After the armistice, four of the five Australian divisions that had come to fight in Europe were stationed in the Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse region starting in mid-December, prior to commencing their homeward journey at Charleroi’s railway station. In practice, these troops set up their winter quarters throughout the region, and the General Headquarters moved into Count d’Oultremont’s castle at Ham-sur-Heure. A few days later, the Prince of Wales and future King Edward VIII of Great Britain (1894-1972) came to visit and decorated the most deserving of the soldiers. He also lodged in the Ham-sur-Heure castle.
The soldiers were housed by the locals and received warmly everywhere, as a wealth of writings attests. Friendships and sometimes even love relationships developed quickly, and their departure starting in mid-January 1919 triggered great sadness. For example, the Australian soldiers who arrived at Nalinnes Haies on 20 December 1918 were taken in people’s homes, as was the case everywhere in the region. Five of them lodged with Nestor Pourigneaux in Rue des Haies.