HISTORICAL ARCHIVING  
FIELD DETECTING  
PROJECT : Refuge of Kapellen, “Vrijbos”
In 1983, after a liftetime friendship, Frans Denruyter presented to Calixte Vandevelde to attempt a new procedure of recognition, initiated by the association of the Independance Front ( Onafhankelijkheidsfront ) of Tienen (B). They both were member of the resistance National Royal Movement ( NKB ) and signed in together on the morning of April 2, 1941 in Boutersem. Calixte , a local of Hoeleden at that time, never claimed his recognition as a resistant member after 1946, he wanted to forget the war and it’s attrocities. But Frans insisted to give it a try, so five testimonies from other wartime NKB members were taken. These testimonies were proof of the actions that Calixte was part of and his membership to the NKB. Included the testimony of Frans himself, confirming he and his friend Calixte joining the movement on April 2, 1944 From the application and testimonies, copies were made before sending them to Brussels, at the end of June 1983. After the death of Calixte in 2016, the papers became part of the HBFV archives. But the interesting part was a pencil drawing at the back of one of the copies, made in the same era, presumably by Frans Denruyter on the back of the paper or by Calixte himself. Calixte mentioned his actions during the war : transport of weapons from Kortenaken and Geetbets to Meensel and the destruction of rapeseed. The nightly trips on foot from Glabbeek to Kapellen, delivering them at a “repaire “ point near a forest next to the rails of the tramway that he and Frans were walking on. Somethimes a pickup was done at a second place, close to a small chapel. The handdrawn map shows the conditions well.
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1. Origin of the project
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2. Finding the camp and caches
The pencil drawing of Mr. Denruyter or Mr. Vandevelde ( we presume Mr. Vandevelde according to the handwriting ) was a quick scetch of the situation, he remembered of the repaires he knew and the location of the temporary campsite. The indicated forest , part of the “ Vrijbos”, still exists in 85% of it’s wartime dimensions. The two “repaires” of the NKB he knew next to the rails of the tramway  ( small caches to deliver or pickup ) became impossible to detect, due to the structural changes during the years. The tramway network became obsolete in the early 1960’s and the tracks were removed. Following the same path, the old bed was transformed into a wider  unpaved road between the center of Kapellen and the center of Meensel. The first cache next to the former tracks was dug out, covered by crushed concrete to widen road surface and high dikes on both sides. The place however still offers good testimony why the cache was there : you could easily jump on or off the tram and hide immediatly and the distance to the indicated forest is minor. A scan of the second cache perimeter at the small chapel also left us with no result... hope to find relics or physical evidence wasn’t high at that moment. The actual forest is devided in to main sectors, owned by two different owners. After the official applications and approvals for a archeological research, in collaboration with the village of Glabbeek - a five day detection program covered the terrain starting June 19, 2018. The western sector was littered heavy by illegal dumping and was a hard bargain without results. Part of it was also cleared in the 1970’s and a young forest covered the terrain.  
Saturday June 23, 2018. The northern sector holds a slope with a lower natural platform, now used to evacuate water from the fruit plantations surrounding the forest in case of flooding. A section with no pollution, consisting of a 25cm thick humus layer on top of the typical loamy soil of the region. Due to the “natural cover “ of the slopes, we deceided to focus on the perimeter. It also made sense with the indication “ camp” on the croquis, being in the center part of the forest.
Recovery of the artefacts
The first piece that got detected on the slope facing the northern side, was a cover of a carbure light. Multiple parts of the light appeared. A good indicator in the clean underground, that we were on the spot Carbure lights were used oftenly in forest hideouts as nighttime illumination, with a solid performance without the need of power or batteries.
The unearthing of an enamel plate, convinced us we were on the campsite. The enamel plates were in use during that period, and much lighter and cheaper then it’s ceramic counterpart. The use of the metal plates was also found in the maquis of Baclain.
Discovery of a cache with German ammunition The main testimony of the caches for the resistance ! 45 meters NW from the place we indicated as the campsite, a cache was found, not indicated on the croquis. We presume that the drawer of the croquis wasn’t aware of it’s existance or simply forgot about it’s existance, 40 years later. Since Mr. Denruyter and Mr. Vandevelde were responsable for the transports related to the tramway, it’s possible they simply didn’t know about the caches on the northern side of the forest. The caches or “repaires” were made, to make as less  as possible contact with orther members of the network, for their own protection. Under a bucket : a total of 40 Mauser cartridges (with clips) and a 16 gauge shotgun shell with lead pellets.
3. Historical analysis of the Refuge of Kapellen
At the end of May 1943, the refuge between Kapellen and Meensel was founded. Primary goal was the create a refuge camp in very short notice, for the Russian refugees that escaped the forced labour for the Germans, in this case they escaped from the mines of Zwartberg (B). Most of them came from Geetbets, but due to the intensified searches by the Gestapo, they moved to the forest of Heibos, on the border of the two small villages Hoeleden and Ransberg. This move was conducted by two commanders of the resistance NKB section of Geetbets, Mr. Collin and Mr. Vanschoubroeck, who were trying to organise the initensified flood of refugees, expanding to the region of Leuven. On top of that, Roger Bellen was arrested on May 2th, 1943 an tortured - the several refuges were compomised so they had to move fast. The refuge of Kapellen was a response to that request, under the command of Victor Mertens , NKB of Glabbeek. The uge woodland “Vrijbos “ between Kapellen and Meensel, had several sections owned by Victor and he offered it as a solution. Jules Cauwberghs, an employee of Victor, got this orders and passed them to Frans Denruyter and Oscar Beddegenoots, to make the arrangements. Several Russian refugees sheltered in the woods of the small refuge for quiet a period, in harsh conditions. They got help and nutrition from several families in Meensel ( Herman and Christine Pypen of the Creftelbosstraat ). Known to do so, are Frans and Emma Bruyninckx, who already helped several downed airmen. Emma provided and repaired descent clothing for these men. The Wauters family from Kapellen supplied food from their farm at regular bases. Support was gadered and collected at the cafe of Oscar Beddegenoots, next to the tramwaystation in the center of Meensel. From there, it was transported to the refuge during the night. Louis Van Hoof organised the “repaires”, small caches that were used to transfer weapons, ammunition and illegal press. They were on the edges of the woods and two next to the tramway railsystem. From May 1944, the situation became more intense. Young men from the region, refusing to go into the forced labour in Germany, couldn’t stay at the farms where they were hiding any more. Search parties, directed by the collaborating commissionar Emiel Van Coppenolle, was the origin of this, so the small refuge got occupied during the night to it’s maximum. Van Copenolle organised these searches from his temporary commandstation in Tienen. In our opinion, the razzia’s of August 1944 were the end of the existance of the refuge. Oscar Beddegenoots was executed and several others disappeared in the concentrationcamp of Neuengamme. SS commander Robert Verbelen was well aware of the weapons and ammunitions that were hided by the resistance, lot’s of it was gathered op August 11, 1944 - during the second razzia in Meensel and Kiezegem. But he wasn’t aware of the caches in the refuge, who were known by few resistance members. Frans Denruyter and Calixte Vandevelde knew a part of it, because they did the transfers between Glabbeek and two of the caches during nighttime. The small croquis on the back of the testimony gave it away, drawn in 1983 - analysed in 2018. 
Two of the Russian refugees, with their new clothes. Picture is taken behind the villa of Victor Mertens, may 1943. An interpreter Mr. Ivanoff was often called to make vital communications with these refugees, the language barrier was an issue at some points.
Emma Bruyninckx ‘ Bruynke ‘, 42 years old in this picture during the war. Her persistance was remarkable. She repaired costums that were gathered by the resistance, to fit the men. She was the driving force behind Sevice Evasion Verbiest from Diest.
The NKB “Hageland” during the liberation period. During the war, they had many losses, up to 65 % of their members...
Frans Denruyter was arrested twice. The second time in 1943 he ended up in “ Nacht und Nebel “, from Breendonk to forced labour at the Atlantic Wall in the northern part of France for 143 days...