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FLIGHT FROM ANTWERP

REFUGEES STREAM INTO HOLLAND. The stream of Belgian rotugoes, an al- i most endless procession of paiuc-stncken | people, which has been parsing without j restraint the little red, white, and blue pests marking the border ot tno peaceful j kingdom of the Netherlands, at last is glowing less turbulent. Probably 400,000 have come rushing into Holland since Antwerp fell (says tut Hooeviidaai correspondent of too' San Francisco * Chronicle,’ under date October 19). Tiro little town of Esschcn, where the dazed Belg.aus took a tearful farewell of their own couutiy, quadrupled in population in a week. i ire four bake shops were besieged by the starving fugitives. The oilaptdatod border station, where thousands slept, was in the hands of German sailors, wno were selling tickets for trains drawn by Belgian locomotives, manned by engineers ox til© German navy and by sa’ilois—big fellows from the harbors of Hamburg ana Bremen, the Germans have been endeavoring to induce trie reiugees to return to tueir homes aud resume their vocations. idbcaen was tne centre of the panic which followed Antwerp's tail. A great majority of the residents of Antvveip hud been told repeatedly that their city was the strongest fortress in Europe. They remained peaceably in their homes, and lustily cheered the British naval brigades, who arrived with motor trucks and machine guns, believing that their numbers were ten times greater than they were. Personal inconvtn.ence, such as the absence of water for ten days, the erty in darkness after 6 o’clock, and tho refusal of permission to Belgians outside the city to enter, did not lessen the cheerful optimism of the people. Then the Governor of Antwerp signed a proclamation which fell like a bombshell: “ History toadies us how sometimes fortified cities have been subjected to bombardment. Therefore, everybody is warned to leave the city, if possible, before 2 o'clock in the afternoon.” Tho ceaseless flight towards Esschcn began immediately. Frenzied thousands rushed homeward, packed their valuables in sheets, towels, and bedspreads, strapped children on their backs or placed them in wheelbarrows and hastened to the nearest station. There was no necessity for tickets. Tho trains gathered in people like cattle. Freight ears, cattle cars, milk vane, beer vans,' cold storage cars—anything and everything on wheels—started northward. This lasted five days. Passengers were on the roofs, on the steps of locomotives, and any foothold they could find. Usually the distance between Antwerp and Esschen is covered in 20 minutes. The refugee trains took six hours. Then followed another slow ride tiirough Roceendfi.il, where, by a common impulse, the residents carried everything eatable towards the station. Ihe Hutch soldiers, lined up in solid rows, pushed the baskets of food in the windows and coaxed the babies, tho children, and women to cat and drink, and then they escorted tne frightened thousands to schools, theatres, barracks, and barns, where shelter awaited them. The welcome was rather elementary, but it was warn-hearted. The Dutch supplied the refugee's with the best they had, although sometimes it was only brown bread and cold water, for those who had lived luxuriously in their Belgian homes. For the sick and lame there were woollen blankets, into which they bundled. Kooftsndaal had too few ambulances to accommodate the hundreds of insane and those suffering from incurable disease who had been released pell-mell from Antwerp insflutions and crowded into these trains. On© train of eight cattle cars contained onlv former inmates of asylums for the insane. They were treated as far as possible in the neighboring Dutch institutions. At Nispen, where a barbed-wire fence marks the frontier, the peasant population came afoot like a medieval tribe migrating, with cows, pigs, mattresses, and whatever else they deemed most precious, the old people and children not knowing where they were going, seeking only to escape the terrible bombardment which had ncen ringing in their cars for days.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD19141205.2.57

Bibliographic details

FLIGHT FROM ANTWERP, Evening Star, Issue 15668, 5 December 1914

Word Count
646

FLIGHT FROM ANTWERP Evening Star, Issue 15668, 5 December 1914

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