Madame Tack & Mietje Boeuf
The story of Madame Tack & Mietje Boeuf.
Mother of the Trenches
The 78-year-old Marie-Thérèse Faverger de la Favarge-Tack lived in a house alongside the dyke of the River IJzer in Nieuwkapelle. She was a douairière, a dowager widow of considerable means. She refused to move from this dangerous position and provided Belgian soldiers with cigarettes, fruit and sweets.
The troops called her The Soldiers' Mother, Madame de l’Yser or, most commonly, Mother of the Trenches. On 20 June 1916, she was decorated with the Knight's Cross in the Order of Leopold II. Madame Tack’s house can still be seen at Ijzerdijk 18 in Nieuwkapelle.
The real name of Mietje Deboeuf, or in short Mietje Boeuf, was actually Marie Declerck. At the outbreak of the First World War, she was 64 years old and lived in a small cottage close to the frontline. Belgian troops knew her as La Joconde: Mona Lisa. She treated them to coffee, goat's milk and kind words. King Albert I awarded her the Civilian Cross 1st Class. She died in 1922.