Belgian Exiles, the British and the Great War: The Birtley Belgians of Elisabethville

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Abstract

Located in Birtley, County Durham, the gated community of Elisabethville housed several thousand Belgians from 1916 until the aftermath of the Great War. Most residents were conscripted Belgian soldiers who constituted the workforce at the nearby National Projectile Factory. This article focuses on the complex relationship between the 'Birtley Belgians' and their host population. It thus covers issues such as wartime charity, Anglo-Belgian leisure-time interactions as well as debates about the exiles' moral and socio-economic impact. Moreover, the case of Elisabethville sheds light on several wider issues, from war-related displacement to the intersections between home front and battle front.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-131
JournalImmigrants & Minorities
Volume34
Issue number2
Early online date19 May 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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