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Book: The Obscure Heroes of Liberty.

100 years on, revealing the exploits and names of more than a thousand Belgians of the Prisoner Help Network who hid and sheltered many more thousands of Allied escaped prisoners during World War One.

  • Based on memoirs of escaped New Zealand POW Bert Hansen.

  • Other soldier recollections.  

  • Archival records.

The returns from book sales all go to the charities promoting education and understanding in Belgium/New Zealand relations:

  • The New Zealand Pilgramage Trust, a Belgian Charity; and

  • The Passchendaele Society

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        Most have heard of the French Resistance during World War Two.  Few are aware of the Belgian Resistance movements during the First World War and the enormous role they played in the defeat of the enemy.

        This book tells the story of those underground organisations in Belgium during the Great War and in particular the Prisoner Help Network.  A very large proportion of the network were women.  The author's in-depth research using as a base, the recollections of New Zealand soldier Bert Hansen in particular and others allowed the details to be revealed for the first time.

The other organisations were l’Assistance Discrète (The  Discreet Assistance) and La Dame Blanche (The White Lady) .

Learn who were those brave resistance people, what they did, how they did it and where they lived.  They hid and cared for escaped allied soldiers in the face of a brutal occupation and saw the soldiers across the frontier into Holland to fight again.  

They were the true Obscure Heroes  of Liberty.  After the war, these Belgians were awarded the special 'Allied Subjects Medal' by the British Government

Picture:  New Zealand soldiers arriving in Europe 1915

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Dr. Kenneth Baker, a chemist by training, was born in New Zealand and educated at Ellerslie School, Penrose High School (now One Tree Hill College) and Auckland University where he obtained his M.Sc (Hons) and Ph.D degrees.  After being awarded several Research Fellowships he attended Cambridge University where he was a member of Emmanuel College and carried out post-doctoral research in Chemistry.  He went on to become a Syntex Fellow and a Wellcome Foundation Fellow before taking up a corporate management role.  He then spent many years in senior management roles in the chemical, pharmaceutical and agriculture industries.  He has acted as Chairman of many Business groups, public sector bodies and Government Committees.  One of his side interests has always been family history and the First World War.  His interest was sparked over many years because of living in Belgium, where so many of the New Zealand dead from the war are interred.

Dr. Baker is the author of many publications and given many speeches and presentations on science and research, business management, public policy and New Zealand history.  He spends his time between Belgium, Italy and New Zealand. 

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