Bombings and explosions
Emilie S. was hit on 26 September 1918 by aerial bomb fragments leaving her with a large surface-area wound on her back and 2 missing teeth.
KOEKELAERE 1918 : A MOTHER INJURED. Emilie S. was born on 12 November 1880 in Koekelare, very near to Westhoek. After marrying Henri O. in 1882, their 3 children were born between 1909 and 1914. On 16 September 1918, during the final offensive launched by the allied troops, Emilie was hit by flying shrapnel. Bed-ridden because of her serious injuries, Emilie was unable to work for a month.
1918, VESSEL TORPEDOED OFF THE OSTEND COAST. 33-year-old Médard R. and his wife Eugénie V. had a 5-year-old daughter, Léonie. A seaman from Ostend, he had a steamship called, the “Paul”. On 26 September 1918, at the break of dawn, he was torpedoed by a German submarine.
It was already light and the visibility was good. A submarine suddenly arrived from the starboard side of the vessel and launched an attack. It was too late to warn the captain! As the ship started to sink the men dived into the water and those who could swim stayed afloat on pieces of timber but the others drowned. Médard was one of those who could not swim…..
SEARCHING FOR MISSING PERSONS. The survivors were rescued by the trawler “Richard Bulkeley” and taken to Withby. On 27 September, they were moved to Middlesbrough, then to Newcastle. One of the 2 patrol boats that assisted the survivors remained on the spot, looking for those who were missing, but to no avail. Médard had drowned.
MARIAKERKE 1918 : COUPLE KILLED DURING THE FINAL HOSTILITIES. Adolf Van M. was born on 17 February 1882 in Mariakerke. He was married but had no children. During the final hostilities, Adolf and his wife were killed by the Germans. His parents, Petrus (72) and Mélania (69) sought compensation after the war. A few days before the Armistic, Adolf Van W. and his wife were at home in Mariakerke. The first Belgians were returning to the country. The Germans burst into their home on the pretext of having spotted some Belgian soldiers. As they were unable to get away in time Adolf’s wife died on the spot, while Adolf was transported to the hospital in Bruges, where he died from his injuries the next day.
ERQUELINNES, 1915 : A BARN FULL OF SHELLS. 42-year-old Alfred B. was a married man with two teenage children, Germaine and Marthe. He lived in the village of Grand-Reng, where he worked as a day labourer. Alfred’s barn was filled with shells that German soldiers had left as they were passing through. The year was 1914. Alfred was anxious to protect his children and prevent them having any accidents with the shells should they enter the barn. He decided to take the ammunition elsewhere and bury it.
On 1 April 1915, Alfred decided to act. He was unaware of the real danger involved and did not know how to handle the ammunition safely. He knocked the shells together when trying to move them. One of them suddenly exploded, throwing Alfred to the ground and ripping off one of his arms and a leg. The raging fire that broke out in the barn spread to the house. Alfred perished in the midst of the inferno but his wife and children fortunately managed to escape.