Souvenir Franais St Georges Centre Gillingham

Jan Leeming

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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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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 - St. George's Centre, Gillingham

Date: 17th November 2012

Another memorial service but this time to those Frenchmen who were imprisoned here during the Napoleonic Wars and died far from home and without the succour of their loved ones.

St. George's Centre is a decommissioned Church which stands within what would have been the Dockyard and Naval Area.  That it wasn't demolished was entirely due to the efforts of some local people and it is well worth a visit.

It was a small group who gathered to pay tribute to the suffering and valour of those long dead but we were graced with the presence of the Mayor of Medway in all his finery and accompanied by his Mace bearer.  There was a short address by a man in holy orders (don't know if he was Protestant or Catholic but he sounded American).  He gave a very short but very poignant address - the point being that whoever are our enemies in a war they are still people doing their duty for their country and their valour should be recognised. (When René's Mouchotte's body was washed up onto the beach at Westend in Belgium in1943, the Germans gave him a burial with full military honours)

We made our way to the area behind the Church where they have brought the Memorial which originally stood  on St. Mary's Island - again another story to look up on the Internet.

The inscription on the Memorial reads:

'Here are gathered together the remains of many brave soldiers who, having once been foes, afterwards the captives of England, now find rest in her soil.   Remembering no more the animosities of war, of the sorrows of imprisonment.

They were deprived of the consolation of closing their eyes amongst the countrymen they loved but have laid in an honourable grave by a nation which knows how to respect valour and sympathise with misfortune'

Says it all doesn't it?

A photo of Olivier Renard and the Mayor of Medway, Vaughan Hewett.

SOUVENIR FRANÇAIS - St. George's Centre, Gillingham

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