William Reynolds

"A very great hero, who gave his life and all that he possesed for the liberty of the United Kingdom and the Allied cause."
                               A. J. Verbanis

William Reynolds was born in Brighton on the 11th May 1890 he was one of eleven children (five girls and six boys) of Robert James and Charlotte REYNOLDS nee Galton. His father, Robert James REYNOLDS born in Lancashire seems an interesting man, in the 1901 census he is described as a Gymnastics Instructor, Cycle agent and Athletic outfitter, shopkeeper of 23 Bristol Road, Queens Park, Brighton. In earlier 1881 census he is an army staff sergeant.


William was 24 years old when the First World War started He joined the 16th Queen's Lancers Regimentand the family believe that at one stage he was nursed by Edith Cavell's nurses one of who was a Belgian girl Honorine Servais who had been born in Engreux in the Belgian province of Luxembourg.
William married Honorine after the war in Belgium in 1918 and they ran a a cafe and boarding house in Middelkerke on the Belgian coast. The photographs below show Honorine and William and William standing outside his establisment "Chez Willy" the Cafe Anglo-Belge in Middelkerke.


When the Second World War started Willie and his wife decided to stay in Belgium and not return to England. After the German attack and the occupation of Belgium Willie and his wife were interned by the Germans. They were held in Heysel a suburb of Brussels but seemed to have been released or escaped. Willie and his wife then worked as butler and cook respectively to a Madame Pauline Lambiotte of 91 Rue de Livourne Ixelles Brussels. Like the other Escape Line founders Willie started out by visiting British soldiers who were being treated in hospitals in Brussels. On one such visit to a wounded Britiash soldier at the Edith Cavell Institute, Willie met William Halot of 36 Avenue Jeanne Brussels one of the founders of the escape organisation.
In a letter written in February 1946 William Halot tells the story.

" In September 1940, at the bedside of a badly wounded English prisoner who was being cared for at the Edith Cavell Institute, I met Reynolds, and immediately realised I could trust him completely and I had no hesitation in asking for shelter for escaped English prisoners.
William Reynolds put me in touch , particularily , with Jean Vandenhove, 66 Rue Washington, Brussels, who between 1940 and his arrest in the beginning of October 1941, sheltered some fifty escaped prisoners and airmen.
Independantly of his activities in connection with the shelter and evacuation of allied escaped prisoners and airmen, William reynolds occupied an important posistion in a spy organisatio, right outside my activities.
William Reynolds was arrested towards the end of January 1942, having been denounced by Mr and Mrs Engels of rue Antoine Breartt St Gilles Brussels, whose revelations were the cause of about 60 arrests.
In spite of the affirmations of Mrs Engels and her husband, and the brutality of the questioners, William Reynolds maintained, on all occasions when we were brought face to face, as arranged, that we had never met."

William Reynolds' grave at the time of re-burial in Ixelles cemetary and in October 2007.

Edith Hardy

In all my research on the early evaders and escape lines in Brussels one person's name is consistently mentioned throughout the war as being involved in escape lines, resistance work and the hiding of evaders, that of Edith Hardy. I have set out to find out exactly who she was, what she did and why she her name is not more widely known. The research has not been easy it has been very difficult to find out much about her but I have decided to publish on this website what I know in the hope that it will flush out further information.

Edith Hardy was born as Edith May Bagshaw in Aston, Birmingham England on the 31st May 1899. Her parents were Edward William Bagshaw a grocer and Kate Bagshaw nee Greenhouse. Edith had three elder brothers, Edward Orlando born in 1891, Oswald Samuel born 26th Dec 1892, William Frederick born 1896 and one younger brother, Harold Gordon, born in March 1901 who died when he was 10 years old.
In the 1901 & 1911 English Census' the family lived at 30 Muntz Street in Small Heath, Birmingham.

On the 19th January 1918 Edith, giving her address as "The Nook" Florence Road, Acocks Green joined the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps. She was to be stationed at the Edgbaston Stores, Park Road , Birmingham in a Clerical job, on the 1st April 1918 she was transferred to the Women's Royal Air Force.
Just after the end of the First World War on the 11th December 1919 Edith was married in Birmingham Cathedral to a Belgian gentleman, Georges Auguste Marie Antoine Rudolpe Van-den-Hove whose father, Auguste Francois Marie Joseph Van-den-Hove had before his death been Commandant of the Belgian 2nd Lancers Regiment. On the marriage certificate Georges is shown as a bachelor aged 29 of 88a Dale End and Edith aged 20 a spinster of The Hook, Florence Road, Acotts Green. Her father Edward William is no longer a grocer but now a gentleman like his new son-in-law.

So now we can see the Belgian connection to Edith's life, I presume the newly weds left for Belgium some time in the near future but I know nothing of Ediths's life until the Second World War starts and Belgium is invaded in 1940. By then Edith had become Edith Hardy the wife of a Belgian, Felix Hardy, I don't know how Edith's marriage to Van-den-hove ended.
Back in Birmingham in July 1940 her brother Edward Orlando Bagshaw a Volunteer in the 32nd Warwickshire Home Guard dies on the 31st aged 49. How he died is not known, but it is too early to have been killed in the air-raids which only began on the 8th August that year.

Arrested at home 26/01/1944 for assistance with the enemy (she was an agent of the S.R.A.; Service de Renseignements et d’Action – the general designation of the intelligence services). - Transferred to the prison of Saint-Gilles, where she stayed from 26/01/1944 to 18/08/1944.
- Transfer for Germany issued by the military government 21/07/1944.
- Entry at Ravensbrück Camp 30/12/1944.
- Entry at Mauthausen Camp 7/03/1945.
- Deceased in Mauthausen 15/03/1945.

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© John Clinch 2006