La Grande Soire Des Officiers Franais 2Nd July 2014

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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La Grande Soirée des Officiers Français - 2nd July 2014

Date: 14th May 2014

The Embargo is lifted and I can now tell you about this super (I hope) function which will be held in York on Wednesday 2nd July.

Ian Reed,  Director of the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington booked the de Grey rooms last year and has worked very hard to make the evening happen,  but needed the Council to underwrite the evening which they finally have done so now I can talk about it.  French Officers actually frequented and danced at the De Grey rooms during the war so the venue is apposite.

The Rooms only hold a limited number of people - and as the profit will be going to the Marie Curie Foundation - it was thought better to have a Soirée rather than a Ball.  There will be a Champagne Reception, a four course dinner with St. Emillion Wines (kindly donated) and a great French Chanteur - Jean Jacques de Launay (just back from Las Vegas) whom we discovered in Montmartre almost two years ago after the presentation of the BOB Medals to the Mouchotte family held in the British Ambassador's Residence in Paris.

As a Vice President of the Yorkshire Allied Air Forces Museum, I will be hosting the event and though I already have more evening wear than I need - don't have the life style any more, I'm afraid I succumbed to a gorgeous Royal Blue dress I saw in Angels in Canterbury last week.  It was a must and with a red fascinator in my hair and a white bolero jacket I shall really be showing the flag for the French.

Just a little background as to why the French are being so celebrated in York apart from the obvious - the start of the Tour de France.  During WW2, there were over 2,500 French pilots and crew based at Elvington.  They flew bombers and the attrition rate was 1 in 2.  There's a memorial to them close to Elvington as well as another in York Minster just behind the splended Memorial to the RAF.  Also a fighter pilot called Yves Mahé was returning to base when he saw and intercepted a German aircraft and was able to deflect it from dropping bombs on the Rowntrees Chocolate Factory.  At the time no one knew they were manufacturing ammunition and you don't need me to tell you the devastation a bomb there would have caused.  In fact, a plaque to Yves was unveiled in York only last week by the French Ambassador - Bernard Emié.

The poster photo was taken at the first Allied Air Forces Memorial Service I attended in York and I'm being helped out of a vintage Citroen by an Army Officer - Olivier Renard who is the President of Souvenir Française in the UK.   It is an organisation, of which I am a Patron,  rather like the War Graves Commission only very much smaller and looks after the memorials to the French in this country.

La Grande Soirée des Officiers Français - 2nd July 2014

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