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Remembering the resistance

French visitors involved in organising events that commemorate the bravery of resistance fighters and the men of the RAF who supported them were given a warm welcome to the Memorial.

Trustee Andy Simpson showed the four distinguished French visitors around the site on a fact-finding mission linked with the possibility of returning next year with a larger group.

The visitors are behind commemorations that honour the activities of resistance fighters in South East France in World War 2, together with the fate of RAF crews lost in Special Operations Executive (SOE) missions to deliver cargoes to the French freedom fighters.

Andy Simpson explained the origins of the Memorial, the significance of some of the elements that surround the National Memorial to the Few and how the Memorial is used to inform visitors about the Battle of Britain. Overcast weather meant the visitors were unable to look back across the Channel and see their home country.

The visitors were Lt Col. (ret'd) Bernard Hermellin, President of the Society of Members of the Legion of Honour, Romans/Vercors branch, Mme Marie-Claire Francois, National President of the 11th Regt. Cuirassiers Association, Mr Bernard Kolb, secretary of the association, and Evelyn Le Chene, widow of SOE British agent Pierre Le Chêne MBE.

Pierre was also known as 'Grégoire' MID (mentioned in dispatches), Officer of the Légion of Honour, Croix de Gurerre palme. A radio operator for the 'Spruce' network in Lyon, he was parachuted into France during the night of May 2/3 1942 from an adapted Whitley aircraft.

The visitors told Andy they felt the Memorial was “a wonderful place which tells its own story vividly as the airman sits in the middle of the atmospheric and emotional amphitheatre”.

Photo shows (L to R): M. Bernard Kolb, Lt Col (rtd) Bernard Hermellin, Mme Evelyn Le Cheyne and Mme Marie-Claire Francois.

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