Foonotes to Site of wartime diamond factory, Colwyn Bay

FOOTNOTES: Personal recollections

Hans Wins, Gerrit’s son, recalls how his family fled from Belgium in 1940, as the Nazis invaded. Hans, then aged 10, and brother Leo travelled with their parents to Bordeaux, France, to board a ship to Britain. “We had arrived too late to board the ship at the dock, so my father, clutching his ‘goods’, hired a motor launch to chase the ship out of the harbour as it headed for the sea. I have vivid memories of being hauled up a rope ladder aboard the ship. After many adventures, the family settled in North Wales.

Photo of Gerrit Wins“There was, in our case, a Jewish ancestry but there was also the urge to escape the bombing and destruction that war brings. There was an understanding, amongst diamond cutters and dealers, that should war break out, refuge would be sought in South West France – the Bordeaux area – following the First World War pattern that the French and British would halt the German invasion north of Paris. No doubt it was also the knowledge that industrial-quality rough diamonds were vital for the production of armaments and polished diamonds for bartering and collateral purposes, and that the Germans would try to confiscate whatever they could lay their hands on as they did not have access to the African mining countries.”

The “goods” which Gerrit (pictured right) carried on the launch were diamonds, carried in a briefcase. The family settled at 9 Bay View Road, Colwyn Bay, close to the diamond factory owned by Gerrit and his business partner. Hans attended College School and later Colwyn Bay Secondary School, now known as Eiras High School.