THE HALL OF HONOURS
The Evaders' Cross Group of Lievin Dewaele
© Hendrik Meersschaert, 2007 - 2017
Lievin Dewaele was born on 26 December 1926 in Destelbergen, a small village near Ghent in the East Flanders province of Belgium. When war broke out, he left school to work in a bakery. Later, in 1942, aged 16 and realizing he may be called upon to work in Germany, he and a friend started thinking about evading and joining the Belgian forces in Great Britain.
Putting their plans into action, both friends boarded a train from the Ghent railroad station one day early in 1943 and travelled first to Kortrijk and then onwards, via Lille, to Paris in occupied France. From there, a further train journey took them via Bordeaux to the town of Dax close to the border of Vichy France. There they were stopped by German Police but, thanks to the timely help of a couple of "ladies of easy virtue" who distracted the police officers by getting them drunk, managed to cross the border at Arthez.
Travelling through Pau and crossing the Pyrenees into Spain (near Montléon) on foot, they were arrested in Baurealta and imprisoned in the "Prison Provincal" of Pamplona. Pressure exercised by the British Embassy finally resulted into their release from the bad conditions of Spanish jails - Lievin weighed only 35 kg when released - and they were put under house arrest first in Lecumberri and later in Cestona. Eventually the two friends were sent to Portugal and were able to continue their journey via Gibraltar to reach England. Lievin's Belgian passport, issued in Lisbon and which has survived, shows him entering Great Britain end of August 1943.
Not yet 17 years of age, he promptly joined the Belgian forces on 4 September and would remain in military service till well into 1946. During that time and serving with the Belgian "Brigade Piron" (in the anti-tank company), he landed in Normandy (at Arromanches on 6 August 1944, exactly two months after D-Day). During the brigade's fighting to liberate the Calvados area, Lievin was wounded by shrapnel at Salenelles.
Later, the brigade was actively engaged in the liberation of Belgium and liberated its capital, Brussels. After being temporarily stationed in Vilvoorde, near Brussels, the brigade was involved in the liberation of the Netherlands and, end 1944, Lievin was wounded once more. A bullet above the knee saw to Lievin returning to Belgium for treatment in the town of Sint-Niklaas. When returning to duty, the war was over and he rejoined his unit in Germany, near Soest. End July 1946, he was demobilized with the rank of Sergeant and returned to civilian life. He would eventually take up employment with the Belgian national electricity company.
Lievin Dewaele died on 31 May 2005 - He will be remembered ...
For his services, Lievin Dewaele was entitled to the following decorations and medals :
- Order of Leopold II, Knight class with silver "40-45" crossed swords device
- War Cross 1940 with bronze lion device
- Evaders' Cross
- Volunteer Medal 1940-45
- Medal of the Combattant War Volunteer
- Commemorative Medal of the War 1940-1945 with crossed sabres and "NORMANDIE" and "CANAL DE WESSEM" bars
- Medal of the Military Fighter of the War 1940-45
- Military Decoration 2nd Class
- Civil Decoration, Cross 2nd class (not within the medal group)
United Kingdom :
- The 1939-45 Star
- The France & Germany Star
- The Defence Medal (not within the medal group)
- The Medal of Liberated France