Montgomery Club Brussels
photos de Christian MORIAS
Merci à Dominique Vanderbiest pour la photo
Memories of times in Belgium
Journey from Tilbury to Oostende
We were met by army trucks at Oostende to take us to Neerijse. We were a mixed heavy ack ack (anti aircraft) battery and most of us had seen service on the south coast of England. As far as I remember the girls were all volunteers and operated the instruments (predictors, height-finder and radar) while the men manned the guns.
The thaw was just starting when we arrived at the site, so we had some very muddy boots and had to be issued with wellington boots to keep our feet dry. Soon after we moved in the boy Lucien approached us and thought that as we were British we might know where the soldiers who had recently passed through the village might be. One of them had befriended him but unfortunately we could not help
As you can see from the photograph he became attached to us – we noticed that one of his hands must have been injured at some time.
It must have been through Maria that we got to know the Michiels family who so kindly welcomed us into their home. It is a pity I did not keep in touch, but time goes by and events overcome us. There may have been sons but if so they kept in the background and it is Maria and her parents that I remember most.
Sometimes we were taken to a place in Louvain for showers as bathing facilities in the camp were rudimentary
Showers and bathing place at Louvai called “Den Bain”.
I remember a café we frequented in Neerijse where there was usually an accordionist playing. It was there we met and became friendly with Spanish soldiers were stationed nearby. They were lovely dancers.
Mary Churchill was also a member of our group in Neerijse.
She found a place too stay by the family Francome, .but also she went too the castel in Huldenberg.
Our battery started breaking up towards the end of the war as there was no more fear of air raids.
Some of our officer had gone and we all awaited postings to new units.
It was in the café I mentioned that we heard Winston Churchill on radio officially announce the end of the war.
To keep us occupied as we awaited posting, we were told we could help at a clinic in the village.
We did some light tasks there and I like to think we brightened up the patients’ lives and caused them some amusement.
Our time at Neerijse was coming to an end and I, with some others was transferred to the Royal Corps of Signals and sent to Helmond to be trained as teleprinter operators. At the end of our training I was returned to Belgium, this time to Brussels to work at the then Brussels Garrison.
I was billeted at the Hotel Splendide in the Avenue Louise. Our favourite place of entertainment in Brussels was the Palace d’Egmont (then known as the Montgomery Club) and used by British personnel. A very magnificent place.
I was demobbed at Redford Barracks in Edinburgh in March 1946 and began the strange task of becoming a civilian again….but that’s another story..
Thank you for taking the time to speak to my mother and I when we visited Neerijse. It was kind of you to take time to speak to us in the cafe. You asked us to copy the photographs we had of Neerijse in 1945 and we will do so as soon as possible. Again, thank you for your help. David Forbes
Hello Christian, thanks for the email. I have been trying to send the photographs as an attachment to send to you with an email. This is my first time for trying this and I have had a few problems. Hopefully I will succeed in doing this and send you the pictures in the next few days. Sorry for the delay and thanks again for agreeing to help us. David Forbes
Hello Christian, here are copies of the photographs we showed you when we spoke in the cafe. I hope they are useful to you in finding information on the people in them. The couple in the lower picture are Mr and Mrs Michiels and their daughter’s name was Maria (who is in the other photo) The little boy in the other picture with my mother and two of her friends from the ATS base near Neerijse is called Lucien. I have used my girlfriend’s email address because I have had problems sending them as an attachment from my hotmail address. Thanks again for your help, David Forbes.
Hello Christian, I hope you are well. I just thought I’d send a short mail to find out if you received my last mail of about June 19th/20th (I think). In it I sent my mother’s recollections of her stay in Neerijse as you requested. I have received no reply and this made me wonder if you got my mail (sometime emails do not get through). Please let me know if this is so, and I will send another email with my mother’s recollections. Thanks again, David
hello Christian, sorry I’ve taken such a long time to contact you again…summer time things to do. This is just to let you know that I will send my mother’s memories of 1945 today or tomorrow. Hope