians stayed in Pembrokeshire, an area on the outskirts of the main island that not only had century-old ties with Flanders, but also a fishing industry to which the mainly Flemish settlers could relate (Milford Haven). 47
  43. 43. August-Edmond de Schryver • Mobilitiy • Educated at Sint-Barbara College, Ghent • 16 years old: from Ostend to Folkestone on 14 October 1914, via Dover to London • First at Mill Hill, Derby – he’ll be visiting his landlady for decades on after the FWW • Visits to Blyth Wood, Bromley (Catholic School, his sister) • Llanaber, Barmouth • Jesuit College in Barmouth • Belgian Jesuit College at St Leonards on Sea, Hastings • And more • Still a teenager but producing stories for exile newspapers • Graduates Easter 1916 (!), joins the British army in August 1916
  44. 44. De Jastrzebski (1916): mobility
  45. 45. Putting pieces together – A Welsh ABC (so far!) Aberdare; Aberystwyth; Bargoed; Bettws-y-Coed; Bodfean; Bontnewydd & Llanfaglan; Brynamman; Breconshire; Bridgend Welsh Tabernacle; Caerwys; Cardiff; Cardigan; Carmarthen; Carnavon; Clogagnog; Colwyn Bay; Corwen; Criccieth; Crickhowell; Cwmllynfell […] 52
  46. 46. Education • Tens of thousands of Belgian children • Most of them were accommodated in British schools, often with a Belgian section, a Belgian teacher or a Belgian teacher or priest passing by regularly. • Virtually all school logs report successful immersion and assimilation. • Thousands of Belgian children went to entirely Belgian schools established in Britain especially for that purpose. • Whichever the system of education: the children disappeared from view, either because of Belgian schools, either because their Belgianness waned. • By the end of the school year 1916-1917, • 9,000 children were being taught in Belgian primary schools across Britain, • another 1,200 in secondary schools, making a total of 10,200 Belgian children, • that is, roughly one in three Belgian children. • The total number of schools was 70 primary and 12 secondary subsidised schools and a further 30 schools that did not apply for funding, but followed a Belgian curriculum nonetheless. 53
  47. 47. Education
  48. 48. Belgian schools in Wales Belgian primary schools with a Belgium curriculum, recognised and funded by the Belgian government • Barmouth, 8 Marine Gardens • Cardiff, 9 Richmond Crescent • Newport, Holy Cross School, Emelyn Road • Towyn, 30 Idris Villa Belgian primary schools with a Belgium curriculum, recognised by the Belgian government but not funded • Cardiff, St. David School, David Street • Carnavon, St. Helen's Convent • Milford Haven, 28 Priory Road 55
  49. 49. Christophe Declercq (CenTraS@UCL, Imperial College, @belgianrefugees) 59
  50. 50. 13.01.14, Vrijzinnig Ontmoetingscentrum, Hasselt
  51. 51. Employment Yet as the war dragged on the ‘Belgian refugee’ needed more than reception, accommodation and subsidized support, consequently across Britain tens of thousands of Belgians were gradually employed in the war industry. Sometimes this led to the development of a true Belgian colony around a particular factory • Elisabethville near Newcastle • Pelabon in Twickenham/Richmond • Kryn&Lahy in Letchworth • … 61
  52. 52. Belgians in British factories 1. Vickers, Barrow-in-Furness – 5797 employees 2. Jackson, Sir John, Salisbury – 1914 employees 3. Armstrong Whitworth, Glasgow & Newcastle – 1335 employees 4. Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway – 708 employees 5. Coventry Ordnance Works, Coventry & Glasgow – 662 employees 6. War Office, 505 employees 7. Wolseley Tool and Motor Co., Birmingham – 407 employees 8. Austin Motor, Birmingham & Oxford – 397 employees 9. Central Zinc Works, Seaton Crew – 365 employees 10. Locke & Lancaster, Rotherhite and Poplar – 346 employees 62
  53. 53. Belgian factories in the UK 1. Pelabon Works, Twickenham – 1705 employees 2. Kryn & Lahy Metal Works, Letchworth – 1469 employees 3. General Stores and Munitions, 132 Goldhawk Road, SW, London – 950 employees 4. Claes, Devis & co, Broad Street, Eastcliff – 450 employees 5. Forgings & Stampings, Martin Derihon, 3 Piccadilly, London – 291 employees 6. Société Belge de mécanique, 9 Brewery Road, Caledonian Road, London – 230 employees 7. De Bruyn, 20 Eastcheap, E.C. London – 160 employees 8. James Francis Works, 66/68 Wandsworth Road, S.W. London – 150 employees 9. Lenaerts & Dolphens, Willow avenue, Barnes – 140 employees 10. Barnes Mechanical Works, Barnes – 130 employees 63
  54. 54. Belgian Metal Workers • Willem Eekelers, a representative of the Antwerp branch of the Metal Workers in Belgium, started a union in the UK: Belgian Metal Workers. • British unions were still based along professional categories, not along industry sectors, which was what the Belgian unions did. • Eekelers also differentiated manual labour and administrative workers • The CBM, Centrale van Belgische Metaalbewerkers, became a buffer too, preventing Belgian (military authorities) looking at the labourers as reservist forces for the army. • Organised its own newspaper. 65
  55. 55. Putting the Belgians to use • “The Belgians who will be employed at the Birtley National Projectile Factory may convently be grouped under three heads. • 1. The soldiers who are being withdrawn from the Belgian Army. • 2. The reformed soldiers who are being instructed by the Belgian Military Authorities in this country to work at Birtley. • 3. Belgian civilians who are being engaged in this country by the Birtley Management to work at Birtley.” 66
  56. 56. 67 Elisabethville, Birtley (Gateshead)
  57. 57. BR workers in Britain (16-05-13) 68
  58. 58. Birtley today
  59. 59. Belgian newspapers in exile • The Belgians also relied on an intricate spread of exile newspapers and journals. 70
  60. 60. 13.01.14, Vrijzinnig Ontmoetingscentrum, Hasselt
  61. 61. 13.01.14, Vrijzinnig Ontmoetingscentrum, Hasselt
  62. 62. 13.01.14, Vrijzinnig Ontmoetingscentrum, Hasselt
  63. 63. 74
  64. 64. Return / repatriation • The Repatriation Fund was established not long after the War Refugees Committee emerged. • Clearly, the war was going to be over soon. • Committees involved with repatriation initially, turned their focus of attention elsewhere. • Only by the end of 1917 first and mid-1918 do plans re-emerge. • In the meantime, Belgian architects have been trained in the garden city philosophy and the British government decided that priority should be with the return of soldiers. • Most Belgians accepted a return paid for by the British government, this happened mainly between January and March 1919. 75
  65. 65. Gratitude 78
  66. 66. History repeats itself • When the Germans invaded Belgium again in 1940, thousands of Belgians came to Britain once again, including Wales. • The Belgian government in exile subsequently established a military camp in Tenby, for instance, a seaside town where Belgians had lived during the First World War as well. • Fishermen went to Milford Haven again. • Twists in history: August-Edmond de Schrijver, who was taught at the Jesuit school of Barmouth, became a prominent Minister in the Belgian government in exile in London during the Second World War and ‘signed off’ the Congo in 1960, arguably the last time Belgians had become refugees. • And that’s just the Belgians. 82
  67. 67. And yet • Michael Morpurgo is the grandson of Emile Cammaerts, the Belgian who had come to London prior to the First World War, but who was instrumental in rallying continued support for Belgium in Britain. • Bloomsbury set: • Aldous Huxley • Lalla Vandervelde • E.M. Forster • Virginia Woolf 83
  68. 68. 84
  69. 69. 85
  70. 70. 86
  71. 71. So, where are they? • Well, you only need to ‘scratch the surface’ and there they are • However, misunderstandings and myths abound. This project aims to provide a visual undertaking, through which people • Can form an idea of the entire history • Can contribute their own story, should this be relevant or contain relevan information • Using digitised sources from archives and institutions in both Belgium, esp. Flanders, and Britain • Hoping to instigate family history journeys between Flanders and Britain
  72. 72. If you have any family story to tell, do you have any pictures that can help shed a more varied light on this history, please be in touch: c.declercq@ucl.ac.uk More information on http://www.belgianrefugees14-18.be/
  73. 73. Wales for Peace alongside Amsab-ISG (Ghent) • Striking iconographic material relevant to support a visual history of the Belgians in Britain during the First World War • Witness reports / testimonials • Support in cascading calls for material / testimonials • Material that helps • Myth busting • Support previously unsupported elements • Increased mutual exchanges • People who are interested in family history • People who are looking for the relatives of the host family • People who are looking for relatives of the guest family
  74. 74. 93
  75. 75. www.belgianrefugees14-18.be/index.php/activiteiten/pers/37- terug-naar-milford-haven
  76. 76. 95

×