Sidonie van Eepoel

Timelines: Ribbon of Remembrance Sidonie van Eepoel
Announcement Date: July 3, 2018

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.

An extract from L’Echo de Belgique, which reveals the family were from Heyst-op-den-Berg near Antwerp.

Return to the ribbon

Explore more memories from the ribbon

  • Metcalfe Close

    Submitted by Pat Burgess. Ralph Metcalfe and Elizabeth Close were possibly unmarried when their eldest son was born towards the end of 1893 at Gunnerside. Hence he was given his father’s surname as a christian name and his mothers surname name. Ralph and Elizabeth were both born in Swaledale, he in Muker, and she at Melbecks. In 1901 the family, which now included another two sons and two daughters, was living at Fell House, Hartley, Nr. Kirkby Stephen. Metcalfe enlisted at Richmond, as it appears he was working at Browson Bank Farm, on the A66, at that time. His Battalion was sent to fight in Palestine, where sadly he contracted malaria and died on 14 June 1918. He is buried in Gaza War Cemetery.

  • Albert Norris

    265990 Private Albert Norris served in the Yorkshire Regiment, joining up sometime after January 1915. For his service during the First World War he was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal. He was transferred to the Royal Munster Fusiliers and served at the garrison in Cork. Following the war, he ran a Draper’s shop in Tonbridge, Kent. In 1924 He married Myra Donovan. Albert’s step granddaughter is Dame Kelly Holmes, double Olympic Champion.

  • Lt Turnbull

    Sumbitted by John Young. My great uncle David Stevens Gibson Turnbull, the elder brother of my grandmother, was born in Edinburgh on 7th September 1890. Educated at The Edinburgh Academy and Uppingham School he went on to Edinburgh University. There he learned to fly, although he did not qualify as a pilot at that stage. He married early in 1914 and emigrated to Australia where he planned to start life in Harvey, West Australia, as a fruit farmer. However, following the outbreak of war on 4th August 1914, he returned to Scotland to fight for his country. Initially he joined the Black Watch as the family had strong connections with my home town of Auchterarder in Perthshire. He was posted to 3/6th Battalion one of the sister battalions to that in which his brother-in-law (Major TE Young) was already serving. However, he had the flying bug and on 25th March 1916 he joined the Royal Flying Corps. He initially trained as an Observer but after a short period with No3 squadron RFC in France he returned to train as a pilot. He gained his pilot’s licence at Shoreham on 5th June 1916. He joined No 10 Squadron RFC, equipped with BE 2c aircraft, on 8th July 1916 and a few days later made his first operational sortie. He flew on operations for the next 7 months; engaged in artillery spotting, light bombing and aerial photography. Having survived this operational tour he was posted back to England for duty as a…