Grave of Magdalena de Bock, Greenford Park Cemetery, Windmill Lane

You can also visit the home page at Greenford 365.

Ten years ago today I created the 171st post for Greenford 365. To mark the blog’s anniversary I will attempt to post a photo every day throughout 2022.

Refugees are often in the news in the UK. Last year the withdrawal of British forces from Afghanistan meant that many of those marked out for persecution because they had assisted them needed to find a safe haven. This year the Russian invasion of Ukraine saw a massive movement of people to other countries, including the UK. It is Refugee Week (20-26 June 2022), a joint initiative by a number of organisations including UNHCR, Amnesty International, the British Red Cross, and Freedom From Torture to raise awareness of the problems faced by them and the support being provided for them.

Many here are unaware that this country took in a quarter of a million Belgian refugees just over a century ago, at the start of the First World War. There are many parallels, Belgians fled their country in fear of torture, murder and rape, and although it seems hard to believe that this could happen again in the 21st century there is evidence that similar atrocities are being perpetrated in Afghanistan and Ukraine, as well as in other areas around the world.

There is little evidence left of that considerable Belgian presence but this is one example of it. This is grave 10491, a plot that holds the remains of several people whose relatives were not able to purchase their own. One of them was a seven month old baby called Magdalena de Bock, who was born near the refugee camp at Earl’s Court and died there in 1916. It is not something we think of, the dead that were left behind, but it must have been heartbreaking for her family when they returned home. Thanks to the work of researchers the Belgian refugee presence and contribution is being acknowledged and I hope that this will take the form of a memorial at Greenford Park Cemetery at some point.

You can read about Magdalena here.

Images and text ©Albertina McNeill 2022. Please do not reproduce without permission. All rights reserved. Do not add any of these images to Pinterest or similar sites as this will be regarded as a violation of copyright.

This entry was published on June 20, 2022 at 12:20 pm. It’s filed under People, Places and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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