Local Resident to Share Experiences During the Belgian Resistance

Thursday, March 26, 2009

 

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Fernande Davis of Gwynedd, Pa. will share her story as a young girl growing up at the time of the Belgian Resistance of World War II in the lecture, “She Chose to Resist: Fernande Davis and the Belgian Underground” at Chestnut Hill College on March 26, 2009 at 1 p.m. in the Redmond Room, St. Joseph Hall.  The lecture is sponsored by the French and History Departments at Chestnut Hill.

Ms. Davis’ talk is based on her recently published memoir, “Girl in the Belgian Resistance: A Wakeful Eye in the Underground,” a recount of how her courage and bravery helped combat oppression in a world torn apart by war.

Ms. Davis was 16 years old living in the small town of Montzen, Beligium, when World War II exploded at her doorstep, forcing her to leave her home to work at the home of a family friend in Andenne, Belgium.

When Andenne was taken by the Germans, she fled to Beauvais, France on bicycle, escaping capture by pretending to be German and agreeing to be an army translator. After tricking the soldiers, she was on the run again and traveled back to Belgium.

After a brief reunion with her family, she was then drafted to work in an ammunition factory in Poland. Refusing to work for the “Reich,” she jumped from the train and traveled to Liege, where her uncle lived. Her uncle obtained false identification and working papers for her, which allowed her to go work for the underground, or the maquis. Her adventures in the underground included dangerous missions to bring false identification to American and British fighter pilots to avoid arrest by the Gestapo.

At the end of the war, she was reunited with her family in Montzen and met an American soldier fighting in the 29th Infantry Division. After four years of separation, they married in 1949 and moved to Doylestown, Pa. Ms. Davis went on to get a degree in French and to teach at a local college and schools, including Germantown Academy. Her book is available from Beach Lloyd Publishers.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Dr. Lorraine Coons, chair of the History and Political Science Department at 215.248.7184 or e-mail lcoons@chc.edu.