We’ve had brief mention of Charles Devignez (sometimes d’Evegnee), one of three Aaronic Priesthood holders who kept the Saints in Liège, Belgium, together during World War I. Charles Devignez welcomed the missionaries back to Europe and served as a leader of the Church in Belgium until his death in 1931.
Charles Devignez’s oldest son was Paul Joseph Devignez. Born in 1910, his earliest memories must have been of those dark days during the war. Like his father, he became a leader in the Belgian Church; his English skills were an asset in communicating with the missionaries and American Church leaders. Also like his father, Paul had his own adult experiences of war.
Writing to the absent European Mission President Thomas E. McKay late in 1945, he reported:
Up to the present, I have dedicated two military graves of American Saints in Belgium (Military Cemetery of Henri Chapelle): Brother Norman A. Funk [1920-1945] of Benson [Utah] Stake (I sent a picture to the family for I had the privilege to be acquainted with Rex Funk [1918-2005], his brother, who was a missionary in the Belgian District) and Brother Don L. Shumway [1920-1944] of [Mesa,] Arizona. I am unable to trace the city where he was living in Arizona, but I hope you may find a way to locate the family.
I know there are several Mormon boys resting in Henri Chapelle and I am pleased to say that all Belgian Saints will honor our brothers’ graves. Relatives may ask for any service in that way.
The country over there is pretty, and, as far as you can see, valleys and hills are covered with orchards. At some distance, the top of the highest hill seems snow crowned; unfortunately it is not snow, but a little more than 18,000 white crosses flowering a huge field where are resting so many American soldiers who fought to death so that we may live in liberty.
In November last, our young folks of the M.I.A. took flowers to our American brothers in Henri Chapelle and in St. Neuville.
With pleasure at your service, I beg to remain, dear president, with my sincere wishes, respectfully your brother,
Paul J. Devignez,
10 Medes Semailles,
Paul J. Devignez emigrated to the United States within a few years of the end of World War II, going to the Salt Lake Temple in 1949. He died in Florida in 1993.
The picture is of Henri Chapelle cemetery, sent with the 1945 letter to President McKay.