The German invasion through Belgium at the outset of WW1, as part of the infamous Shleiffen plan, resulted in the inevitable refugees. Of these refugees it is estimated that about 250,000 would end up spread throughout the British Isles. One of these families would arrive at Hawes station and take up residence in nearby Gayle: the family Marlein.
Charles Marlein was from Ostend and was a sailor on the mail steam ships that crossed the channel between Ostend and Dover. During his spare time in Ostend he led an accordion band and would even entertain the passengers who travelled on the ships. As war gripped Belgium the family travelled to the safety of England. Charles, his wife Natalie and children Emmerance, Margaret, Elvier, Madeleine, Theophiel (Phil) and Francis eventually settled in Gayle. Their eldest son, Auguste, was fighting in the Belgium Army and would later die for his country.
The family was billeted at Clint’s House, Gayle. The local people rallied round to support them by supplying them with furniture, bedding, crockery and the like. It was a kindness they never forgot. Two of their daughters found work with a local tailor called Martland. Sadly, their youngest son Francis died from tuberculosis and was buried at Hawes.
In early 1919 the Marlein family returned to Belgium but Phil could not settle. He returned to the Dales and worked for a farmer at Swathgill Farm. He married a local girl and settled in Gayle where Phil worked delivering animal meal to local farmers. Their children, Charles, Elvier and Madeleine were born at Gayle.
Interestingly, when Belgium was occupied by the Germans in 1940, Phil’s sister Madaleine and her family once again ended up as refugees and arrived back in Gayle. Her husband would join the British Army whilst Phil became a sergeant in the Hawes Home Front.
The Marlein family were not unique in being housed in the Yorkshire Dales. A family called Vander Bosch had also settled in Gayle, while Adolf and Clemence Schaepherders and their family settled at Castle Bolton. Little is known though of their stories.
Explore more memories from the ribbon
Molly Copland visited the Green Howards Museum to tell us about her uncle Arthur Edward Arnett. Arthur Arnett was born in Wakefield on 3rd July 1896 and was educated at Sanda Elementary School and Leeds Central High School before working as a Junior Clerk at the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. He enlisted with the 2nd Battalion, York and Lancashire Regiment on 17th February 1916, serving with the British Expeditionary Force from 28th June. Following a transfer to the 5th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment Arthur was wounded at the Somme around 11th September 1916. He spent five weeks in hospital before being sent back to England, eventually returning to France with the 6th Yorks and Lancs on 18th March 1917. After transferring to the 10th Battalion following losses at the Battle of Loos, Arthur was killed in action at Gheluvelt on 28th September 1917 and is buried at Hooge Crater Cemetery in Belgium.
Sidonie van Eepoel died just a few months before the end of the First World War at the age of 40. Her family story is shared with a quarter of a million other Belgians, who fled to England to escape the invading German Army in 1914. Around 10,500 of these refugees ended up in Yorkshire, the biggest intake of any area outside London. For those who stepped off the train after up to a month of travelling there was both relief and exhaustion. It was after mid-September 1914 that were the first Belgian migrants started to arrive in Yorkshire. Sidonie’s family arrived in Richmond in November 1914, establishing their home at 10 Frenchgate. A total of 17 Belgians appear to have been made welcome in Richmond, with some also living at 10 Park Wynd. While Sidonie and her mother died during the war and were buried in Richmond in the town cemetery on Reeth Road, 15 of their friends and family returned to their native land when hostilities ceased. They were fit, safe and well thanks to the generosity and hospitality of the people of Richmond in their time of need. Photo submitted by Sara Cox.
Herbert Read served in the 2nd, 7th and 10th battalions of the Yorkshire Regiment from 1915 to 1918. During his time in service he was awarded the Military Cross for his actions in leading a trench raid, successfully securing a German prisoner for interrogation and a Distinguished Service Order for his role commanding the 2nd Battalion during the German Spring Offensive of March 1918. He published two volumes of war poetry during the conflict and is commemorated alongside Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey. He became a leading figure in the 20th Century, as curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum and Professor of Art at Edinburgh and Harvard Universities. He counted Picasso, Dali, Graham Greene, George Orwell, Peggy Guggenheim and Man Ray amongst his friends. A knighthood in 1953 (at the suggestion of Winston Churchill) came as a surprise to his circle of political associates. His headstone at St Gregory’s Minster near Helmsley reads ‘Knight, Poet, Anarchist’.