Belgian refugees

Belgian refugees

Funds were raised in West Lothian for Belgian refugees and this was among the earliest good causes. About a quarter of a million of the refugees who fled the brutality of the German invading army were brought to the United Kingdom. Of these, some ten thousand were sent to Scotland. All of the Belgian refugees in Scotland were processed by the City of Glasgow Corporation.

West Lothian was not a 'receiving area' for refugees, because of its closeness to sensitive military sites like the River Forth and the Forth Bridge, but it was generous in helping the refugees. The Church of Scotland and United Free Church presbyteries of Linlithgow, West Lothian and Falkirk united to lease homes for some Belgian families in Slamannan. Some 17 families consisting of around 60 people were given accommodation and supported for most of the rest of the war.

Generosity towards the Belgian refugees began to wear thin as the war dragged on. Many of the men joined the army, or got jobs and became self-supporting. At the end of the war, they were repatriated to Belgium.

You can read more about West Lothian's contribution to the refugees in the attached newspaper cuttings.

©West Lothian Local History Library

For more information on any aspect of West Lothian and the First World War, contact localhistory@westlothian.gov.uk   -  http://www.westlothian.gov.uk/article/2055/Local-History-Library.

 

 

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Belgian refugees
Belgian refugees. © Imperial War Museum. IWM (Q 8285).