Perlecques Blockhaus Ren Mouchottes Last Mission

Jan Leeming

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ÉPERLECQUES BLOCKHAUS - René Mouchotte's last mission

Date: 26th May 2013

Two very good friends of mine in Folkestone are kind enough regularly to invite me on their trips to France. Normally they are only day trips where we do shopping for wine, cheeses and other lovely foodstuffs and then go for a delicious French meal.

This time they were staying with friends near Arras who were kind enough to invite me along as well.

The plan was to visit some of the First World War memorials and I asked if we could also include a visit to the Blockhaus Éperlecques on our way back to Calais. I knew that the raid on 27th August 1943 was the one which claimed René’s life and I’d seen photos of a commemorative plaque on a wall at the site. (René commanded a squadron of fighter planes accompanying the bombers)

I had absolutely no idea what would confront us. Having paid our entrance fee and walked on a forest path with various exhibits, we turned a corner and were stunned by the sheer size of the Blockhaus. It was absolutely gigantic, greyish black, dark and sinister. I thought it looked like something out of a Sci-fi movie where you expect strange creatures to erupt from its crevices. The sheer size and brutality of the Blockhaus takes your breath away. It was here that the Germans intended launching their V2 rockets – they were unmanned.  An earlier version the V1, flew far and fast and when it ran out of fuel simply dropped its  deadly load. The British called them ‘Doodlebugs’ and they really were ‘weapons of mass destruction’ not only for the victims in England but also for the men forced to work on the construction and used as slave labour. Their conditions were appalling.

When I have more time, I will try and write a short story about this ghastly place and will put many photos in the gallery but for the moment, I just want to commit to paper the horror I felt when I viewed this monstrosity for the first time.

Although the weather was foul, the grimness contributed to the overall ‘evil’ emanating from the site.

Part of René’s last Testament was ‘If Fate allows me only a brief fighting career, I shall thank Heaven for having been able to give my life for the Liberation of France.’

The Éperlecques Blockhaus was not destroyed during the raid on 27th August 1943 but it was severely damaged.

As we walked up the forest path and came out into the open, this is the sight which met us and another third of the edifice was below the ground.


  

ÉPERLECQUES BLOCKHAUS - René Mouchotte's last mission

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