Posts Tagged ‘Second World War’

It’s always more apparent at this time of the year that this was an occupied land. Where we are in France was once under the control of a nazi regime. There was once a garrison of troops based over the Loire in Doué la Fontaine. We hear that a small local chateau was a Gestapo headquarters. Just a short drive away there’s a monument to the head of the French Section of the SOE – Special Operations Executive, Maurice Buckmaster. In Le Mans, a few miles further, you would have found the headquarters of the German Army Group West. There’s many a roadside monument to the fallen of all nationalities. Just up the road in Baugé, there’s a monument to the crew of an RAF Mosquito shot down on the outskirts of the town shortly after D-Day. It’s a simple, but elegant slate monolith inscribed with the names of the two crew members. The area around it is well-tended, there’s always a wreath there or flowers. To the south, and east of us, there’s a little known commune called Maillé. This small commune was attacked barbarically in August 1944 by a detachment of German SS, killing 124 of the 500 villagers in reprisals for a résistance ambush the day before. Many know of the systematic slaughter at Oradour sur Glane, but Maillé is unknown by comparison. Just 124 reasons why we should NEVER forget.

So, while it’s Remembrance Day in the UK today, we shouldn’t forget that on Tuesday the 11th, villages and towns throughout France will be remembering not only their own loss, but also the loss of the hundreds of thousands of allied servicemen and women who paid the ultimate price for the freedom of people like you and I.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae (1872 – 1918)
John McCrea died in a French military hospital in 1918.

They shall grow not old,
As we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them,
Nor the years condemn,
At the going down of the sun
And in the morning
We will remember them.

Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

Until the next time, au revoir.


All content © Le Chant d’Oiseau, 2006-2008

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