Generations after a whole village of Dutch women and children were saved from near starvation, their community is launching an appeal to find the Stroud women who raised a small fortune to help them.
The town of Putten incurred the wrath of the Nazis in 1944 after Dutch Resistance fighters attacked a car containing German soldiers just outside the town.
In retaliation, the Germans swooped, burned down part of the village, and took 600 men from the village to concentration camps.
Stroud women were inspired to help after hearing in the British media about the ‘village of widows and orphans’ who were struggling to survive a harsh winter with little food or warmth.
The Gloucestershire women raised £500 – the equivalent of £100,000 today – to help. It was a huge sum of money considering the average annual wage was then about £250.
The villagers were so grateful that when Putten was rebuilt they used the remainder of the money to build a community hall, named after Stroud.
Now Stroud Town Council is on a quest to find the women involved, or anyone who knows about the collection.
Town Mayor Kevin Cranston said: “The people of Putten are interested to her about anything that we know about the story. We’re appealing for anyone whose granny, great aunt, or a family friend, or WI group might have been involved in fundraising or who remembers the collections to tell us anything they know about it.
“As far as we can make out from the people of Putten, three women’s groups were involved. Stroudies are kind-hearted souls who did the right thing without seeking praise, but we’d like to know more about who they were.”
Councillor Cranston was a guest of honour in Putten earlier this year when the refurbished Stroud Community Centre was re-opened.
“When they talk about going out to the theatre the residents of Putten talk about ‘going to Stroud’,” he said.
“That is because its community centre is named Stroud, in honour of the people in Gloucestershire who came to Putten’s aid over 70 years ago.”
Anyone who remembers the collection for Putten’s widows and orphans is asked to contact Stroud Town Council at [email protected].