Random findings in the Belgian Archives

While tidying up my research notes from the last 8 years I came across some jottings from my very first visit to the National Archives in Brussels back in 2008.  They give a little glimpse of the sorts of challenges these refugees from war – indeed all refugees from war in their own way – come up against.

These are from the Archives of the Belgian Consulate in Folkestone [1]


Four families arrived in Ostend and registered their baggage for Folkestone.  Only one of the families managed to get on to the boat.  The other three tried in vain to leave and then went to Flushing [in Holland]  to see if they could get a boat for England there.  In the end they took lodgings in Flushing.  Their luggage was in Folkestone.  They did’t know where their friends were.  Their friends wouldn’t know where they were.

Please could someone help them get their luggage back?


A Belgian man had decided to set up a glove factory in London and he needed glove cutters who could cut the Belgian gloves he wanted to make.

English workers were no good as they could only cut English gloves…


The only specific mention of Tunbridge Wells I found on that occasion was a letter from a M. Joseph WILLEMS, Professor from the University of Liege, now living at 6 Lyndhurst Gardens, St John’s Road, Tunbridge Wells, with his wife and five children.  Their six pieces of luggage had not arrived from Ostend.

His letter was noted, but there is no mention that the luggage turned up…


Finally, there was a letter from a Belgian living in London asking for help in finding his wife – she had remained in Brussels and he had heard from her mother that she had gone missing.  She had been intending to join him in England – perhaps she had been arrested?

A pencilled note on the letter stated bluntly that she had been arrested and shot.

2016-08-02-18-23-17-cropped
Monument on the Embankment, London

[1] Archives de la Guerre.  Inventaire des documents et archives transmis par le Consulat de Belgique a Folkestone (Grande-Bretagne) 1914-1924 / P.A. Tallier

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