Ren Mouchotte Interview With His Sister

Jan Leeming

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RENÉ MOUCHOTTE - Interview with his sister

Date: 6th December 2011

RENÉ MOUCHOTTE – Interview with his sister

I’d hired a cameraman to accompany me to Paris to film the interview with René’s sister. She celebrated her 101st Birthday on the Sunday and I was to meet her on the Monday. I’d worked long and hard on my questions bearing in mind her age and the desire not to tire her and make the experience as pleasant as possible.

We got the very early Eurostar from Ashford International and a quarter hour into the journey we came to a halt – trouble in the tunnel – so not the most auspicious start.  However, we were only held up for 40 minutes and as Owen was to meet us at the Gare du Nord, at least we didn’t have to worry about queuing for a taxi. Owen had very kindly translated my questions into French as the sister speaks no English. I understand a great deal more French than I can speak and am told I have a good accent (Madame’s son in law is English and he was there to help if help were needed)

I took over a lovely Orchid as a Birthday present and when she thanked me, not only for the orchid, but also for doing so much research towards a documentary about her brother, we both ended up in tears of emotion.

We left her to have her lunch and to rest and repaired to a lovely French Restaurant with her daughter and son in law.

The Interview went very well indeed. Madame speaks very clear Parisienne French and I understood about 90% of what she said. Obviously I was restricted compared with my usual interviewing technique but I framed the questions in such a way as to be able to cut myself out of the interview and basically just have her reminiscing about her brother, his humour, his kindness etc., and the sad way they learned of his death.

I also undertook an interview with Madame’s son in law who is very interesting in his own right and was fascinating with his stories of the war. 

My cameraman had to catch the train back to the UK but I opted to stay on for a couple of days with Owen and Mireille and I’m so glad I did because something else occurred which was a coincidence and an honour - my invitation to attend the Funeral with full Military Honours of Henry Lafont - the last of the thirteen Free French Fighter Pilots who have their names engraved on the Memorial Wall at the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne.

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