RUTHER­GLEN

In last week’s Re­former we re­ported on the Syr­ian refugees. As we stand on the brink of ac­cept­ing peo­ple flee­ing terror, we look at­the for­got­ten asy­lum seek­ers of­World War One

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Dou­glas Dickie

In 1914, Bri­tain held out its hand to the peo­ple of a small coun­try, less than 100 years old, who were faced with one of the great­est mil­i­tary on­slaughts of all time.

On Au­gust 4 that year, the Ger­man army at­tacked the neu­tral state of Bel­gium as they tried to make a quick break­through to France and the English Chan­nel ports. The as­sault was the fi­nal spark in bring­ing the UK into the con­flict which be­came known as the Great War. The breach of Bel­gian neutrality was viewed by many as the most heinous crime the Ger­man’s could com­mit. Around 250,000 refugees from ‘plucky lit­tle Bel­gium’ made their way to the UK in those early days of WWI, a fig­ure dwarfed the mil­lions seek­ing to flee Syria.

Around 100 of them, although prob­a­bly more, made it to Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang.

And they were met with an out­pour­ing of hu­man­ity.

Ru­glo­ni­ans wel­comed whole fam­i­lies into their homes. Fifty-two were in­vited to stay at Spring­hall House and Farm. The Bel­gians were of­fi­cially called “guests of the Ruther­glen Cor­po­ra­tion”.

The Re­former ran ar­ti­cles about events to raise funds, in­clud­ing a grand con­cert at the Town Hall. The piece reads: “The pro­gramme is sus­tained by lo­cal favourites and by pa­tro­n­is­ing this con­cert not only will the Bel­gians in our midst be re­lieved, but a mu­si­cal treat is as­sured to all.”

The con­cert was pro­moted by Mr Craw­ford, the Parish Church or­gan­ist who was “anx­ious to hand over a hand­some sum to this very laud­able fund”.

Peo­ple were very gen­er­ous, they seemed to open up their homes, of­fered food and clothes

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