Maria-Mathilde Bosteels

First NameMaria-Mathilde
Middle Name
Last NameBosteels née Van der Elst
GenderFemale
Family MembersEugeen Marie Bosteels (spouse), Marie-Jeanne Bosteels (child)
LanguagesFrench, Flemish, English
Arrival in the UK16 October 1914
NotesDetails from a journal held in the Imperial War Museum, London, written by her husband, Eugeen-Marie Bosteels. Private Papers of E Bosteels, Object number Documents.3936 "Ms journal (170pp) written in English in February-March 1915 and covering the period circa 11-17 October 1914 and describing Eugeen Bosteels' experiences and feelings living with his wife, Mathilde, and seven children, and brothers-in-law and their families, in Le Panne, Belgium, after moving from their home town of Aalst, during the early part of the war, hearing the sounds of the German advances, hiring a wagon and setting out for Bray Dunes (14 October), seeing Belgian Army units of the Fourth Division going through Adinkerke towards Ypres, the chaos and confusion on the roads with soldiers and civilians heading for France, his sorrow at crossing the border into France at Ghyvelde and leaving Flanders behind, trying to get a train from Bray Dunes to Dunkirk, but having to get a later train as he would not be able to take luggage earlier, his frustration with the French train staff and other French Officials and their unhelpful and superior attitude, as well as the confusion over trains to Calais, arrival in Dunkirk and there being no hotels for refugees, being told to take a train to Calais in the evening, but being forced to pay the supplementary fare from Dunkirk, all hotels in Calais being full due to the soldiers and refugees, meeting a French chemist and soldier, Leon Tourlinnie, who let him and his family stay in his apartments overnight as he pitied the children, learning that strangers could not stay in Calais longer than two days due to the influx of refugees, realising that they could go to England to avoid the German advance, young Belgian men fleeing to avoid the Germans and trying to sign up, the Belgian Army arriving from Antwerp, the lack of respect or empathy the majority of French showed to the Belgian soldiers and that later the English soldiers would show greater friendship to the Belgians than the French, not knowing much about England but deciding to move to England, boarding the steamship LE NORD (16 October 1914), the crowds trying to board, sailing to Folkestone, Kent, being told that the War Refugees Committee would help them but deciding to take lodgings with their own funds, a Belgian friend taking them to a boarding house, reading an advert for a house to rent in “Le Franco-Belge” refugee newspaper, and moving to Ramsgate. He describes the chaos of the Belgian Army's retreat, the movements of refugees, the attitudes of the French officials, and the help and hindrance they received. The volume, also contains sundry language exercises, and drafts of some letters, written in February and March 1915, to friends and acquaintances, including Fritz De Wolf, Burgomaster of Wespelaar, and also to his nephews Prosper and Edgard now at Tonbridge school, encouraging them to learn, and to write to him, in English, and to take advantage of the kind opportunity they have been given. Throughout his stilted English has additions and corrections in red ink written by his landlords, Mr and Mrs Lanchester, and who were helping him with his English, in Weybridge to which the family moved, when Mr Bosteels got a job with Vickers."
Belgian Addresses
  • Aalst, Belgium
UK Addresses
  • Adelaide Gardens, Ramsgate, UK
  • Weybridge, UK

Aalst, Belgium

Adelaide Gardens, Ramsgate, UK

Weybridge, UK