Recent research revealed that the celebrated British crime writer Agatha Christie met Jacques Joseph Hamoir in her native Torquay in 1915. Like Poirot, the Belgian had fled his homeland in the face of advancing German troops.
The Daily Telegraph's Bruno Waterfield writes that the Belgian standing to attention in his gendarme’s dress uniform, complete with sabre and pistol, certainly looks the part of Hercule Poirot with his very stiff and military moustache - exactly as described by Agatha Christie.
Archivists in the Liège town of Herstal established the man’s identity after Michael Clapp, a researcher, disclosed that his grandmother, Alice Graham Clapp, had helped find accommodation for a gendarme named 'Jacques Hornais' and his son Lucien in Torquay during the Great War.
Isabelle Leponce, a local archivist in Herstal, told the Daily Telegraph: "There is no one of the name Hornais in the archives so I had to play the detective myself. We worked out the street name, rue Large Voie, even though the postcode has long changed. Then we found a Jacques Hamoir and his son Lucien. The ages were right. He must almost certainly be the man in the entry.”
The photograph above was provided by Pierre Baré, a local historian. M Hamoir is pictured above beside David Suchet, the actor who played Poirot in the LWT/ITV television series.