The Belgian letter

This is a letter sent from Arlou in Belgium on the 16th December 1945 to my mother and father on the birth of my brother John, who was born on the 14th November 1945. It’s from someone called A Kinnaert. It’s a congratulations to my parents on the birth of their son.

Our father was with the Guards Armoured Division in Belgium during World War 2 and, as I understand it, he was billeted later in the war with this Belgian family in the small village of Zetrud Lumay. I assume after the liberation of Brussels in the September of ’44. The Welsh Guards being the first troops to enter the City on the 2nd September.

The lady who wrote the letter found out that my father and mother were expecting John sometime, how she came to know about his birth is not known to me, but she did. She also took the trouble to write to him at his then home address in St Helens, Lancashire. Actually the home of my grandparents, and where my father was ‘thrown out’ when they found out their daughter was expecting me some 11 months later.

The letter was beautifully preserved in my late father’s paperwork. I wonder what became of A Kinneart, or who now lives at Chausse de Tirlemont 53, Zetrud Lumay, where she lived when my father as obliged to stay there. What other story might be behind the carefully chosen words in the letter? How did she find out about the birth of my brother? What became of the other soldiers mentioned in the letter? Were they, like my father, lucky enough to survive what was left of the War that liberated Europe?

I don’t expect to ever find out, but this might find someone who knows more than I do.

How strange that my son is now married to a Belgian, who lived not that far from Zetrud, and now lives in Sheffield and will be having a son in December, and will be one of my late father’s four great grandsons, the other three all born on my mother’s birthday. Bless them all!

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