Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Belgian refugee boys to get new headstone in mid Cheshire

For quite a while now, Alan Lowe has been researching two Belgian refugee boys who have been buried in Northwich, albeit in a near pauper's grave. Only recently he settled the issue of the appropriate spelling, which made retrieving death certificates easier. The two Belgians are as follows:

  1. Frans Buyssens died on the 14th February 1915, aged 10, of tubercular peritonitis at Nortwhich infirmary. He was buried on the 15th February 1915. Frans's father was Francois Buyssens, a dock Labourer. 
  2. Henris Joseph Borghys died on the 9th June 1915, aged 10. He died of both tubercular peritonitis and intestinal obstruction at Northwich Infirmary, on the 10th June 1915. His father was Joseph Adolph Borghys of Ostend an Alkali Labourer. 
With funding obtained for a proper grave, the people behind this project are eager to find relatives of Frans Buyssens or H.J. Borghys. If you have any more information, please contact allen.lowe@sky.com.

You can find the entire story in more detail from Diverse Narratives, University of Chester, or through the pages of the Belgian Embassy in London.


  1. My grandmother was born in 1908 and lived with her grandparents in Deurne, BE throughout the First World War. (Her parents were in America and only returned in 1921.) I have just discovered that her uncle 'Jos' married his equally Flemish wife 'Tant'Anneke' in St Giles, Holborn, UK in 1916. This surprised me greatly, as I have no idea how they came to be there - they were both 21 at the time of their marriage. The family tale goes that Granny's uncles hid in the cellars in the house in Dueurne, only coming out at night for fear of being sent to the front as cannon-fodder in the later years of the war. A cousin died earlier in the war at Liers, and I have a photo of my grandmother's class with Belgian and American flags and a blackboard, thanking the Americans for Food relief - while my other grandfather was involved in the R M Naval Blockade. But I still don't know how Josef Claessens and Anna Maria van Kerkhoven met in England, and I wish I did!
    Cathy in Australia

  2. Hi Cathy, thanks for that. What a wonderful story. Belgian connections across the globe. I'm afraid that unless no family archive helps to uncover how they met, other archives might very well not. They might have met on the boat, crossing the Channel?