Battle Of Britain Memorial French Students Visit

Jan Leeming

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BATTLE OF BRITAIN MEMORIAL - French Students' visit

Date: 31st May 2012


I live quite close to the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne.

On Wednesday I was asked if I could go up to the Memorial on Thursday to help out with a very large party of French students. I agreed on condition that I was allocated the best English speaking French teacher.

I hadn’t time to put anything together so had to sub my knowledge, of the BOB and the Memorial, as I went along also taking into account the interest or otherwise of the Students.

Two coach loads arrived and we split them into two groups – boys and girls. I felt the chaps would be more interested in hearing about the replica Spitfire and Hurricane about which I know very little whereas I could speak relatively well about the Memorial in general and the Wall in particular. Paul Otterson, a pilot who is helping to restore the planes and is a fluent French speaker took the boys to the planes.

After the girls had looked at the Memorial and the Wall and searched for the names of the 13 Free French pilots, I took them into the little coffee shop and very briefly told them the story of René Mouchotte, showed them the original book of Mes Carnets published in 1949 and my search for his sister whom I found in Paris last year and had the privilege of meeting and interviewing.

We swapped groups and much to my astonishment, the boys were even more interested than the girls. I suppose they are more into Flight and would have been more aware of René and Henry Lafont who died in Paris last year.

(Ian Reed, Director of the Yorkshire Air Museum, was able to obtain the forms and rectify the omission of the Battle of Britain Medals for both René and Lafont. Because of her age and fragility, Ian and I went to Paris a couple of weeks ago to give the medals to the family. However we are still hoping for an official handover ceremony in Paris – both the Chiefs of the French and British Air Staff have agreed in principal to attend.)

Was so busy, I’d no time to take photos but asked one of the teachers to take a photo of the group in front of the Replica Spitfire. When I receive the name of the School/Academy, I’ll publish it.

BATTLE OF BRITAIN MEMORIAL - French Students' visit

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