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.
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