Belgian refugees

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Following the creation of Belgium as a nation state, Belgian people have sought refuge abroad on several occasions. From the early days of independence and the threat of The Netherlands or France, to two World Wars and the Independence of Congo, Belgians have been on the run themselves, for various reasons, as refugees.

Before 1914[edit]

Little England beyond Wales (12th c.)[edit]

Part of south Pembrokeshire is sometimes referred to still as 'Little England beyond Wales'. Although Saxons were among the first foreign settlers there, steering the language, quite a few Flemish arrived too. They came after the Norman Conquest. William of Normandy had been married to Mathilda, princess of Flanders and quite a number of Flemish nobles and soldiers had joined William in 1066. Henry I allowed a large number of Flemings to settle across England and Wales, including south Pembrokeshire. This systematic planting of Flemish settlers by Henry I had significant consequences for the people of south Pembrokeshire. Henry II equally sent Flemish people, mainly soldiers and mercenaries, to Pembrokeshire, but to a large extent this operation was driven by the desire to have the warmongering Flemish (the 'Flemish wolves') out of his way.[2] As an increasing number of 'foreigners' settled, the original inhabitants were driven away. It has been called a "process of ethnical cleansing". [3] The Flemish showed a real zest for settling elsewhere, discarding the social fabric that was in place: they were "a brave and robust people, but very hostile to the Welsh and in a perpetual state of conflict with them". [1] The Normans and the Flemish built a line of over 50 castles - most of them earthworks - to protect south Pembrokeshire. This line of castles is known as the Landsker (old Norse for 'divide') and stretched from Newgale on the west coast to Amroth on the south east coast. In Tenby, a castle and a church was erected for the Flemish colonists. The Flemish were experts in the woollen trade, and this flourished in the area. [4] Although the initial planting of Flemish was a move by Norman rulers, the influx of Flemings into south Pembrokeshire appeared to be so significant that the Welsh language there was heavily affected and that Flemish allowed for English to become the dominant language in the region. The Landsker line represented a divide in language and custom in Pembrokeshire that remains tangible until today. Until recently, intermarriage between the cultures north or south of the divide had been discouraged: those from the north were Non-conformist, and those from the south were mainly Catholic and Anglican.

Lace-making in Germany (16th c.)[edit]

Annaberg-Buchholz (German pronunciation: [ˈanabɛɐ̯k ˈbuːx.hɔlts] (About this soundlisten)) is a town in the Free State of Saxony, Germany, in the Ore Mountains, and is the capital of the district of Erzgebirgskreis. Annaberg, together with the neighbouring suburb, Buchholz, is the chief seat of the braid- and lace-making industry in Germany, introduced here by Barbara Uthmann in 1561, and further developed by Belgian refugees, who, driven from their country by the Duke of Alva, settled here in 1590.[citation needed]

First World War[edit]

Belgian refugees in 1914

When Germany invaded Belgium on 4 August 1914, after the Belgian authorities had denied German forces free passage through Belgium on their way to Paris, Britain declared war on Germany. This was a direct result of the London Treaty of 1830 (which had been recognised by the Netherlands only in 1839).


"Britannia with Belgian Refugees" (1916) by Belgian painter André Cluysenaar

Because archive material of the hundreds of local Belgian refugee committees is scant and incomplete and because systems of registration were not watertight (nor did they run from the very start of the conflict), it is very difficult to estimate the number of Belgians that sought refuge in Britain during World War I. Estimates vary between 225,000 and 265,000. The estimation does not include the roughly 150,000 Belgian soldiers that took leave in Britain at some point during the war, and an additional 25,000 wounded Belgian soldiers convalescing in Britain. The fullest account is given in Belgian Refugee Relief in England during the Great War by Peter Calahan (Garland Publishing, New York and London, 1982).


  • Millfield Theatre opened in 1988 in the grounds of Millfield House on Silver Street in Edmonton, North London. Millfield House is first mentioned in 1796 when it belonged to John Wigston of Trent Park. Later that year it was let to the Imperial Ambassador of the German Empire. The house was sold in 1849 to the Strand Union Guardians for a school for London workhouse children, and over the next 40 years several extensions were made to the house which by 1897 housed 400 children. The school was partly self- sufficient complete with two meadows, cultivated land and a herd of cows and some pigs. The children were taught trades; the boys, tailoring, shoe making and carpentry; the girls, housework, needlework and laundering. In 1913 the school closed and by the beginning of World War I housed Belgian refugees. The house was converted into the St Davids Hospital for Epileptics in 1915 by the Metropolitan Asylums Board. By 1971 the house was acquired by the London Borough of Enfield, who renovated and demolished some of the work house buildings, although a lodge and outbuildings from that period remain as well as an early 20th-century lodge.
  • The district of Stoke Heath, Coventry was built up between 1900 and 1920 and was closely tied into the need for munitions workers during the First World War and the Anglo-German rivalry preceding it. During the First World War, Stoke Heath played host to a significant population of Belgian refugees. The area was dominated by the popular red brick Stoke Heath Junior & Infants School, built at the end of 1915. The school provided a central focus for the original 689 homes built by 1915. The school was demolished in the 1990s and a new school erected on the same site.
  • Dartford is the principal town in the Borough of Dartford, Kent. The demand created by World War I meant that output at the local Vickers factory multiplied, with a positive effect on the local economy. Burroughs-Wellcome chemical works (later incorporated into GlaxoSmithKline) made Dartford a centre for the pharmaceutical industry. During the war, many Belgian refugees arrived in the town. Unable to accommodate them all, many people were housed with volunteers.
  • The Porch House, is a large Georgian house, dating from the late 18th century, in Nantwich, Cheshire, England. Currently divided into two houses, the Porch House has previously served as a day and boarding school. During the First World War it housed refugees from Belgium, leading to the house being popularly called "Belgium House".
  • In the First World War the town of Folkestone in Kent became host to some 65,000 Belgian refugees fleeing the conflict. Shorncliffe Camp served as a training camp for thousands of recruits in training, and the port was the main embarkation point for soldiers leaving to fight in the trenches of France and Belgium. Whole blocks of houses, hotels and other buildings were commandeered for the hundreds of thousands of soldiers, including many Canadian troops. They marched through the town to the harbour along the route now called the "Road of Remembrance".
  • The Haven Hotel is an AA four star hotel in Sandbanks, near Poole, Dorset on the south coast of England. Guglielmo Marconi established a wireless transmitter at The Haven Hotel in 1899, and carried out some of his first wireless telegraphy experiments from the hotel.[2] Other notable guests include Robert Browning and John Major. The Haven Hotel housed Belgian refugees during the First World War and was a military contact point during the Second World War, and was at one stage a Naval detachment. In 1976, The Haven Hotel was purchased by the hotel chain, FJB Collection.
  • The Spalding Gentlemen's Society, a learned society in Spalding, Lincolnshire was founded in 1710 by Maurice Johnson (1688–1755) of Ayscoughfee Hall and is still active today. The Society's museum on Broad Street, Spalding, opened in 1911 with extensions in 1925 and in 1960.[3] The carved panels on the exterior are crafted by Jules Tuerlinckx, a Belgian refugee from Malines during the First World War.
  • The name Rhyd-y-gors or Rhydygors has been associated with two historic sites near the market town of Carmarthen in Southwest Wales. The first was the Norman Rhyd-y-gors Castle and the other was Rhyd-y-gors Mansion, home of the Edwardes family. In 1911, Rhyd-y-gors changed ownership, other than by inheritance, for the first time. The house was occupied by various tenants, including housing Belgian refugees during World War I. It was then occupied until about 1960, after which it became ruinous and was demolished in 1971[4] by the commercial firm who owned the estate, and had built a creamery on the front portion of the land.
  • Royton is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham, in Greater Manchester, England.[5] During World War I, Royton Hall was used to house Belgian refugees.
  • Spier's school, at Beith, in North Ayrshire, Scotland, NS 35355327, KA15 1LU, was opened in 1888 and closed in 1972. The school, now demolished, was built using Ballochmyle red sandstone and was reminiscent of the ancient Glasgow University. The school had an unofficial cadet corps in 1914 and donated money to the Belgian Refugee Fund in 1915 and it also endowed a hospital bed in 1918.
  • London. Alexandra Palace and Earls Court exhibition buildings. In September 1914 the Metropolitan Asylums Board, which had overall responsibility for incoming refugees in London, took over the two large buildings to provide beds for Belgian refugees. By October 1914 MAB was maintaining about 8,000 beds there as well as another 4,000 elsewhere in London.[6]
  • Somerset. Norton House, Midsomer Norton a now-demolished Georgian mansion, housed Belgian refugees during World War 1.[7]
  • The county of Shropshire hosted over 400 refugees from September 1914 onwards, the majority living in the parish of Atcham, and many at Cound Hall owned by the McCorquadale family.

Notable people[edit]

  • Leopold III (1901-1983) reigned as King of the Belgians from 1934 until 1951, when he abdicated in favour of the heir apparent, his son Baudouin. As a prince, Leopold, Duke of Brabant, fought as a private during World War I with the 12th Belgian Regiment while still a teenager, but was sent by his father to Eton College in the United Kingdom, in 1915. After the war, in 1919, the Duke visited the Old Mission and Saint Anthony Seminary in Santa Barbara, California.
  • Walter Hume Long, 1st Viscount Long PC, FRS, JP (13 July 1854 – 26 September 1924), was a British Unionist politician. In a political career spanning over 40 years, he held office as President of the Board of Agriculture, President of the Local Government Board, Chief Secretary for Ireland, Secretary of State for the Colonies and First Lord of the Admiralty. He is also remembered for his links with Irish Unionism and served as Leader of the Irish Unionist Party in the House of Commons from 1905 to 1910. With the formation of the wartime coalition government in May 1915, Long returned to office at the Local Government Board, and there dealt with the plight of thousands of Belgian refugees.
  • Sir James Macklin, DL, JP (1864 - 1944) was an English jeweller and farmer, active in public life in Wiltshire. Macklin served six successive terms as Mayor of Salisbury, commencing in November 1913, and coming to an end in 1919. His incumbency of the office coincided with the First World War. Macklin was married in 1890[8] to Barbara Emily Main, the daughter of George John Masters Main and his wife, Emily Mariah (née Hayter). She was born in 1870.[9] She was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1919 for work among Colonial and British troops during the First World War and was awarded the Golden Palms of the Order of the Crown, by the King of the Belgians in 1921 for work among Belgian refugees during the same conflict.[10] She died in Salisbury on 19 November 1960.
  • Sir Ernest Frederic George Hatch, 1st Baronet (1859- 1927) was a British politician. The son of John William Hatch of London and Matilda Augusta Snell of Callington, Cornwall, Hatch was an MP for Gorton until 1904. After he disagreed with Joseph Chamberlain over free trade he crossed the floor to the Liberal Party.[11] In 1908 he was created a baronet, "of Portland Place, in the Metropolitan Borough of St Marylebone".[12] He was appointed chairman and treasurer of University College Hospital, London During the First World War he chaired the Government Commission on Belgian Refugees, and was made a commander of the Belgian Order of the Crown.
  • Violet Florence Mabel Mond, Baroness Melchett, DBE (1867 – 1945), née Goetze, was a British humanitarian and activist. She was the sister of the painter and sculptor Sigismund Goetze. In 1894 she married the businessman and politician Alfred Mond, who had been introduced to her by her brother. She was an active political hostess and worker, first for the Liberal Party and then, after her husband changed allegiance in 1928, for the Conservative Party. She worked hard to promote her husband's political career and used her influence with David Lloyd George to secure Mond's appointment to ministerial office in December 1916. As First Commissioner of Public Works, Mond proposed the idea of a national war museum in February 1917. Lady Mond wished to play an active part in the success of this venture. As a member of the Women's Work Sub-Committee, Lady Mond was asked to undertake the gathering of information on home hospitals. She appears to have been very diligent. In the autumn of 1914, Sir Alfred Mond had enthusiastically supported a scheme proposed by Herbert J. Paterson for a hospital for officers. Reportedly, Mond took only two minutes to give the idea his assent and financial backing, and the Queen Alexandra's Hospital for Officers at Highgate was established. The hospital received nine hundred of the worst cases, and its reputation and record were both noble and happy. Original surgical treatments were evolved and many officers owe the full use of their limbs to the care in convalescence at Melchet Court. Violet Mond herself had turned her country home, Melchet Court, Hampshire, into a sixty-bed convalescent hospital, and opened her London home to Belgian refugees. For these services she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 1920 Birthday Honours.
  • Jef Denyn (1862–1941) was a carillon player from Mechelen. In 1922, he founded the world's first and most renowned international higher institute of campanology, later named after him, the Royal Carillon School "Jef Denyn" in Mechelen. During the First World War, he, his wife Helene, son and four daughters were among those Belgian refugees who fled to England. The Denyn family were taken in by organist and musicologist William Wooding Starmer in his house in Tunbridge Wells.
  • Dame Elizabeth Mary Cadbury, DBE (née Taylor; 1858 – 1951), was an English philanthropist and wife of George Cadbury, the chocolate manufacturer. She and her husband played a great role in the development of Bournville and opened the 200th house there herself. In 1909 she opened the Woodland Hospital, which became the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital. She also built The Beeches, to provide holidays for slum children. Throughout her life she campaigned for the education and welfare of women as a convinced but non-militant suffragist.[13] An active pacifist she was the first chair of the Peace and International Relations Committee of the National Council of Women, established in 1914. In 1916 she was elected to the National Peace Council, becoming its treasurer and then its vice-president. Along with Lady Aberdeen, Millicent Fawcett, and Mrs Corbett Ashby, she pressed for the inclusion of women's issues in the agenda of the Congress of Versailles. She was an energetic supporter of the League of Nations Union. During the Second World War, she worked with Belgian refugees, and after that war continued her efforts with the International Council of Women.[14]
  • Sir Frederick Whitley Thomson (2 September 1851 – 26 May 1924), was a British Liberal Party politician and businessman. In 1908 He was appointed as an Alderman of Halifax Borough Council and served as the Mayor of Halifax from 1908-11. He was Chairman of the Finance Committee of Halifax Borough Council from 1913–19. He was Chairman of Halifax War Refugees Committee, and received from King Albert I of Belgium the Medaille du Roi in recognition of services to Belgian refugees, resident in Halifax and district during the Great War.[15]
  • Sir Charles Santley (28 February 1834 – 22 September 1922) was an English-born opera and oratorio star with a bravurato show off. A florid, ostentatious style or a passage of music requiring technical skill technique who became the most eminent English baritone and male concert singer of the Victorian era. His has been called 'the longest, most distinguished and most versatile vocal career which history records.'[16] Even though he made his Covent Garden farewell in 1911 he performed again in 1915, at the request of London's Lady Mayoress, when he sang at the Mansion House concert for Belgian refugees, when the accurate intonation, fine quality and vigour of his voice were still apparent.
  • Mary Adela Blagg (1858-1944) was an English astronomer who during her life did a lot of volunteer work, including caring for Belgian refugee children during World War I.
  • Herbert Pa[17] Austin, 1st Baron Austin KBE (1866-1941) was an English automobile designer and builder who founded the Austin Motor Company. For the majority of his career, he was known as Sir Herbert Austin, and the new Northfield bypass is called "Sir Herbert Austin Way" after him. The company turned its resources to the war effort in 1914 and, in 1917, Austin was knighted for his services and also received the Belgium Order of the Crown of Leopold II, for the employment of 3,000 Belgian refugees at Longbridge.[18]
  • Annie Shepherd Swan (1859-1943) was a Scottish journalist, novelist and story writer. She used her maiden name for most of her literary career, but also wrote as David Lyall and later Mrs Burnett Smith. She was a popular writer of romantic fiction for young women during the Victorian era and published more than 200 novels, serials, short stories and other fiction between 1878 and her death in 1943.[19][20][21][22] During the First World War, Swan resigned her editorial position and volunteered for the British war effort. During the First World War she went to France on a morale-boosting tour and also worked with Belgian refugees.
  • Sir (Thomas) Duncombe Mann (1857-1949) was a barrister and Clerk to the Metropolitan Asylums Board from 1891 - 1923. As such he had overall responsibility for all incoming refugees, mainly Belgians, during the World War I.[23] Officer, Order of Leopold. National Portrait Gallery 42192-42195.[24]

Archive material[edit]

  • The Falkirk Herald is a weekly newspaper and daily news website published by Johnston Press. It provides reportage, opinion and analysis of current affairs in the towns of Falkirk, Grangemouth, Larbert and Denny as well as the neighbouring villages of Polmont, Redding and Bonnybridge. The paper's circulation area has a total population of 151,600, the fifth largest urban area in Scotland. A fundraising drive on behalf of Belgian refugees from the First World War earned a formal thank you from the King of Belgium.


Because of the tension present already before the First World War and reaching a turning point with the Easter Rising, it is difficult to have Ireland listed here as part of Britain, or not. Given the fact that the story of Belgians in Ireland during the war was a rather different one to those in Britain, not least because the major difference in numbers, Ireland is retained as a separate entity here.

  • Dunshaughlin (Irish: Dún Seachlainn (Seachlann's fort))[25] or locally Irish: Domhnach Seachnaill (St Seachnall's Church)[26] is a town in County Meath, Ireland. In the post-famine years, the workhouse rarely had more than a few dozen inmates. During the First World War, the building was used to accommodate Belgian refugees, some of whom died there and were buried in the paupers' graveyard. In 1920-21, the building was taken over as a barracks by the Black and Tans during the Irish War of Independence.


Edith Wharton (/ˈdɪθ ˈwɔːrtən/; born Edith Newbold Jones; January 24, 1862 – August 11, 1937) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, short story writer, and designer. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1927, 1928 and 1930.[27] Wharton combined her insider's view of America's privileged classes with a brilliant, natural wit to write humorous, incisive novels and short stories of social and psychological insight. She was well acquainted with many of her era's other literary and public figures, including Theodore Roosevelt. Helped by her influential connections to the French government, primarily through Walter Berry (then president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Paris), she was one of the few foreigners in France allowed to travel to the front lines during the First World War. Wharton described those trips in the series of articles Fighting France: From Dunkerque to Belfort. Throughout the war she worked tirelessly in charitable efforts for refugees and, in 1916 was named a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in recognition of her commitment to the displaced. The scope of her relief work included setting up workrooms for unemployed Frenchwomen, organizing concerts to provide work for musicians, opening tuberculosis hospitals and founding the American Hostels for Belgian refugees. In 1916 Wharton edited The Book of the Homeless, composed of writings, art, erotica and musical scores by almost every major contemporary European artist. When World War I ended in 1918 she abandoned her fashionable urban address for the delights of the country at the Pavillon Colombe in nearby Saint-Brice-sous-Forêt.

The Netherlands[edit]

  • Uden is a municipality and a town in the province of North Brabant, Netherlands. After the peace of Munster in 1648, Uden remained outside the Dutch Republic and was a haven of religious tolerance for Catholics from the nearby towns of Veghel, Nistelrode and Erp, who build their churches on the municipality its borders. During World War I (in which the Netherlands stayed neutral) North Brabant was inundated by Belgian refugees. A refugee camp was erected at Vluchtoord in Uden, which housed several thousand Flemish refugees until 1918.
  • Simon Berman (April 24, 1861 – October 19, 1934) was the mayor of Kwadijk, Middelie, Warder, Schagen, Bedum, and Alblasserdam in the Netherlands. He was the first mayor of Kwadijk, Middelie, and Warder to actually live in one of those villages.[28] As mayor of Schagen, he handled a double murder case that drew national media attention and advanced a professional school and regional light rail. In Alblasserdam, he addressed the local impacts of World War I. Shortly after Berman was installed in 1914 as Mayor of Alblasserdam, World War I started. While the Netherlands remained neutral, local government of Alblasserdam and its mayor kept busy with such impacts as 60 Belgian refugees within the municipal boundaries. An ad-hoc municipal fund for the unemployed was established.


  • Lou Henry Hoover (1874–1944) was the wife of President of the United States Herbert Hoover and served as First Lady from 1929 to 1933. During World War I, she assisted her husband in providing relief for Belgian refugees. For her work she was decorated in 1919 by King Albert.

Interwar years[edit]

On 12 October 1920, a memorial was unveiled at Victoria Embankment Gardens. A statue by the Belgian sculptor Victor Rousseau was given to the British nation.[29] Belgium was represented by Princess Clementine of Belgium, several members of the Royal Family and the Belgian Prime Minister Delacroix.[30] The memorial is proof of Belgian gratitude to the people of Britain who had accommodated the Belgians so well during WW1. Representing the British nation was Lord Curzon, the then Foreign Secretary and friend of the Belgian King Albert.

Otto and Ernst Schiff, who had been instrumental in accommodating the Belgian refugees of Jewish origin, became crucial in the reception and accommodation of German exiles in Britain during the latter half of the 1930s.

Second World War[edit]

Belgian refugee children eating bread and jam, London, 1940

The invasion of Belgium by Nazi Germany started on 10 May 1940 under the codename Fall Gelb ("Case Yellow") as part of the wider invasion of France, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Belgian refugees in 1940

The German invasion triggered a panic amongst Belgian civilians in the path of the advancing German army. By 11 May, the roads leading westwards, away from the fighting, were blocked by refugees, hampering the eastward advance of French and British forces.[31] It is estimated that around two million civilians fled their homes during the campaign.[32] Eventually, the Belgian military held out against German forces for 18 days, against overwhelming odds. On 28 May, forced into a small pocket along the Leie river and after failed attempts to broker a ceasefire on the 27th, the Belgian king and military surrendered unconditionally.[33]

Belgian casualties during the campaign numbered some 6,000 killed[34] and 15,850 wounded.[35][36] Some 112,500 French and Belgian troops escaped to England via Dunkirk[37] but the majority of the Belgian survivors were made prisoners of war and many were not released until the end of the war. Belgian soldiers served in the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, serving in Belgian-only units as well as in majority-British units. Soldiers from the Belgian Congo fought on the Allied side against the Italians in East Africa.

With the surrender of the Belgian army, the government, led by Hubert Pierlot, fled first to Paris and formed a government in exile in Bordeaux. With the Fall of France, the government transferred to Eaton Square, London.[38] Unlike in the First World War, when most members of government fled to Le Havre, France, the King stayed in unoccupied Belgium and some other politicians stayed in Britain or the Netherlands, most political leaders sought refuge in London in May 1940. In fact, the Belgian government continued in exile.

In 1940 one of the most pressing concerns facing the Belgian government in exile in London was the situation of Belgian refugees in the United Kingdom. By 1940, at least 15,000 Belgian civilians had arrived in the United Kingdom. Most of them hardly had the chance to take any of their possessions with them.[39] The refugees had originally been dealt with by the British government and in September 1940, pretty much like in December 1914, a Central Service of Refugees was established to provide them with material assistance and to organise employment for Belgians in Britain.[40] More than a century earlier the Battle of Waterloo had originated a cliché among the British that 'the Belgians ran away at Waterloo'. In the First World War mixed feelings had grown in Britain concerning the Belgian refugee men in Britain that did not join the Belgian army. In 1940 the British public in 1940 was even more sceptical, if not outright hostile to Belgian refugees. The common perception was that Belgium had betrayed the Allies in 1940.[41] A British Mass Observation report noted a "growing feeling against Belgian refugees" in the United Kingdom,[42] closely linked to Leopold III's decision to surrender.[43] The Belgian government in exile was also thoroughly involved in the provision of social, educational and cultural institutions to Belgian refugees. In 1942, the Belgian authorities in London sponsored the creation of the Belgian Institute in London to entertain the Belgian refugee community in London.[44] By 1943, there were also four Belgian schools in Britain with 330 pupils between them, in Penrith, Braemar, Kingston and Buxton.[45] The former St Margaret of Antioch's Church building is situated on Cardigan Road, Headingley, West Yorkshire, England, near Burley Park railway station. It is an example of Late Gothic Revival church architecture, and it was built in the first few years of the twentieth century, being consecrated in 1909. It was built in the Parish of Burley to serve the population of the newly built red-brick terrace houses in the area, part of the late Victorian expansion of Leeds.[46] During the 1940s to the 1960s, the church played host to the Orthodox Liturgy and Communion in Slovak, the Polish Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile, as well renting a local house for Belgian refugees during the First World War.

Years after retirement and at the age of 73, Sir William Haldane Porter, a British civil servant who was responsible for the creation of the Aliens Branch of the Home Office (now the UK Immigration Service), was called back to service to supervise the reception of French and Belgian refugees fleeing in 1940 into British channel ports from their occupied countries.[47] For his services Porter was made an officer of the Order of Leopold of Belgium.

After Leopold's surrender, the British press denounced him as "Traitor King" and "King Rat"; the Daily Mirror published a picture of Leopold with the headline "The Face That Every Woman Now Despises'". A group of Belgian refugees in Paris placed a message at King Albert's statue denouncing his son as "your unworthy successor".[48]


Cultural resonance of Belgian refugees[edit]

  • Christian René, viscount de Duve (1917 – 2013)[49] was a Nobel Prize-winning Belgian cytologist and biochemist. He was born in Thames Ditton, Surrey, Great Britain, of an estate agent Alphonse de Duve and wife Madeleine Pungs, Belgian refugees during the First World War.[50] They returned to Belgium in 1920.
  • The Mysterious Affair at Styles is a detective novel by Agatha Christie. It was written during the War in 1916, and first published by John Lane in the United States in October 1920[51] and in the United Kingdom by The Bodley Head (John Lane's UK company) on 21 January 1921.[52] Styles was Christie's first published novel, introducing Hercule Poirot, Inspector (later, Chief Inspector) Japp, and Arthur Hastings.[53] Poirot, a Belgian refugee of the Great War, is settling in England near the home of Emily Cavendish, who helped him to his new life. His friend Hastings arrives as a guest at her home. When the woman is killed, Poirot uses his detective skills to solve the mystery. This is also the setting of Curtain, Poirot's last case.
  • Keith Monin Stainton (1921 – 2001) was a British Conservative politician and World War II hero in France. Keith Stainton was born in Kendal, Westmorland, the son of a Kendal butcher and a Belgian refugee his father had met during the First World War.
  • Ruth Ellis (9 October 1926—13 July 1955) was the last woman to be executed in the United Kingdom, after being convicted of the murder of her lover (1955), David Blakely. She was hanged at Holloway Prison, London, by Albert Pierrepoint. Ellis was born in the Welsh seaside town of Rhyl, the third of six children. During her childhood her family moved to Basingstoke. Her mother, Elisaberta (Bertha) Cothals, was a Belgian refugee; her father, Arthur Hornby, was a cellist from Manchester who spent much of his time playing on Atlantic cruise liners.
  • The Duchess Of Duke Street is a BBC television drama series set in London between 1900 and 1925. It was created by John Hawkesworth, the former producer of the highly successful ITV period drama Upstairs, Downstairs. It starred Gemma Jones as Louisa Leyton/Trotter, the eponymous "Duchess" who works her way up from servant to renowned cook to proprietrix of the upper-class Bentinck Hotel in Duke Street, St. James's, in London. The story is loosely based on the real-life career of Rosa Lewis (née Ovenden), the "Duchess of Jermyn Street", who ran the Cavendish Hotel in London. The programme lasted for two series totalling 31 episodes, shown between 1976 and 1977. It was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Limited Series in 1980. The theme music was composed by Alexander Faris.[54] In the episode Your Country Needs You a Belgian refugee features. When Great Britain enters the First World War, Louisa is ultra-patriotic, until Charlie joins the Coldstream Guards. The Major returns to active duty. In exchange for getting Starr reinstated in the Army (while a sergeant in the Sudan Campaign, he caught his young wife with another soldier, and was imprisoned and dishonourably discharged for his subsequent actions), the Major gets Louisa to hire Gaspard, a Belgian refugee.
  • The ABC Murders[55] was a BBC television drama based on the book by Agatha Christie and first shown in December 2018. It starred John Malkovich as Hercule Poirot. A plot line not present in the original book gave additional information about the Poirot's experiences at the start of WW1, and the drama played on Poirot's status as a refugee in Britain.


  1. ^ Gerald of Wales, The Journey through Wales and the Description of Wales, trans. by Lewis Thorpe, (London, 1978), 141-142.
  2. ^ My Father, Marconi, Degan Marconi, Guernica Editions, 1996, ISBN 1-55071-044-3 Google Books, retrieved 3 August 2008
  3. ^ "Museum". Retrieved 2014-03-08.
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ Greater Manchester Gazetteer, Greater Manchester County Record Office, Places names – O to R, archived from the original on 18 July 2011, retrieved 17 June 2008
  6. ^ Ayers, Gwendoline M. 'England's First State Hospitals 1867-1930.' London. Welcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine 1971. ISBN 0854840060.
  7. ^ Official signpost in place at the Silver Street Nature reserve
  8. ^ Marriage registered in Alderbury Registration District in the third quarter of 1890.
  9. ^ Birth registered in Alderbury Registration District in the second quarter of 1870.
  10. ^ The Ladies Who's Who (1930), p. 426.
  11. ^ P F Clarke, Lancashire and the New Liberalism, Cambridge, 2007
  12. ^ "No. 28200". The London Gazette. 1908-11-27. p. 9026.
  13. ^ "Elizabeth Taylor Cadbury « Women's History Network Blog". Retrieved 2014-03-08.
  14. ^ Sara Delamont, Dame Elizabeth Mary Cadbury in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online; OUP 2004-12
  15. ^ "Who's Who". Retrieved 2014-03-08.
  16. ^ Arthur Eaglefield-Hull, A Dictionary of Modern Music and Musicians (Dent, London 1924), 435.
  17. ^ Roy A Church, Herbert Austin: the British Motor Car Industry to 1941, Europa, London, 1979 ISBN 9780905118291 "the father figure of "Pa" Austin was at the top and what he said was law."
  18. ^ Lambert (1968), Appendix 3
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