Great War Centenary

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Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   Text © Copyright July 2016, John M; licensed for re-use under a Creative Commons Licence.
Images also under a similar Creative Commons Licence.


Belgian Refugees

Around 200000 Belgian citizens fled to Britain at the start of the war including most of the fishing fleet. The refugees were dispersed throughout the country with some larger communities established to work in armament production. After the armistice they were rapidly repatriated with most leaving by the summer of 1919 and their presence is only marked by an odd memorial or gravestone. Their contribution, particularly to armament production where 30000 were engaged, is barely noted.

TR2235 : Folkestone - 2014 by Helmut Zozmann TR2335 : Rug People 2011  the former Folkestone Harbour Station by John Baker
One of the main entry ports was Folkestone. Within a month of the start of the war 18000 refugees had arrived rising to over 100000 within months with 15000 settling in the town.

Other south coast ports also received refugees such as Teignmouth which is commemorated with an urn - see Token of Thanks below.

Refugee billets

SH7782 : The Grand Ash Hotel by Richard Hoare SH7782 : York House, York Road, Llandudno by Richard Hoare Llandudno SH6875 : Benarth House, Llanfairfechan by Richard Hoare Llanfairfechan
SH5572 : Nant Terrace, Menai Bridge by Richard Hoare Menai Bridge
SE4805 : Hickleton Hall by JThomas SE5703 : Doncaster Mansion House by David Anstiss Doncaster

Token of thanks and memorials

SH5571 : Menai Suspension Bridge and Belgian Promenade by David Dixon Menai Bridge - Belgian Promenade

SX9472 : Ornamental urn by the Den, Teignmouth by Robin Stott Teignmouth
'A tribute of gratitude from the Belgian refugees, 1914-18'

SK9804 : Belgian Refugees' Commemorative stone, 58 High Street by Alan Murray-Rust Ketton

NS4763 : To the memory of those Belgians who, driven from their native land in the Great War to Paisley by david cameron photographer Paisley
'To the memory of those Belgians who, driven from their native land in the Great War, found a refuge in the loving hearts of the people of Paisley and then a surer refuge with God.'

SM9005 : Belgian obelisk,  Milford Haven by Jaggery Milford Haven
'Erected by the 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.'


TF0836 : St. Peter ad Vincula, Altar, Piscina, and Aumbry by Bob Harvey TF2422 : Spalding Gentlemen's Society - Cartouche by Bob Harvey Lincolnshire

SH7234 : Y Gadair Ddu by Alan Fryer SH7234 : Y Gadair Ddu by Alan Fryer Yr Ysgwyrn, Gwynedd
The 'Black chair' of shepherd poet Hedd Wyn posthumously awarded at the 1917 Eisteddfod in Liverpool was the work of Flemish craftsman, Eugeen Vanfleteren (1880-1950), a carpenter born in Mechelen, Belgium, who had fled to England on the outbreak of war and had settled in Birkenhead.

SU8977 : The Belgian Arms, Holyport by Len Williams The Belgian Arms, Holyport, Berkshire was re-named from The Eagle during the Great War as German prisoners of war held nearby would salute the former pub sign.

TL2572 : King of the Belgians, Hartford by Stephen McKay The King of the Belgians, Hartford, Huntingdon, was re-named during the Great War from The King of Prussia.


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