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Sunday 5 July 2015

Lowick and District’s Response to the Belgian Refugees 1914 – 1915 - part 4

 This is a continuation of the Lowick and District’s Response to the Belgian Refugees 1914 – 1915 - part 3.
Alternatively, see all the previous parts of the Lowick and District’s Response to the Belgian Refugees 1914 – 1915, together.

It was performed as a "radio play" in Berwick Guildhall on 25 April 2015 at Discover Berwick’s First World War Story. Researched and written by Julie Gibbs.

Van der Meiren Family Tree
Frau Van der Meiren     
We lived not far from the church in Malines, and our house was right in the line of firing when bombardment commenced. Our address was 53 Horses-Cemetery- Street. I feel very sad telling you this, because we left behind two of our sons, and of their fate I am uncertain. Louis (23½) is in the Army, but Alphonse (22) – Ah, I know “nichts”. I have a faint hope that he might have been taken for the Army too, though ordinarily as he was one of four sons he would not have been called on for military service. Ah it is hard, hard, when you get them up to 20 and then lose them!
The Van Puyenbroeck family in November 1918

My neighbour, Mijnheer Van Puyenbroeck, was a sawyer. One of the few things he saved from his house was a silver and enamel Medal which the week before War broke- out, he received from the King. It was a medal not for military service, but for 25 years faithful service with one employer. The ribbon is in the Belgian colours.

His wife can tell terrible stories of the German atrocities and the terrible damage wrought in our Church. From Mechelen, they went to a place near Termonde where her brother had a piece of land, but there they could not stay long for the Germans used this land for trenches. At Termonde, we Belgians blew up a bridge; a large portion of it still remained on the far side and she saw a score of Germans perish there.

Another story she told, illustrated how we suffered from spies. In Mechelen, was a painter who was employed in work on the public buildings. Suspicions were aroused regarding him, and it was found he was a spy in German pay. He tried to escape but was caught, and a roll of German paper-money was found down his stocking-legs. Further investigations in his house revealed the fact that both of his sons had incriminating documents in their possession. All three were promptly taken out and shot!

His daughter is away at Lowick nursing a fellow country-woman there, who was at death’s door with pneumonia, but has now happily got the turn. She was employed in one of the famous Mechelen lace factories. She is a clever needlewoman, and it is hoped that some home- work in the way of embroidery and the like, may be found for her.

Mr Boal    
(to audience) Are you listening Border women?
(To Frau Van Der Meiren) I know that you are all very eager for news of the War in Belgium; I can tell you little that is cheering, but Britain is but a small country itself, and all its great Colonies are sending help. It may be one month or two months, one year or two years, but the Germans have got to go down!

 Dank uvel! Vaarwel! (Goodbye)Frau Van Der Meiren. 

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