Old Ledbury - World War One in Ledbury - Belgian Refugees

World War One in Ledbury - Belgian Refugees

World War One Belgian Refugees

Ledbury Guardian Newspaper 19 09 1914 and 26 09 1914
The Local War Relief Committee have received an application from the Local Government Board, on behalf of the Government, asking them to ascertain what persons in their locality would be willing to offer accommodation to any Belgian refugees.
The County Committee have undertaken to receive 20 refugees at a time, and accommodate them temporarily until they can be drafted off to suitable places.
The Government say they feel sure that there are many persons in the county who would wish to show their sympathy for the sufferings which Belgium has endured, as well as their admiration for the valour and courage of her Army, and who would be willing to give temporary accommodation to some of her refugees.
Any persons interested, or able to offer accommodation, are requested to communicate with the Secretaries of the Local Committee, R. and C. B. MASEFIELD, Ledbury.

Ledbury Guardian Newspaper 26-09-1914
Belgian Refugees
We understand that the following have offered to accommodate Belgian refugees: Mr. W.L. PRITCHETT (Woodleigh), Miss TEYNHAM (Colwall), Mrs Mason DAVIS (Colwall), Mrs. A.E. GREEN-PRICE (Tarrington) and Mr. S. SNELL (The Elms, Broomsgreen).

Accommodation Wanted in the District for Belgian Refugees
The committee appointed by the County Council as a Sub-Committee of the County War Distress Relief Committee to act in the Ledbury rural met at the Barrett-Browning Institute on Thursday afternoon. Mr. F. BALLARD presided and the committee consists of Messrs. W. L. PRITCHETT, J. C. DAVIES, H. K. FOSTER, F. BALLARD, J. RILEY and H. WESTON. The committee discussed the Belgian refugee question from the point of view of making arrangements in the district for the boarding-out of refugees. A good many have already arrived in Hereford and any person in the district who would be willing to accommodate refugees is invited to send their name in at once to Mr. F. BALLARD (Colwall). The committee will meet again next week for the purpose of dealing with any applications which might be made.

Ledbury Guardian Newspaper 03 10 1914
We understand that permission has been asked of the military authorities at Hereford for the use of the Ledbury Drill Hall and officers' quarters for the accommodation of Belgian refugees. While the application will no doubt be granted, as the Hall would afford accommodation for several families, no definite reply has as yet been received. Those in Ledbury who have communicated with the Belgian Refugee Committee in London, with the object of taking refugees, will probably find their offer responded to more quickly if they communicated with the secretaries of the Ledbury Committee.

Ledbury Guardian Newspaper 10-10-1914
Belgian Refugees
The local committee have obtained permission to take over the new Drill Hall, sergeants' house and officers' quarters in New Street for the accommodation of Belgian Refugees and application has been made to headquarters for from ten to fifteen. It is more than likely that these will arrive early next week.

Ledbury Guardian Newspaper 17 10 1914
At both services at Ledbury Church on Sunday, the Rector referred to the expected arrival of the Belgian refugees in Ledbury who would be the guests of Ledburians. He said there was, perhaps, no need for him to say that it was their duty as English people, generously and whole-heartedly to succour to the utmost of their power the Belgian victims who were homeless and penniless. It was their duty as English people to do that as a thank offering to God for having spared their own country from the worst horrors of war - the terrible scourges of which had not reached their quiet island homes. It was their duty and privilege to grudge nothing they possibly could do or give for those sorely-tried Belgian Allies who had made such a magnificent defence of their own country. It was well known that had it not been for the brave sacrifices of the Belgians that the war to-day would present a very different aspect to what it does. And so the Ledbury people, he believed, would feel that they could not do enough for those who had stood between them and their adversaries at a most critical time. He just mentioned this because the Hospitality Committee which was arranging the reception of the refugees were asking for contributions of various kinds towards their maintenance during the time they would be guests in Ledbury which would probably be about three months.

Non Arrival
The non-arrival of the Belgian refugees on Monday caused a great deal of disappointment to a large number of Ledbury people, especially with the ladies, who have worked so strenuously of late at the Drill Hall in preparation for them. On Monday everything was in readiness for their reception and a good meal had been prepared but the refugees failed to put in an appearance. We understand that their arrival is expected this week-end. - Town Crier

Ledbury Guardian Newspaper 24 10 1914
The Belgian refugees who arrived at Ledbury on the 6.40 p.m. train from Hereford on Friday evening last must have felt very gratified at the warmth of the reception accorded them by Ledbury people. The refugees were fourteen in number, and included adults and children. There were several men amongst them, and one was a cripple. One of the women was carrying a baby in her arms. Their worldly goods were very few, and what remained were wrapped up in small bundles. The party were far from being despondent, and were, in fact, all smiles. The men assisted in carrying the luggage from the train to the conveyance waiting for them outside the station, and appeared to be quite happy. Their arrival caused one to reflect upon the fact that but a few weeks ago these unfortunate people were in the enjoyment of peaceful home life, but alas! like so many of their compatriots, they had been driven from home and native land - sojourners in a strange but as they appreciatively realised, hospitable country. They are but a few out of the thousands who have had to forsake happy homes, and to be separated, perhaps, from relatives and friends, as a result of the devastating work of the ruthless Tentonic invaders.

A large crowd awaited the arrival of the visitors on the station platform, all of whom appeared to be anxious to catch a glimpse of their less fortunate brethren. Needless to say when the train steamed into the station considerable excitement prevailed, and loud cheers rent the air. The party were met on their arrival by the Hon. Violet BIDDULPH, Mrs. W. A. H. MARTIN (Upper Hall), and Sister Jean. Amongst those on the platform were various representatives of local committees, including the hon. secretaries (Messrs. R. and C. B. MASEFIELD), the Chairman of the Urban Council (Mr. H. THACKER), Mr. W. L. TILLEY, the Rev. F. C. LYNCH, Mr. R. LAWRENCE, Mr. H. DOWN, and others. Before the train was brought to a standstill the refugees were caught sight of, and a loud "Hurrah!" went up. Mr. C. B. MASEFIELD, with a kindly smile, voluntarily assumed the role of a porter, and assisted the party to alight from the train. With some difficulty the Belgians reached the waiting-room, where they were warmly welcomed. The people then, for the most part, crowded round the large brake, which Mr. E. H. HOPKINS (the Royal Oak Hotel) had kindly sent to convey the refugees to the Drill Hall, which was waiting for the refugees.

The appearance of Mr. C. B. MASEFIELD, with one of the bundles slung over his shoulder, was the signal for another outburst of cheering. One of the men had a very smiling countenance, and repeatedly raised his hat in acknowledgement of the crowd's enthusiasm. When the party were safely seated in the brake, a start was made for the Drill Hall, which was quickly reached. In the Homend many people could be seen standing outside their doors cheering as the brake passed by, in which the Belgians took part. The children seemed filled with wonderment, and could not comprehend the meaning of it all. On arrival at the Drill Hall a crowd quickly gathered, and the Belgians conversing with one another in their own language was a source of great interest. Once inside the Drill Hall the party were soon partaking of a sumptuous repast provided by generous townspeople, and prepared by a committee of ladies who have laboured assiduously of late in order to ensure the comfort of Ledbury's guests. Tobacco and pipes were obtained for the men, and they were left for the night enjoying "fragrant weed," with their wives and children in peace and comfort.

We were all pleased to read a few weeks ago that an endeavour was being made to bring Ledbury into line with other towns in the matter of offering hospitality to Belgian refugees. Ledbury has already done well in supporting the National Relief Fund, the Red Cross Society, and the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families; Association; also in its contributions of garments, blankets, and comforts for our troops and sailors. But all this is for our flesh and blood; in the appeal on behalf of Belgian refugees we have been asked to enlarge our sympathy and extend our help to another nationality, a people who are suffering more trials and hardships than any people have suffered in Western Europe for centuries. That Ledbury has not been appealed to in vain is very gratifying indeed. When it became known that refugees were coming to the town and that they would be housed at the Drill Hall, a number of local ladies and gentlemen, who were formed into committees, at once set to work with a will, their one aim being to ensure the comfort of the party during their stay in the town. Proof of the fact that they have fully succeeded in their endeavours, is evidenced by the smiling faces of the refugees themselves who are now as happy as can be expected after the very trying ordeal through which they have passed. The officers' quarters have been very comfortably furnished, and nothing is lacking which would help to give the place a homelike appearance.
Believing that the people of Ledbury would be interested to know some of the experiences through which their guests have passed, a representative of the "Guardian" paid a visit to the Drill Hall this week, and with the aid of Miss GIBBONS, of the Convent, who speaks French fluently, and who kindly consented to act as an interpreter, he was able to pick up some interesting particulars of the life the Belgians had been compelled to lead since the outbreak of the war. There are at present three families in the town, and their names and respective ages are as follows:-

Mr. VANOSMOIN, age 38, farmer; Mrs. VANOSMOIN (38), and their three children, the eldest of whom is 13 ½.

Mr. Sroirel BECHERS (38), cigar maker; Mrs. BECHERS (22), and one child, aged 18 months.

Mr. Leopold SCHOENSETTERS (37), farmer; Mrs. SCHOENSETTERS (36), and their three childrens, ages' 12, 8, and 3 years respectively.

Miss Nicht HOMBROEX (16).

The above families are related to each other. The mother of the last-named young lady is dead, and she has no knowledge of the whereabouts of her father, who she was forced to leave behind when she came to this country. Our representative inquired why the men, who are in the prime of life, were not serving in the Army, and the reply he received was to the effect that it was because they were fathers of families. Mr. BECHERS is a cripple, and he hails from Malines. The remainder are from the town of Hongairde, near Tirlemont, eight hours journey from Brussels. Hongairde is an industrial district, and its chief industries are brewing and sugar-making. It is within half-an-hour's journey from the French border, hence the reason why the refugees, with one exception, understand the French language. Mr. BECHERS does not understand the French language. Before the war broke out they were a happy and contended people, and when the invading hosts drew near to their town dealing out ruin and desolation in their train, they were informed by the Burgomaster, that they must leave the town at once if they had any regard for their own safety. Then followed the great stampede. But before they could depart the Germans had already arrived, but our friends managed to leave the neighbourhood without any harm befalling them. Their flight was brought about so soon that they saw little of the actual warfare, but they saw bombs dropping on the town and learnt afterwards that the place was set on fire. Mr. BECHERS saw the Germans invade Malines and set fire to the church, barracks and other buildings as they came. He also experienced the horror of seeing a woman killed by the German guns. After leaving the town of Hongairde the refugees walked to Louvain, which took them four hours. They arrived there the day before the enemy commenced the destruction of this city, and as the Germans were following on their heels they were obliged to proceed on their way without delay. The party were in the possession of passports, and went by train from Louvain to Gand, where they stayed for two weeks without being molested by the Germans. At the expiration of the fortnight they proceeded to Woostikk.. ( Oostikkar ) and were provided with food and shelter in a convent for six weeks. They afterwards proceeded to Ostend, and advised to cross to England. With all speed the party accordingly embarked on a boat literally packed with refugees, for there were over a thousand on board, and set foot on English soil at Folkestone. Of their subsequent travels, first to London, where they stayed at the Alexandra Palace for a week, and thence to Hereford, no details are necessary. It is sufficient that these many wanderings involving extreme hardships and terrible anxieties have ended with the location of the unfortunate party under the hospitable roof of the Ledbury Drill Hall.

The refugees have relatives in the fighting line. Those engaged in the farming industry had to, of course, leave all their stock behind. Mr. SCHOENSETTERS left three cows, a calf, thirteen pigs, together with fields of grain, and about thirty hens. The furniture in the home had also to be left, and the party came away with no clothes whatever beyond what they stood up in, and a few odd things they were able to collect, and which were wrapped up in the bundles they were seen carrying at the Ledbury Station.

The refugees spoke in terms of high praise of the reception accorded them by the English people. Asked what they thought of the reception given to them by the Ledbury people, a smile of gratitude broke out over their faces, which was sufficient to need no words to emphasise the fact that they thoroughly appreciated all the townspeople had done for them.

Asked what they thought of the war, the refugees considered the Germans had committed a great crime is destroying so many homes, and in making so many innocent people suffer. They intended, however, if circumstances permitted to return to their native land and were looking forward to that day.

The refugees have already made many friends, and during the past week they have had many visitors. True, there are difficulties of language to be met with by those who do not understand French or Flemish, but these difficulties are gradually being overcome by the instructive gesticulations of our new visitors, and with the aid of a Flemish-English phrase book, which had been published for the benefit of those giving hospitality to Belgian refugees. Accordingly we may expect an outbreak of English-French-Flemish among Ledbury people shortly.

We understand that application has been made for more Belgian refugees. There is still accommodation for about six or ten. The young ladies who have been round with boxes collecting funds for the refugees have been very well supported. One young lady collected £4 9s.

As the contributions for the maintenance of the Belgian refugees now in Ledbury are of a voluntary character an idea which has been put forward is certainly worth the consideration of those responsible. In brief, the proposal is that collecting boxes should be established at different parts of the town, the idea being to obtain contributions from those people who only occasionally come into Ledbury, but who would probably be quite willing to give "something" if the opportunity offered itself. - Town Crier

The committee gratefully acknowledge the following subscriptions to the local Belgian Refugees Fund:-
Messrs HATTON's Employees, 2 weeks50
Mr. G. W. SUTER's employees, 1 week11
Mr. W. L. TILLEY's employees, 1 week19
Mr. S. BOWEN26
Mrs. S. H. BICKHAM220
Mr. RILEY220
Mrs. FOWLE500
Supt. WILLIAMS and the 10 Police
Officers of the Division
Children's Service at Colwall per
Collected by Miss COOPER4100
Anonymous per Mr. W. L. TILLEY2100

Other subscriptions have been kindly promised, and will be acknowledged in these columns each week, as they are received by the secretaries.
Any subscriptions to the fund, no matter how small, will be gratefully received by Messrs. R. and C. B. MASEFIELD, or they may be paid direct to the Belgian Refugee accounts at the local banks.
The committee have to thank all those who have so liberally given or lent articles of furniture, beds and bedding, and also all those who have so generously given clothing, food, vegetables, fruit, etc.
The refugees have expressed to the committee their very grateful thanks for all that has been and is being done to make them happy and comfortable, and also for the warm welcome given them on their arrival.
Gifts of fruit, vegetables, and rabbits will be most acceptable at all times and should be left or sent to the Drill Hall.
Gifts of clothing should be left with Mr. CHADD, No. 31, New Street, or at the Drill Hall, addressed to the Clothing Sub-Committee.
The committee would like it understood that the Drill Hall is private property and that children are not allowed on the premises without permission.

Ledbury Guardian Newspaper 31 10 1914
The committee gratefully acknowledge the following further subscriptions to this fund:-
Amount previously acknow-
Hon. Violet BIDDULPH300
The Misses HERENC100
Sale of Lavender Bags per Miss
Ada SMITH, Homend Lodge
Mr. M. A. WOOD330
Miss WOOD110
The Staff of the Capital and
Counties Bank per Mr. F.
Dance at New Inn, Per Messrs.
E. W. PALMER and T. E.
R.A.O.B. 1st instalment, per Mr
"Four of us"50
Pupils and Staff at the Abbey
High School, per Miss BAL-
LARD, 2 weekly instalments
Pupils at Ledbury Grammar
School, one week, per Mr.
Mr. L. W. TILLEY's Employees,
One week
Messrs. W. MADDERS and Son's
Employees, one week
Messrs. W. H. HATTON and Son's,
Employee, one week
G. W. Railway Employees, one
Messrs. H. BRAY and Co.'s Em-
ployees, one week
Messrs LANE Bros, and BASTOW's
Employees, one week
Mr. G. W. SUTER's Employees, 1
Messrs. TILLEY and Son, Printing
Office Employees, 1 week
Mr. W. H. HORTON's Employees,
one week
Mr. E. M. GOODMAN (Uplands)220
6 Belgian refugees arrived at Ledbury
A party of 6 Belgian refugees arrived at Ledbury this week from Ostend and they have been quartered at the Drill Hall. The newcomers had a fair amount of luggage with them. They include men, women and children. The men are fishermen. A party of five refugees are at present staying at Bosbury in a cottage kindly placed at their disposal by Mr. R. BUCHANAN. A family of four has been taken charge of by Lady HOPTON, The Homend, Stretton Grandison.

Ledbury Guardian Newspaper 07 11 1914
The Belgian Refugee Committee wish it known that whilst they are anxious for the men to get any employment they can in the immediate neighbourhood that does not interfere with local labour, yet at the same time they are of opinion that these men should not be paid less than 3d. an hour as a minimum wage.
In cases of contract of piecework they should be paid the standard rate of wages.
Applications for their services should be made either to the Rev. F. C. LYNCH, Mr. F. W. JUCKES, Mr. W. I. TILLEY, or Mr. C. B. MASEFIELD, or arrangements can be made direct with the men themselves.
The committee gratefully acknowledge the following subscriptions received during the week:-
Amount previously acknowledged49811
Miss S. WALTON (Bosbury)29
Mr. W. J. LINK40
Mr. and Mrs. CHADD (Bell Orchard)
Mr. F. W. JUCKES40
Collection at C.E.M.S. Service
November 1st
Mr. W. A. H. MARTIN300
Mrs. BAXTER (Old Castle)330
Mrs. CROFT1100
Mr. W. L. TILLEY's Employees111
Messrs. MADDERS and Son's Em-
Mr. W. H. HATTON and Son's Em-
G.W.R. Employees4
Messrs. H. BRAY and Co.'s Employees110
Messrs. LANE Bros. and BASTOW's
Mr. G. W. SUTER's Employees11
Mr. W. H. HORTON's Employees13
Messrs. TILLEY and Son's Printing
Office Employees
The Russell Endowed School29
The Abbey High School50

Ledbury Guardian Newspaper 14 11 1914
GOULD, Howard, Esq. donation1000
Ledbury Church Collection3184
DAVIS, Miss, South Parade100
JUCKES, F., Employees, Oct. 3110
JUCKES. F., Employees, Nov. 710
G.W.R. Employees38
HOPKINS and Son, October 3129
HOPKINS and Son, November ?29
TILLEY, W. L., Employees110
BRAY and Co.'s Employees110
TILLEY, J. J., Printing Office12
MADDERS, W., Employees20
HORTON, H., Employees13
LANE and BASTOW's Employees40
SUTER, G. W., Employees11
Grammar School Scholars29
G.P.O. Employees19

Ledbury Guardian Newspaper 21 11 1914
List of subscriptions for week ending 19th November, 1914:-
Amount previously acknow-
Mr. W. L. TILLEY's Employees110
Messrs. MADDERS and Son's
Messrs. W. H. HATTON and Son's
Employees, two weeks
G.W.R. Employees44
Messrs. H. BRAY and Co's Em-
Messrs. LANE Bros. And BASTOW's
Mr. G. W. SUTER's Employees11
Mr. J. J. TILLEY's Printing Office
Mr. W. H. HORTON's Employees13
G.P.O. Employees19
Abbey High School, two weeks100
Russell Endowed School29
Miss Ada SMITH, 2nd donation100
Mr. James MARKLOVE100
Dance, New Inn, per Messrs.
Mr. BUTLER (Westhill)50

Miss Cooper280
Miss E. THACKER1140
Master Dick BICKHAM1136
Mrs. GABB (No. 7)1128
Mrs. Austin MADDOX12
Mrs. HOWELL (The Feathers)118
Miss Marjorie DAVIS10
Mrs. BOSLEY101
Mrs. HOPKINS (The Oak)81
Mrs. T. CHADD (New Street)5
Mrs. HOLLINGS (The Fox)3½
Mrs. WEST33
Mr. PALMER (New Inn)28
Miss Molly TILLEY1011½

Ledbury Guardian Newspaper 28 11 1914
List of Subscriptions for week ending, 26th November:-
Amount previously acknow-
Mr. W. L. TILLEY's Employees110
Messrs. MADDERS and Sons Em-
G. W. R. Employees51
Messrs. H. BRAY and Co. 's Em-
Messrs. LANE Bros. and BASTOW's
Mr. G. W. SUTER's Employees11
Mr. J. J. TILLEY's Printing
Office Employees
Mr. W. H. HORTON's Employees13
G.P.O. Employees19
Mr. R. W. JUCKES' Employees10
Messrs. HOPKINS and Sons' Em-
ployees (two weeks)
Abbey High School50
Russell Endowed School29

The committee wish to take this opportunity of thanking most heartily all those who have contributed so generously in so many different ways to the comfort, welfare, and happiness of the Refugees under their charge. The committee's best thanks are also due to the Editor of the "Ledbury Guardian" for publishing the list of subscribers to the fund every week, and also for publishing this and similar notices entirely free of charge. With the exception of vegetables, which can always be left at the Drill Hall, the committee would like all gifts for the Refugees to be left either with Mrs. T. CHADD, 31, New Street, or else with some other member of the committee.

Ledbury Guardian Newspaper 12 12 1914
List of subscriptions for fortnight ending December 10th, 1914:-
Amount previously acknow-
Mr. W. L. TILLEY's Employees
(two weeks)
Messrs. MADDERS and Son's Em-
ployees (two weeks)
Messrs. W. H. HATTON and Son's
Employees (three weeks)
G.W.R. Employees (two weeks)84
Messrs. H. BRAY and Co's Em-
ployees (two weeks)
Messrs. LANE Bros. and BASTOW's
Employees (two weeks)
Mr. G. W. SUTER's Employees
(one week)
Mr. J. J. TILLEY's Printing Office
Employees (one week)
Mr. W. H. HORTON's Employees
(two weeks)
G.P.O. Employees (two weeks)37
Mr. F. W. JUCKES' Employees (two
Messrs. HOPKINS and Sons' Em-
ployees (two weeks)
Abbey High School Employees
(two weeks)
Russell Endowed School Em-
ployees (two weeks)
Balance from Territorial Tobacco
Messrs Joseph WATSON and Son's
Dr. GREEN, balance from Lecture
on "Microbes"
Collected per Rev. F. C. LYNCH120
Contribution from Refugees143

1914 - 1919 Ledbury Guardian Newspaper - Herefordshire History
1916 Tilley's Almanack
Photographs are credited to the owners
Comments are from members of the Old Ledbury Facebook Group
Cuttings from Ledbury Reporter newspapers
Transcribed by Sue SMITH

Ledbury Reporter

[Ledbury Reporter] The Reporter now has Archive photographs for the years 2005 - 2009 which you can view and order. Select a year then make sure Ledbury is the keyword entered before pressing GO. I have spent many an hour in the Ledbury Library looking through the old Reporters which are on microfiche. Support this great local paper.