#Story - Belgium

Children won't be spared

On 24 September, troops of the British 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division advanced from Postel, across the northern canal bank. At Voorheide, the Germans took them under fire. The towpath was also full of mines. Several British were killed. Nevertheless, the division took the village. But that did not restore peace. At night, hundreds of Germans counterattacked. The British could only just repel them.

Innocent casualty

The fighting continued for several days. Among the dozens of fatalities were Voorheid citizens. Hendrik and Octavie Koninckx lived in Grensstraat with their nine children. While British and Germans fought, they took shelter in the basement of their house. For days they sat there in the dark, with hardly any food.

That situation proved fatal to their four-month-old son Gerard. On 29 September, the baby died of deprivation. The family fled. A pillowcase served as a white flag; they carried the dead child with them. The Germans let them pass, impressed by the sad sight.

Little Gerard was buried in a makeshift soldiers' cemetery by the canal, along with the 18 Britons killed at Voorheide. A few days later all of Arendonk was liberated.