|Hortense Daman Clews|
|Born||12 August 1926
|Died||18 December 2006 (aged 80)
Newcastle-under-Lyme, United Kingdom
|Years of service||1940-1945|
|Awards||Croix de Guerre,
Order of Leopold II,
Medal of the Armed Resistance 1940-1945
World War II
She became involved in the Belgian Resistance when she was 13 after the Nazis had invaded Belgium in 1940. She began helping her brother François after he returned home after being a prisoner of war with his work with the Resistance and helping British servicemen evade capture. She mainly worked as a courier which involved carrying messages, explosives and weapons beneath the upper layer in her cycle pannier whilst pretending to be carrying out grocery deliveries for her mother.
Betrayal and arrest
On the 14 February 1944, the Gestapo raided the family home after someone informed on the family's resistance work. Hortense was arrested along with her parents, and they were taken to a local prison where they suffered interrogation and vicious beatings by the Gestapo and Belgian SS. She was sentenced to death without trial and moved to the Ravensbrück concentration camp in Germany with her mother; her father was sent to Buchenwald concentration camp.
Concentration camp inmate
At the end of the war, Hortense and her mother were taken under the protection of the Swedish Red Cross and reunited with her father and her brother.
In 1946, she met and married Sydney Clews who was a Staff Sergeant in the British Army; and they eventually settled in Newcastle-under-Lyme in Staffordshire. Sixteen years later, despite the experiments that had been carried out at Ravensbrück, she gave birth to daughter Julia and, seven years later, son Christopher.
A Child at War: Hortense Daman. Bles M ISBN 978-0-7515-0460-6
- Find A Grave - Hortense Daman Clews (website accessed:09/09/2010)
- Times Online, January 30, 2007 - Hortense Clews, Belgian Resistance courier who was captured by the SS but survived the cruelties of Ravensbröck concentration camp (Obituary retrieved:09/09/2010)
- BBC Radio Stoke, 11/03/2008 - War Stories, Hortense Clews was a heroine from the Belgian Resistance during World War Two. After the war, she settled in Staffordshire after marrying a local soldier (retrieved:09/09/2010)
- Special Forces Roll Of Honour - Belgian Secret Agents (website accessed:10/09/2010)
- The Free Library -Violette: A secret story of wartime bravery; BRITISH AGENT TORTURED AND KILLED AT THE AGE OF 23(website accessed: 09/09/2010)