Thursday, 21 July 2016

Gabrielle de Monge (1883 – 1929) – First World War Belgian Resistance Worker

As today is the National Day of Belgium (21st July), I thought it appropriate to include a Belgian woman whose bravery was outstanding during the First World War.

Gabrielle was born in 1883 in Ohey, near Namur.  Gabrielle lived at the Chateau de Wallay-Reppe in Ohey.
 
During the First World War, Gabrielle de Monge, who had the title the Vicomtesse de Franceau, helped to evacuate French soldiers who were trapped behind enemy lines.   The soldiers were conducted to safety, using a chain of stately homes owned by Belgium’s aristocracy and then guided over the border into neutral Holland.  In all, Gabrielle saved the lives over 80 soldiers.

However, on her thirteenth journey with a group of French soldiers in January 1916, Gabrielle was apprehended, arrested and put in prison in Liege.  Transferred to Brussels, she was tried and sentenced to three years’ hard labour before being sent to the Siegburg Prison which was near Cologne in Germany.  

After the war, Gabrielle was awarded the French Legion d’Honneur medal and wrote about her experiences in a book entitled “Les heures tragiques de ma vie” (The tragic hours of my life), which she had published. 

Sadly, Gabrielle never recovered from the harsh treatment she received during her time as a prisoner of war and she died in a Convent in Belgium at the age of 46.

There is a Place Gabrielle de Monge in her home town of Ohey in Belgium dedicated to her memory.

Source:  http://www.ohey.be/personnages-celebres

With many thanks to Andrew Morgan who kindly sent me a copy of “Did you say Belgian Heroes?! Episode 2 WW1 and WW2” published by the Belgian Tourist Office, where you will find Gabrielle’s story on page 53.

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