Posted 20 September 2012 - 08:00 PM
Frommy own research regarding the small Wiltshire Parish of Purton;
BELGIAN REFUGEES IN PURTON.
At the start of the Great War large numbers of Belgian refugees found their way to the shores of England. Purton like many other towns and villages assisted in their temporary relocation. Ethel Richardson recorded in Remembrance wakes that a good sized dwelling house and a couple of cottages were initially provided to house families. Ethel also records that money, furniture, food and other items were given or promised as people were grateful for the Belgians stand that bought France 2 weeks at the start of the War. Ethel recorded in her diary for October 17th 1914 that she “had the whole nine cottage Belgian refugees for tea”, she names one of the family names as Beulens who had a Son in the Army but at this time early in the War she had not heard from him. Some of the refugees were “beautiful needle women” and were paid to take embroidery classes to provide them with a small amount of money that was earned rather than given in sympathy. At the end of the War most if not all refugees were swiftly returned to their homeland as their Government
provided free passes home.
Mentioned in Ethel Richardson’s book The Story of Purton. Ethel refers to her work, appointed to superintend
arrangements for Belgian refugee Colonies in the District.
BARNES, Francis and Sons.
Carpenters, Station Road (1915). He employed the eldest son of one of the Belgian refugee families that were housed in the Village.
RICHARDSON, Ethel Mary.
Purton House, wife of Captain Arthur Percy, mother to Edmund, Kenneth and Mervyn. Early in the War Ethel assisted in the distribution of Belgium refugees to homes that could accommodate them in Purton.
WALSH, Evelyn Mary.
Manor House (Recorded as Emmeline M on the 1914 voters list). Accepted Belgium refugees who were able to be accommodated early in the War (Ethel Richardson quotes that she offered to house 5 Belgian refugees but refused to accept that upto 1000 German POW`s to be kept in her field and barn). The Swindon Advertiser dated May 1915 reported that she traveled to Earls Court to select a suitable family to be housed in the village. It stated that a cottage off New Road called Hunts cottages was to be used. She selected an Ostend family called Derynek, 4 children with their parents; unfortunately one of the children contracted measles and could not return to Purton. A family from Wallerzeele was then chosen that included Madame de Wever and her 5 children. Her husband had been taken by the Germans during the early stages of the War as forced labour.