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WWI Refugees at Burton Latimer

Back Row (L to R); Mdlle Marie Preckler, Mdlle Prudence Du Lys, Mons Jules Preckler, Mme Leoni Putters, Mons Victor Putters

2nd Row ( L to R); Mme Janet Sarraplen, Mdlle Marie Verald, Mons Peter Meyer, Mme Angelique Preckler (Seated Mdlle Leta Preckler)

In the Autumn of 1914, the prospect of Burton Latimer housing a number of refugees was raised at a public meeting held on 27th October. Mr F.T. Freestone, chairman of the Parish Council presided over the well attended gathering to discuss taking a number of Belgian citizens into the town.

Mr Freestone said that the Rector and Mrs Richardson had kindly offered to use several rooms of the Rectory for sleeping accomodation, and the large building in the Rectory grounds known as the Orchard-room for daytime accomodation. The offer from the Rector and his wife was accepted with thanks and provisions were made to take 10 to 15 refugees. Several other offers of accomodation were made, but these were deferred for the time being. A number of finacial offers were also made, and further arrangements were left in the hands of the organising committee.

A postcard to Mr & Mrs Stokes from Louis Mertens, a Belgian who had stayed with the family during his time in England

By March 1915, 10 refugees from Belgium were living in Burton, four of whom, the Precklers, were from the same family. All were housed in the Rectory and seemed happy. The parishioners were very generous towards their guests, and all had found work in the locality. Two Belgian priests from the front had been to visit - a brother and uncle of the Preckler family. The brother had been fortunate to escape injury on his journey, while staying one night in a Calais restaurant bombs had been dropped by a Zeppelin i that district killing three and wounding twenty.

Sadly, Madame Leoni Putters died in 1917 and is buried in Burton Latimer Cemetery. She had been living in Finedon Street and earned a living by teaching French.


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