Capel Le Ferne Memorial And Rene Mouchotte

Jan Leeming

Shoreham 2007

Shoreham Airshow 2007
Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.

 

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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.

CAPEL LE FERNE MEMORIAL - and Rene Mouchotte

Date: 9th March 2011

CAPEL-LE-FERNE

Went to Capel again this weekend. They had a replica of the very first Spitfire made at Castle Bromwich – so this is actually the 75th Anniversary of the Spitfire. There was a group of very pleasant school children who’d been brought down to see the Memorial and also the Spitfire.

We had one of ‘The Few’ with us – Bob Foster and he was introduced to the children. They knew nothing about WW2 and though I certainly don’t believe in glorifying war I am surprised that they were unaware of the momentous event – The Battle of Britain – without which we might all be speaking German!

Another point to the day was to make people aware of the Funding needed to build a ‘Learning Centre’ which will serve as a reminder to future generations of WW2 and the importance of The Battle of Britain and the cost in lives from pilots and aircrew from all over the world.

I am also surprised at how few people have sponsored names on the Foxley Norris Memorial Wall – these men all had families and I can only assume that family members are unaware of this beautiful memorial. So if you have a relation who was either a pilot or Aircrew during the Battle of Britain – officially considered to have lasted from July 10th – October 31st 1940, then the name of your relation will be on the wall and you might like to donate £30 to sponsor the name. You don’t even have to have a relation’s name on the wall – all contributions would be gratefully received. The upkeep of any memorial is costly. You will find a list of the names on several of the Internet sites – just google Foxley-Norris Wall – and they only have to have served during that period.

I began with my sponsorship of a French pilot (because of Huguenot Ancestry) and now find an Atkins (Maiden name) and a Pettet and Pettit (Grandmother’s maiden name) on the wall – so I’ve sponsored them and indeed have now sponsored the 13 Free French who fought for us in the Battle.

So while I’m on the subject. Having worked on and off for over two years to try and get a documentary made  about Rene Mouchotte (who embodied the spirit of an age gone by and sadly, in my opinion, gone forever) and been hopeful when the Proposal went to the History Channel, after waiting 6 months I’ve now heard they’ve passed it along the line to ‘Military’. My concept is a Biography of a man who could have sat out the war in relative comfort but who chose to escape from N. Africa by appropriating a plane and eventually came to the UK and fought in the RAF. He was the first French pilot to command a British Squadron.

So now, I’m not sure where to turn. I’m getting more and more information. Through my website, I’ve recently been contacted by an Englishman whose father was Aircrew during WW2, and though he didn’t actually work with Mouchotte, has innumerable photos of him and his family because he wrote his own work (unpublished) about the Aircrews, the pilots and the war and through this actually met Rene’s Mother and sister. I met Mark Chapman on Monday and we talked for two and a half hours. Mark has given me a great deal of valuable information and shown me a Button-pin which Madame Mouchotte gave to Mark’s father as a thank you for the manuscript he donated to her in which he’s written much about Rene  – apparently he was a very well-loved and respected individual. Have also been contacted by a Frenchman who has sent me copy/photos of Rene (many of which I’d never seen before) from French Aviation Magazines - ICare.

I feel something/somebody is driving me on. Have even thought of taking a loan and funding the documentary myself but this would certainly have no guarantee of a Television slot and though I have no desire to benefit financially from the exercise, there’s little point in making a film the general public won’t be able to see. (I know that my Blog is read by people all over the world (don’t get excited – it’s a few here and a few there but it all adds up) so if anyone from Middelkerke in Belgium would be kind enough to go to the Town Hall and see if the Monument to Rene is still there – I’d be grateful for a photo. (Rene’s body was washed up on the beach at Middelkerke several days after his death and he was interred in a graveyard there. How he came to be re-buried in the Family Tomb in Paris is an interesting story on its own)

I’m going to stay with friends in Paris in May and one of the main reasons for my visit is to go to Rene’s Family tomb.

I’ve gone on long enough but it really is amazing the way little snippets are coming to me from all directions.  I feel a bit like a Rottweiler who won't let go. Every time I despair of everything coming together, I'm given a little more information.

A Bientot - Jan

Mark Chapman has given me permission to show you a photo of the 'pin' so if anyone can identify it, I'd be incredibly grateful.  We've been down the route of several Aero Clubs but they seem to have come into existence after Rene's death.  The letters are ACJM and on the back is written Fraisse Demey Paris 191 R. du Temple.  This is a badge making firm and I think it is still in existence - if only my French were much much better.  I know some French folk tune in to my Blog so any help would be wonderful.

CAPEL LE FERNE MEMORIAL - and Rene Mouchotte

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