Veteran Stories:
Maurice Delhaise

Army

  • Maurice Delhaise later in his life. Collection courtesy of Maurice's grandson, Paul Delhaise.

    Maurice Delhaise later in his life. Collection courtesy of Maurice's grandson, Paul Delhaise.
  • Document marking the occasion when Maurice Delhaise was mentioned in dispatches by Field Marshal Dir Douglas Haig. This certificate was signed by then-Secretary of State for War, Winston Churchill, on March 1, 1919.

    Document marking the occasion when Maurice Delhaise was mentioned in dispatches by Field Marshal Dir Douglas Haig. This certificate was signed by then-Secretary of State for War, Winston Churchill, on March 1, 1919.
  • Maurice Delhaise was a very decorated soldier. His many medals include this one, the Beligian Civil Decoration 1914-1918.

    Maurice Delhaise was a very decorated soldier. His many medals include this one, the Beligian Civil Decoration 1914-1918.
  • The Begian War Cross 1914-1918 awarded for an act of bravery against the enemy.

    The Begian War Cross 1914-1918 awarded for an act of bravery against the enemy.
  • On the 15th of November 1955, King Beaudouin of Belgium named Maurice Delhaise as Knight of the Order of Léopold. He received the Civilian Decoration of the Order on the 16th of January 1956 by the Minister of Justice at Grasse in the Maritime Alpes.

    On the 15th of November 1955, King Beaudouin of Belgium named Maurice Delhaise as Knight of the Order of Léopold. He received the Civilian Decoration of the Order on the 16th of January 1956 by the Minister of Justice at Grasse in the Maritime Alpes.
  • Medal of the Order of the British Empire, Military Division 1918.

    Medal of the Order of the British Empire, Military Division 1918.
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Transcript

My name is Commander Paul Delhaise. I've been in the military now for almost twenty-seven years, and I'm going to talk today about my grandfather. His name is Maurice Delhaise, and he was in the Belgian Army in World War I.

He was a spy during that period, and he was a courier, mainly. So there's not too much information about exactly what he did, but you could certainly imagine what a spy would be doing.

After World War I, he was involved as a jail inspector in Belgium, and eventually, when World War II came around, they were very concerned about his involvement as a spy in World War I, and they ended up having to flee the country, both him with the government and his family separately to ensure that the Germans wouldn't capture them.

An interesting story with respect to that is that he was captured very near the end of the war, of course as a spy, and he was sentenced to death, and he was in his cell, waiting to be executed. His cellmate was there as well, and his cellmate introduced himself as a Mr. (Tonglais ?), and my grandfather said, "Oh, that can't be! I know (Tonglais ?)" In fact, his fiancée, my grandmother, her name was (Tonglais ?) as well, and he couldn't believe that this was the same family. The man even looked like a German, and he was going to kill him the night before he was to be executed (my grandfather). Thinking at least it would be one less German… well, he wasn't a man of violence, which is why he was a spy and he wasn't a soldier out shooting and things like that. So he ended up not killing this individual, and it turned out to be his fiancee's, my grandmother's, cousin.

For his efforts in World War I, he had received many medals, two of which had been British medals – the Medal of the Order of the British Empire (Military Division), and the British War Medal.

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