Souvenir Franais Marchal Foch London Brookwood Cemetery

Jan Leeming

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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.

SOUVENIR FRANÇAIS - Maréchal Foch, London - Brookwood Cemetery

Date: 12th November 2012

SOUVENIR FRANÇAIS

All manner of interesting pursuits have come my way through my research with regard to my documentary on René Mouchotte. I’m a Vice President of the Yorkshire Air Museum (Allied Air Forces) and more recently a Patron of Souvenir Français. The latter is an organisation, much smaller than but similar to our War Graves Commission. We have many Frenchmen (not being sexist but they are predominantly men) buried on English Soil.

Usually Souvenir Français holds its Remembrance Service (small by comparison) on the same Sunday as the British. However, the French Ambassador had to be in Paris on Sunday so the French Remembrance Service was held on Monday 12th November in front of the Memorial to Maréchal Foch near Victoria Station. (At the funeral of Henry Lafont in December 2011 I met a grandson of Maréchal Foch)  Despite the buses and the London noise, it was a moving ceremony especially as a tiny choir of children who must have been frozen in their skirts/shorts and blouses waited patiently through the speeches to lead us in the singing of the Marseillaise.

I was very surprised and honoured to be asked to accompany the President of the British Branch of Souvenir Français as he laid his wreath at the base of the Monumuent.

We then boarded a coach down to Brookwood military cemetery not far from Guildford. Obviously it is not as large as Tyne Cot in Belgium. (Look up Tyne Cot on the Internet – there you will find out where it got its name and other relevant and interesting details) However, there are different sections dedicated to the last resting place of various nationalities. The French section is dominated by a fine sculpture of a woman and also the Croix de Lorraine. I cannot find any information about the sculpture so if anyone has any it would be gratefully received.

After the ceremony – where again I had the honour of laying a wreath with Olivier Renard the President of Souvenir Français in the UK, we had afternoon tea in the Artists’ Rifles Clubhouse at Bisley. Now there’s a story and again I refer you to the Internet – there were members who were part of the Pre-Raphaelite Group of Painters - have a look for yourself.

And then we came back to London where I went to the opening night of my friend Andrew Hewkin’s Art Exhibiton – what a wonderful end to a very moving day.

Sorry there aren’t any photographs. I only had my mobile phone with me and, not being technical, on transferring them to my computer and stupidly deleting them on my phone (because I don’t like having to delete them one by one) I lost the lot and am now waiting for some to be sent to me.
 

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