Prestatyn

In our neighbouring town, Prestatyn, there was also a warm welcome for the refugees from Belgium. However, it seems there was some conflict over who had the responsibility for looking after them!

This report is from the Rhyl Record and Advertiser, published on October 24th, 1914:

“Welcoming the Belgian Refugees at Prestatyn”
“A Somewhat Stormy Public Meeting”

“On Monday, the first contingent of the Belgian Refugees arrived in Prestatyn, and were given an enthusiastic welcome. They were received at the Railway Station by Councillor G. W. Jones (Chairman of the Council) and members of the Belgium Refugee Committee. There was a large gathering of the general public and there was enthusiastic cheering as the two families left the station. The refugees are to be housed in the two bungalows kindly placed at their service by Dr. Smith, Drakelow*. All the necessary arrangements for the comforts of the guests have been completed, and there are ample funds for their maintenance until Easter next. Since their arrival, one of the refugees has written a letter thanking Prestatyn residents for their kindness.

A touching circumstance has arisen in connection with the arrival of the refugees. It appears that the families were together on the quay at Ostend ready to leave the country with many thousands of other Belgians, but through the stress of circumstances four members of the family became separated from the others, and up to the present all efforts to trace them have failed. It is believed they have arrived in England, but their exact whereabouts at present is unknown. It is now proposed to secure photographs of those at Prestatyn and these will be circulated in other centres with the hope of re-uniting the families, so that they can winter together in Prestatyn. It appears that the houses at present available are those lent by Dr. Smith, Mr. Burt and Mr. Thornton.

On Monday evening, by the invitation of Dr. Smith a large gathering assembled at the Town Hall. It was a public meeting to which all who were interested in the refugees were invited, but unfortunately the proceedings through some misunderstanding were not the most harmonious character. Opinions differ as to the cause of the break in the proceedings, and there are at present really two parties in the town who have taken upon themselves the care of the refugees, but it is believed that all differences have been settled and that when the Prince of Wales’ Fund and Relief Committee meet on Monday afternoon at the Council Chamber all differences will have disappeared, and the members of the committee will be united in the carrying out of the good work undertaken.

It appears that Dr. Smith, who with a number of ladies and gentlemen, had carried out the preliminary arrangements for the refugees and who had collected a substantial sum for their maintenance, had secured from Mr. Ffoulkes Roberts† the promise of the use of a house, which is unoccupied, until Easter next. Working in other directions, Mr. G. O. Williams (Secretary of the Town Improvement Association) had been in communication with Lord Aberconway, and that gentleman had offered by letter to place Beach House, together with a portion of the furniture, at the services of the Association for the Refugees. A meeting of the Association was hastily called on Monday evening, and they decided to attend the meeting called by Dr. Smith, and to put the letter before that meeting.

The Town Hall was crowded, and a number of the refugees occupied seats on the platform. Dr. Smith opened the meeting, and explained what had been done by Mrs. Smith and himself and the members of the committee working with him. He proposed that Mr. Ffoulkes Roberts’ offer be accepted, that a committee composed of the members of the Council, the Improvement Association, clergy and ministers of all denominations, representatives from all places of worship, and all others interested in the refugees be formed for the purpose of working the scheme.

At this stage, Mr. Terry ventured to suggest that as there was a resolution to be put to the meeting, that it would be well to have a chairman, and as it was a public matter, he proposed that Mr. G. W. Jones (Chairman of the Council) take the chair. This was carried, and Mr. Jones at once took the chair, and extended a hearty welcome to the town to the Belgians, assuring them that in the district they would find many warm friends.

It was then explained that there had been a meeting of the Executive of the Town Improvement Association that evening and Lord Aberconway’s letter was produced, and the position explained. It was pointed out that the offer was a very good one, and that a committee would be relieved of the responsibility of furnishing a house, which would be necessary if the offer from Mr. Ffoulkes Roberts was entertained in preference to the other. It was then proposed that the letter be handed over to a committee comprised of the members of the Council, Town Improvement Association, clergy, and ministers of religion, representatives of places of worship, Dr. Smith, Mr. E. T. Williams (as representing the Labourers’ Union) and anyone else interested in the refugees.

There was considerable excitement following this, and some misunderstanding as to the steps taken by the association, Dr. Smith retiring from the meeting.

During the course of the proceedings it was stated that there was no intention to run two committees, and that Dr. Smith and those who had worked with him were deserving of all credit and thanks for the steps they had taken. It was also stated that the work of the original committee was practically finished, as there were sufficient promises and sums in hand to provide for the refugees who had already arrived during the Winter.

The resolution was put to the meeting and carried that the committee should be formed, and it was decided to hand Lord Aberconway’s letter to that committee to deal with.

It is understood that the newly-formed committee will take in hand the collecting of subscriptions, and the general supervision of the providing for the refugees. We are also informed that Dr. Smith has expressed his willingness to work in conjunction with the committee and to place at their disposal another house.”

 Prestatyn
The Refugees in Prestatyn

This is the Geens Family. The family were from Mechelen and consisted of Alfred Geens, his wife Jeanne and his two children, Helene, (aged about 12) and Yvon (aged about 9), along with two maiden aunts, Cornelia and Marie Andries. By 1915 Alfred had gone back to Belgium, as he was worried about his electricity business, leaving the rest of the family behind in North Wales. He wanted the others to go, but Helene stayed with the two aunts, who didn’t speak any English, in Prestatyn for the rest of the war. She went to a private girls school and Yvon went to the local primary school whilst in Prestatyn. The family in Mechelen had a German officer billeted with them for the rest of the war.

We found that Helene eventually married a British serviceman and settled in Wigston in Leicester. We contacted the Wigston Historical Society and found that Mr. Duncan Lewis of that group actually knew her! He very kindly sent us a copy of the book “Wigston in the First World War” by Duncan Lucas, Derek Seaton, Patricia Berry and Margaret Boulter. Helene had two children, Andre, who went to work on the Oriana as a chef and Diane. There is much more information about this family on their own dedicated page: The Family Geens

Talacre Hall

This is the family at Talacre Hall in Gronant. For more information about Belgian Refugees – this time the brothers from Dendermonde Abbey, please visit our page “Talacre“.

Here’s a lovely little story, from the Flintshire Observer of the 3rd of December 1914:

“Rhodes,” a Pomeranian dog belonging to Mrs. Bannister, Prestatyn, has collected a sum of £2 10s. by means of collecting-boxes attached to his back, for the benefit of the local Belgian Refugee Maintenance Fund.

*

+

+

Some more information we found about Refugees in Prestatyn:

+

Chester Chronicle,  Saturday, October 24th, 1914

Belgian Refugees in Flintshire 
 
“Councillor G. O. Williams, secretary of the Prestatyn Town Improvement Association,  has been notified by Lord Aberconway that the Prestatyn Trustees are prepared to place Beach House, fully furnished, at the disposal of a representative towns committee for the accommodation of Belgian Refugees.  
 
Two families of Belgian Refugees are to find a home at the Franciscan Capuchin Monastery at Pantasaph, near Holywell. One of the founders of this famous Welsh Monastery was Father Seraphin, of Bruges, who went there in 1851, and who, moreover, brought over to this country, in 1861, the community of nuns who are now in charge of the St. Clare’s Convent, also at Pantasaph.” *

 +

+

+

Evening Dispatch
Thursday, December 3rd 1914

Birmingham Gazette
Friday, December 4th 1914

A Belgian’s Uncle / Belgian Refugee’s Quest 
 
A Belgian Refugee named Jean Briatte, who is now staying at Prestatyn, North Wales, has forwarded a communication to the Birmingham police asking if they can furnish him with the address of his uncle, Jean Droiche, who, he believes, has been a resident in Birmingham for between twenty-five and thirty years.  
Up to the present the police have been unable to ascertain the address. 

***We searched the 1911 Census for evidence of Jean Droiche (and the more likely spelling of Droixhe) but had about as much luck as the Birmingham police! Other searches also proved fruitless…
 +

+

+

The Witpas Family, who were also staying in Prestatyn, don’t seem to have had the best of times: Babies Born, Suspected Spies, Broken Bones and Washtub Woes…!

+

+
From the Liverpool Daily Post of Saturday, February 20th 1915: News of a baby born to a Refugee:

AWKWARD PRESTATYN INCIDENT.

A Belgian refugee staying at Prestatyn had an unpleasant experience on Thursday evening. About midnight Mme. Lepage was taken ill. and her brother, M. Witpas, was despatched post haste for doctor. Armed with an electric torch, he was proceeding over the railway bridge when was stopped by military guard, who inquired his business at so late hour. His imperfect English, excited replies, and gesticulations aroused their suspicions, and he was placed under arrest for being German. Not until the arrival the local constable were matters explained and the unfortunate man released. It is pleasing to know that Mme. Lepage, who gave birth to a son later in the day, did not suffer as a result of her brother’s detention.

+

+
More about the brother, Louis, as he left to join the army back in Belgium…
+

+
Liverpool Daily Post, Saturday, March 13th 1915

Refugee returns to fight 
 
M. Louis Witpas, a Belgian Refugee, who for some months has been living at Prestatyn,  left on Thursday to take his place in the fighting line with the Belgian Army. While escaping from the Germans on a bicycle from Malines (Mechelen) he fell and broke his arm in two places. He was a member of the Belgian Volunteer Force, and but for his accident would have been with his unit long ago. There was a large number of Belgians who are being entertained in the district to see him off from Prestatyn. 

+

+

+
Dundee Courier – Friday 12 February 1915

BELGIAN LADY WHO ATTEMPTED TO CROSS CANAL IN WASHTUB

HOW SHE WAS FIRED ON BY GERMANS.

The attempted escape, capture, and subsequent, release of an aged Belgian lady are vividly pictured in a letter received by her son, who with his family are being entertained at Prestatyn.
When the Germans arrived at Malines (Mechelen) this lady, Madame Witpas, who occupied a prosperous farm at Hever Schiplaken, fled from the village with her daughter and three grandchildren. There being no boats available, the old lady and her relatives attempted to cross the Louvain (Leuven) Canal in washtub, and whilst doing so they were fired upon by the Germans, being afterwards captured.
The old lady was detained for several days, but was eventually allowed to return to her home, where she found that all her stock, with the exception of one pig, which had made itself comfortable in the house, had been taken away.
Describing the general conditions, the writer mentions that letters addressed to this country have to be dictated to a German official, who writes them. Letters from Belgium go to Yersche, in Holland, where they are scrutinised by a censor, who deletes all matter likely to give joy to the recipient, and destroys those containing plaudits at the successes of the Allies.

+

+
It’s also interesting to note that one of the Refugees in Prestatyn taught French classes to the men of the Royal Army Medical Corps, who were billeted in the town. We found this information in the Flintshire Observer of March 25th, 1915.

+

Updates – 20/6/2016

The “Prestatyn Weekly” published quite a lot of information about Prestatyn’s Refugees.
This selection includes details of fundraising, names and addresses of the Refugees and facts about their departure. There are also some letters received from them after they left.

+

+

“Preparing for Belgian Refugees”
Through the kindness of Miss Hickson, a successful “pound” tea was held at Pendre on Wednesday, resulting in a sum of £5. 12s. 6½d. being raised for the maintenance of Belgian Refugees in Prestatyn. The result of a raffle is not yet known but it is expected that another £1. will be added. The articles for the tea were given by Mrs. Turner, Sonsas, Mrs. Minton, Meliden, and Miss Hickson.
As a result of the appeal made last week by several ladies who have formed a committee for the purpose of raising funds for the maintenance of Belgian Refugees in Prestatyn, we are informed that money has been promised sufficient to maintain 12 or 13 persons until the new year, and subscriptions are still coming in.

+
Initially, four houses were offered to the Refugees:
3 Purbeck Terrace & Gem Cottage – both furnished and offered by Dr. Smith,
7 Purbeck Terrace (Durlston) offered by Mr. Burt, and
“The Lilacs”, Nant Hall Road, offered for six months by Mr. A. Foulkes Roberts.

+
“Our Guests Arrive”
During the latter part of last week many unavailing visits were paid to the station by townspeople on the chance of witnessing the arrival of the party of Belgians, whose destination was Prestatyn, but it was not until Monday morning that Mrs. Turner, Sonsas, secretary of the small but enterprising committee of ladies who have undertaken to maintain them, received a telegram to say they would arrive by the 3.12 train that afternoon.
At the time named, many people assembled near the station premises, and school-children were permitted a short respite to witness the arrival. Dr. Smith (Drakelow), Mrs. Turner, Miss Hickson, and other ladies awaited the train on the platform, and as it steamed into the station excitement ran high. The Belgians were treated to an “engaged” carriage and enthusiastically welcomed. To the party the reception must have been all the more pleasant by the presence of M. Dopere, of Kelston, who, with his daughter, cordially greeted his countrymen. Willing hands assisted with the luggage, and the party were escorted along Sandy Lane to Gem Cottage and Purbeck Terrace, where they will stay. Later in the evening they attended the meeting at the Town Hall, where much anxiety was shown to shake them by the hand and endeavour to converse with them Two of the men can speak English with creditable fluency, although deprecating their ability to do so.

+

These first arrivals were:

+
3, Purbeck Terrace: Monsieur Alfred Geens, Mme. Geens, Helene (daughter), Yvon (son), and Mme. Geens’ sisters – Mlle. Marie Andries & Mlle. Cornelie Andries.

+

+
(This family made several contributions to the fund “Gifts for Belgian Soldiers”: In May 1915 they donated £15, which was a great amount 100 years ago, (M. Geens was a business owner back in Belgium – later reports state that he worked at Sandycroft Foundry whilst here, and we know that he left his family in Prestatyn to return to Belgium to take care of the business) and in July they donated half of the proceeds of the sale of “badges and flags”, which amounted to £2. 14s. 5d.)

+

+
Are there any of these badges still around? If you have one in a jewellery box or drawer and would like to photograph it and send the picture to refugeesinrhyl@mail.com, we’d be very grateful!

+

+

Gem Cottage: Monsieur Willem Joelants, Madame Joelants… All from Malines/Mechelen.

+
(This family left for Birmingham in April 1915.)

+

+

Later, the next arrivals settled in to 7, Purbeck Terrace, having temporarily stayed on Chapel Road: Monsieur & Madame Livinius Lepage and their two sons Jaen & René from Malines/Mechelen and Monsieur and Mademoiselle Witpas, from Hever.

+
(Monsieur Lepage was a bicycle maker, his wife was a seamstress. Eventually, the young M. Witpas left to join the Belgian Army. After the rest of the family left Prestatyn (for Birmingham) we found that people were still searching for them – in the pages of “Die Stem Uit België” on the 2nd of July 1915, the D’Hoogh family posted an appeal for them. They were staying at The Willows, Church Street, Tredegar at the time.)

+

+

From the Prestatyn Weekly:
“Belgian and British”
It was very thoughtful of Mr. T. W. Lewis to provide the Prestatyn Belgians with complimentary tickets to the patriotic concert which was held in the Town Hall on Wednesday. The presence of our continental guests was the finishing touch which made complete a most enjoyable evening.
To the Belgians it was a very novel and pleasing experience to listen to singers and speakers of another nationality breathing heartfelt sympathy with them in their great calamity. And to the British it was felt to be a privilege to have the opportunity of relieving in a small measure the misfortune of their exiled allies.
The hall was literally packed. Lady Bates, who presided, in an opening address, spoke feelingly on the topic which is now engrossing attention – the war, enjoining on all the necessity of rallying to the flag in this our great emergency. It was the Vicar who later in the evening reminded the audience, amid applause, that two of her ladyship’s sons had volunteered to fight for their country.
The choral singing was of a high order, and the conductor of both adult and juvenile choirs Mr. W. Humphreys) had repeatedly to bow his acknowledgements to the appreciative company.
The young folks forming the Gronant Choir came in deservedly for a good share of the applause. Soloists found themselves in the right atmosphere for doing justice to their music, and their efforts were repeatedly encored. The artistes included Miss Alice Edwards, Miss Nellie Davies, Mr. W. O. Parry, Mr. Frank Nicholson, and Miss Blodwen Jones (piano solo). Miss Gertrude Morris very efficiently played the accompaniments. A touch of humour was provided by Mr. Nicholson in his song about the “German Sausage”.
At a break in the programme Dr. Parry called for three cheers for the Belgian friends who were present. This was promptly responded to amid much excitement. The Belgians rose to their feet and waved hats and handkerchiefs, and sympathetic cheers were given on all hands. The Dr. Smith brought to the platform Monsieur William Joelants, who gave a nice little speech in English with a Belgian accent, to the evident delight of all.
In the absence of Mr. T. Pennant Williams (who had sent a substantial cheque to the funds) Br. Jones Parry announced the various items of the programme, and his smiling comments contributed not a little to the success of the entertainment.
It is expected that about £25. Will be realised from the concert, which amount will go to the War Relief and Belgian Funds.

+

+

The full programme for the concert, held at the Town Hall on Wednesday, October 21st 1914, was as follows:

Soprano: Miss Alice Edwards, Gronant
Contralto: Miss Nellie Davies, Prestatyn
Tenor: Mr. W. O. Parry, Gwaenysgor
Baritone: Mr. Frank Nicholson, Gwespyr
Pianoforte Soloist: Miss Blodwen Jones, Islwyn

Prestatyn Mixed Choirs
Gronant Children’s Choir
(Under the conductorship of Mr. W. Humphreys)

Accompanists: Mr. G. W. Jones & Miss Gertrude Morris

+

+

Back to the “Prestatyn Weekly”… Where Dr. Smith has a good idea for helping the Refugees learn a little more English:

“Our Belgian Guests”

To the Editor, “Prestatyn Weekly”,
Sir – What has already been done for our Belgian guests shows that the wholehearted wish of the town is to help them in every way possible. There is one way in which most of us can greatly help without any cost and at little trouble.
Our guests are very anxious to learn English to enable them to speak to us in their own language.
To help them in this each has been supplied with a small booklet containing a number of useful phrases: The English in one column: The French in the other.
I have asked them when purchasing anything, or when conversing with anyone, to produce the little book, and ask for a sentence or two to be read to them.
If anyone so asked will kindly repeat the sentence, doing this slowly – word-for-word – at the same time pointing out the word mentioned, this will be most helpful to our friends.
The pronunciation is the difficult part for them.
Yours, etc.,
J. F. Smith
Drakelow.

+

+

Copies of this English-French phrase book were available to buy at the offices of the “Prestatyn Weekly”, priced at just one penny. If anyone has one sitting on a bookshelf, please do get in touch with us (refugeesinrhyl@mail.com) so that we can scan and reproduce it!

+

+

When Monsieur Joelants and his family left for Birmingham in April 1915, his father wrote to the “Prestatyn Weekly” to describe the conditions in their home town of Malines/Mechelen. It’s clear that the obscured “Mons. L—–“ is Monsieur Lepage:

+

+

“A Belgian’s Departure”

Another of our Belgian guests has departed this week – Mr. W. Joelants has gone to Birmingham. His father writes from Malines:-
“The Germans have broken open our door and stolen all our linen, clothes, and everything nice. They put out on the street all the furniture, and the motor cars were waiting on the door to drive all to the station.”

Mons. L—– has received another letter telling him that all is going well now, and that there is food enough and also work. Many people have returned to Malines, and all shops are open.
At Brussels, all eatables are very dear, and thousands and thousands of German soldiers are arriving every day from Germany and going through to the front. “It is very calm at Brussels, just the sames a before the war, only without it’s joy and that makes it a calm and not that fine Brussels as before the war.” The kindness the Germans show in Malines and some other towns is nothing but hypocrisy.

+

+
Finally, with all the Refugees gone except for the Geens family, it came time to wind up the fund-raising. The “Prestatyn Weekly” detailed this, and what the plans were for the remainder of the money in the fund:

+

+
24th of April, 1915

“Our Belgians”
To the Editor, “Prestatyn Weekly”,
Sir:- The local Belgian Refugee Committee (Mrs. Turner’s) would be obliged if you will allow them through the medium of the “P.W.” to inform the subscribers to the fund, that – with the exception of one family still residing here – and self-supporting – all the Belgians that were under the Committee’s care have now left Prestatyn: One man to join the Belgian Army – the other men having been found good work in Birmingham, enabling them to support themselves and their respective families. The latest departure was on Tuesday last, when the family of Mons. Lepage left for Birmingham.
There is therefore no need for further subscriptions. The balance in hand, the Committee propose to put to a “start again” fund for the benefit of “Our Belgians” when they return to their devastated homeland.
The Committee desire to thank most heartily all those who have so generously assisted them in money or kind; and have also been requested by the Belgians themselves to tell their many friends in Prestatyn how much they have appreciated all they have done for their happiness and comfort while resident here.
In conclusion, I may say that a properly audited balance sheet will be published.
Yours, etc.,

+

+

Letters of thanks

+

Altogether, 15 Belgian Refugees were looked after by the Committee in Prestatyn. Nine arrived on the 19th of October, 1914 and a further 6 on the 16th of November (plus one baby born in Prestatyn). The families who left for Birmingham had all obtained work in the BSA Factory. It didn’t take long for the families to write to express their gratitude – the first one came just after their arrival from the Geens family, and the others wrote after their departure:

+

+

To Dr. and Mrs. Smith, and members of the Committee of the Refugees,
Permit the first of the Belgian Refugees received by the committee of Prestatyn, to thank you with all their hearts for the truly royal welcome that they have received.
Will you tell all the ladies and gentlemen of your worthy city, of our profound gratitude.
In the misfortunes which strike our poor country, for not having been willing to forfeit its honour, we have looked with hope to noble Britain, champion of honour and of right. Our hope has not been in vain. The welcome you have given us far surpasses our hopes – and it is not as friends you have received us, nor as brothers, but as a mother who finds her long-lost son.
May the good God protect your dear country, and if one day destiny wills that misfortune knock at your door, remember, that there, over the sea, exists a little people, small as a nation, but large of heart, who will do all that is humanly possible to soothe your woes.
Will you accept, ladies and gentlemen, the assurance of our profound gratitude.
ALFRED GEENS AND FAMILY
To you, Dr. Smith, our reiterated thanks for your comfortable home that you have placed at our disposal.

+

+
These letters were received after the Belgians left:

+

+
The following is a translation of a letter received by the committee from E. Vandermaker, who had moved to Coventry:

26th of December, 1914
Ladies and Gentlemen, – It is a duty and a great pleasure to inform you that I have definitely settled in Coventry where I have obtained a good post. After Christmas I am to be promoted in the tool department. I thank you with all my heart for all the kindness and goodness which you have been so willing to lavish upon me during my unforgettable stay at Prestatyn, and I vow that no Belgian will ever forget these things. Last Saturday I had the joy of seeing again my wife, who will now remain with me here. Everything there is turning out well, and we wait with impatience a favourable moment to come and thank you personally, and in English, in which I am making very great progress. I beg Miss Thornton to thank all the members of the generous committee on my behalf, for there are many of them that I do not yet know.
Thanking you once again, and hoping soon to have the pleasure of repeating my thanks to you.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present my compliments and my sincerest regards,
E. VANDERMAKER, Coventry

+

+
The Briatte Family – who, it appears, stayed at “Beach House”, moved on to find employment in Birmingham. They wrote to the committee:

+

+

20th of March, 1915
Dear Mademoiselle,
I take upon myself, on behalf of all the Briatte family, to write to you, so that you may be so kind as to act as our interpreter to the committee, in order to thank them for the kind attentions that we have received during our stay in Prestatyn. We thank also your family, Madame Williams and her family, Dr. Smith, Monsieur le Curé, and Monsieur and Madame Aurrecoechea and their family for their kind treatment. We thank all the members of the committee and the inhabitants of Prestatyn, for we can truly say that everyone has been very good to us, and that we shall never forget it. From all our hearts we say “thank you”, for we have been very fortunate in meeting such kind people to relieve our distress. Very many thanks, ladies and gentlemen.
Thanks also from our wives and children, for we shall possess an unforgettable remembrance.
With sincerest thanks from all the family,
“Briatte”

+

+
This letter was sent to Mrs. Turner, the secretary of the committee. It is from Louis Witpas, who left his sister and her baby behind in Prestatyn when he went to join the Belgian Army. He writes from Northern France where he is in training with the 5th Division, and relies on Monsieur Geens to translate from the letter Flemish as he cannot speak English or French. Either Louis, M. Geens or the “Prestatyn Weekly” blocked out the names. Louis’ sister and her baby stayed with the Lepage family. At the time Louis wrote this letter, his sister was working in a laundry. We know that by April 1915 only the Geens family remained in Prestatyn and that the last family to leave were the Lepages, who moved to Birmingham.

+

+

Dear Madame,
Up till now I have not dared to write to you, as I could not write in English or French, but I am sure M. Geens will translate it for you. I write in Flemish, because I cannot express otherwise my duties to you.
First, I have to thank you personally and the committee for your kindness to my sister and me. I learn with pleasure that you take such an interest in S—– and hope that you will continue to do so. I Hear from M. L—– that he is willing to keep S—– with them, but if she prefers and you are able to do so I should like her to stay in Prestatyn.
Now that I am a soldier I cannot look after the child, and I think it is the duty of all young people to fight for our country, and with all our friends, the Allies, to deliver our country as soon as possible. I have plenty of courage and I shall not lose it.
Once again I thank you for the money you have given me, not because I was altogether without money, but everything is dear here, and you know as well as I do that poor Belgium cannot give us in abundance, and so I am able to buy necessary things. Perhaps I will never have opportunity to thank you verbally. All the same, I shall never forget the kindness of you and the committee, as long as it is in my power to show my gratitude.
And now my greatest blessing is to know S—– is well. My fear at present is for her, without father or mother, and now I am obliged to leave her, to defend our dear country, which has now lost so many lives. But I hope the time will come when, as before, we may take up our old work, and let us hope in God who arranges everything, and Who will see that the Germans will reap what they have sown.
I finish my letter in cordially shaking your hand.
L. Witpas

+

+

We don’t know what happened to Louis Witpas, this young, fiercely patriotic soldier. We’ve performed searches of Belgium’s World War One service records and Belgian family history sites, but we cannot find him. He is not listed among the war dead.

+

+

Dyserth

We’ve recently found a little about the Refugees who came to Dyserth. Click here for a pdf of this document.

+

+

* “Drakelow” was the name of the house in which Dr. & Mrs. Smith lived. We found mention of it in an edition of “The Missionary Worker” published on February 12th, 1912:

WANTED—Strong, healthy young woman as general. Another kept. No children. Vegetarian preferred.
Good Sabbabarian home for a willing girl. Healthy seaside. Apply: Mrs. Smith, “Drakelow,” Prestatyn, North Wales.

+

† We’ve encountered the Ffoulkes Roberts family before, when we created a History Trail around Rhyl – this was point 11 on the trail, at Colet House (now St. David’s Residential Home, strange coincidence as they are now a partner in this project!)

David Ffoulkes Roberts was a very interesting chap, and you can read what we found out about him way back in 2012 here: http://goo.gl/64xp1p

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s