Review by Simon Levack March 2023
During the Great War Faversham welcomed a number of Belgian families who fled their country following the German invasion in August 1914. Approximately 200 refugees were accommodated in the town, which had a population of around 8,000 at the time. The refugees were supported by a committee of local volunteers, who found them homes and helped them them with housing and provided food, clothing, education and other essentials, In their turn the Belgians made a significant contribution to the town during their stay, working in local factories and shops and participating in community events. They also formed close relationships with their hosts, and many remained in contact with Faversham residents long after the war had ended.
Authored by a descendent of one of the refugee families, this paper is an engrossing account both of their arduous flight and their efforts to make new lives in Faversham and of how Faversham’s residents responded to their predicament.
The passages reproduced here describe the journey of a typical family from the early days of the War to their eventual return after the Armistice.
The experience of the Belgian refugees in Faversham is an important – and topical – reminder of the impact of war on civilian populations, as well as the resilience and compassion of those who come to their aid.