The Commemorative Plaque
Introduction and Church Service
The sudden and premature death of Marthe Janssen-Leyder on 10th November 1946, whilst on a visit to England, and her subsequent burial in the Leyder Family Tomb at New Southgate Cemetery in London, meant that many family members and friends could not attend her funeral in England. Back in Belgium, the Official Authorities in Limburg and the local Secret Army and White Brigade Organisations had the idea of placing a granite plaque to honour her memory and her heroism on the wall outside her house in the Village of Eisden. A Requiem Mass was planned followed by a special ceremony at the site of the plaque so that her family, friends and colleagues in the Resistance could pay their respects to her memory.
Click on the music notes below to listen to the music of your choice:
The stone was inscribed with the symbol of the Belgian Secret Army and the words (in Flemish) "Here Dwelt our Faithful and Courageous Member". It was put in place under the cover of darkness on the night of 18th January 1947, ready for the official unveiling ceremony on 20th January 1947. A photocopy of the formal notification of her death and the invitation to attend this ceremony, sent out on behalf of all the bereaved relatives (including my family) is shown below.
On the day, a special Mass attended by family, friends and colleagues was held at the Church of St. Willibrord.
Inside the Church was a catafalque covered with the Belgian Flag and the Union Jack. A wreath of poppies stood out against the black section of the Belgian Flag. In front of the catafalque lay some magnificent bouquets of flowers as well as a large metal wreath - a mark of respect from the Belgian Army. Around the catafalque, eight men dressed in the uniform of the Resistance stood motionless. Facing the altar, were innumerable flags of patriotic and other organisations. In the front row, the family and, behind, all the official guests. A children's choir sang exquisitely. The organ played a Bach prelude, a Beethoven symphony and the Funeral March, and then, a poignant moment, the silence was broken by a famous voice softly singing:-
A recent view of the inside of the Church
This poignant service was followed by the inauguration and blessing of the Commemorative Plaque outside Number 44, Dorpstraat. We have three old photographs which provide a pictorial memory of this event [see next page].
Copyright © 2001-2005 Tessa Steer (Leyder) / Van Hecke Family - All Rights Reserved Worldwide