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Pearl was born in Welshpool, Montgomeryshire in Wales in April 1893. Her father John had served in the army in Egypt in the 1880s and had moved back to Wales to marry Pearl’s mother Mary Ann Cross in 1886. He rejoined the army in the late 1890s after Pearl’s birth and fought at the Battle of Omdurman in 1898. On leaving the army he moved back to Welshpool in 1901. This was where Pearl grew up alongside her siblings John Seymour (born 1887), Bertram Ernest (1889), Elizabeth Jane (1892), Percy Leonard (1896) Violet Moderina (1900), Harold Frederick (in 1903), and another finally, Roslia, in 1906.
At some point after the birth of Roslia, probably around 1910, John and Mary Ann moved their family to Glenridding where John started working at Greenside as a Lead Ore Roaster. By 1911 the family were living at 5 High Rake, with many of the boys also working at the mine including John Seymour, (as a horse driver below ground), Bertram Earnest (as a miner), and 15 year old Percy himself as a Lead Ore Cleaner.
Pearl is not listed on the 1911 census in Glenridding and we have not been able to track her down elsewhere but by then she would have been 18 and could have been working elsewhere. We do know that in 1916 she married Georges Engels, the Vice-
Pearl and Georges continued to live in England for some years after the war before moving to Brussels. They had three sons, Peter, Maurice and Edward. As for the rest of her tragic story, it is best told in a contemporary letter kindly sent to us by Wendy Blackburn, her niece.
Pearl Engels (nee Jones)
Born December 1893 Welshpool. Llanfyllin, Montgomeryshire.
Died January 1944, Ravensbruck Aged 50
Daughter of John and Mary Ann Jones of Glenridding
Sister of John Seymour, Bertram Ernest, Percy Leonard, Elizabeth Jane, Pearl, Violet Moderina, Harold Frederick and Rosalia.
Wife of Georges Engels
Mother of Maurice, Peter and Edward
It is almost impossible to find any more details on the circumstances around Pearl’s death and her activities during the war. The German invasion of Belgium began on the 10th May 1940 and by the 28th May the Belgian Army surrendered and full occupation began. One site on the web mentions Pearl and her husband as being involved with the resistance in Brussels and states that when they were arrested they gave up the names of others involved in the resistance, including one William Reynolds, who worked as a butler to Madame Pauline Lamboitte in Brussels. William was arrested in January 1942 at the same time as Pearl and Georges and was executed by the Germans in January 1944. At his trial he stated “I regret nothing I did. Long Live England”. It is of course impossible to know the truth of what happened and who are we, with our cosy 21st Century lives, to judge what those involved endured. All I can say is that all of those involved in the resistance work, including Pearl, were unimaginably brave, and the torture and death they suffered was senseless, outrageous and horrific.
For us sadly this is where the story ends as we have no further details on Pearl’s surviving sons, Peter and Edward. If you have any more information please contact us.
“Fate of Welshpool Woman in Germany
AIDED BRITISH SOLDIERS
News has been received in Welshpool that Mrs Georges Engels, a native of Welshpool, and her husband, who before the war resided in Brussels, both died in Germany at the hands of the Nazis. Mrs Engels, is is (sic) stated was condemned to death for helping British soldiers and airmen.
Mrs Engels, formerly Miss Pearl Jones was a daughter of Mr and Mrs John Jones of Welshpool. Her father, who now lives in Cumberland, formerly worked for the Welshpool Gas Company. She married Mr Engels about 30 years aso when he was Vice-
CONDEMNED TO DEATH
News of Mr and Mrs Engels fate was this week received by Mrs Parry in a letter from their eldest son, Peter, joined the British Army as a naturalized citizen after the outbreak of war. He writes, "I regret to impart the news to you that following investigations carried out by myself during the last ten days, I have had to resign myself to accept the unhappy news given by several returned political deportees that my Mother died towards the end of last January from a form or dysentery in an 'Extermination' camp at Ravensbruck, near Frankfort on Oder. Prior to this, in June 1943, my father passed away in a deportee camp at Esterwegen, near Papenburg, also from dysentery. My mother was condemned to death for hiding British soldiers and airmen, and also supplying them with false ration cards and identification documents. She was first arrested in January, 1942, and deported to Germany with my father in August of the same year. I have been in Brussels for the last fortnight for the purpose of finding out what had happened to them, as I have not had any news since 1942. And these are the sad results of my quest.”
In another letter he says his younger brother Edward, aged 17, an architectural student is safe. Another son, Maurice, was killed in a riding accident before the war.
Mrs Parry was on a visit to Mrs Engels at her home, 43 Rue de Lombardie, St Gilles, Brussels, in September 1939 and returned 3 days before the outbreak of war.
Mrs Engels then told her that if war broke out and the Germans over-
Mrs Engels last visited Welshpool in 1940, and before she returned to Belgium prior to the German break through she again told Mrs Parry that she intended to try and outwit the Germans if she could help British soldiers and airmen”
Pearl’s death was also reported in the local newspaper.
William Reynolds, another English citizen involved in the Brussels resistance and who also died at the hands of the Germans