Thursday, 3 September 2009


This little brooch was among my Grandmother’s jewellery and depicts a dog cart with milk churns on it. Anvers is an alternative name for the city we in Britain know as Antwerp, in Belgium.

My mother could recall the days of dog carts and even rode in one. I believe this brooch dates from World War I when a number of Nana’s cousins and other relatives were on the continent fighting. (Sadly a number of our relatives did not make it back.)

The city of Antwerp was seriously damaged in World War I when it was captured by the Germans in October 1914, after a 12-day siege. The city had become the fallback point of the Belgian Army after the defeat at Liège. On 5 October 1914, Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, went to Antwerp which the Belgian government proposed to evacuate. The Royal Marine Brigade was there and at Churchill’s urgings the 1st and 2nd Naval Brigades were also committed. Antwerp fell on 10 October with the loss of 2500 men. At the time Chruchill was attacked for squandering resources. It is more likely that his actions prolonged the resistance by a week (Belgium had proposed surrendering Antwerp on 3 October) and that this time saved Calais and Dunkirk.

The mayor of Antwerp, Jan De Vos, offered the formal capitulation on October 10 and the Siege of Antwerp was over. The city of Antwerp would remain occupied by German troops until November 1918.

One third of the Belgian Army, about 30,000 soldiers, fled north to the Netherlands, followed by one million civilian refugees in 1914. The Netherlands interned Belgian refugees as far as possible from the Belgian border, for fear of being drawn into the conflict. Many of the refuges continued living in the Netherlands after 1918 and never returned to Belgium.

Whether the brooch was bought during the time before the German invasion or in 1918 when it was freed, I have no way of knowing.



  1. How lovely to have such a piece to recapture times.

  2. 'Recapture' being a very appropriate word in the circumstances!


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