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Normandy and Britanny 2016

BriefingPosted by Anthony Knight Mon, June 20, 2016 14:03:56
The Memorial weekend, 11/12 June, was a great success. Peter Roper and his family from Canada had rented a chateau at Fontenay-sur-Mer and very generously invited us to a garden party on the Saturday. There we met the group of 6 officers from RAF Coningsby and enjoyed the chateau gardens, complete with millpond and loudly-croaking frogs. A fine lunch was then served in the chateau where we were entertained by Peter's son-in-law, an amateur drummer, and James Gibb, brother of our Treasurer Amy, who was our trumpeter.
In the evening we gathered again, for yet another meal, at a restaurant in the centre of Caen. Access was made very difficult because many roads had been closed for a charitywalk/run. The sat-nav in the car worked overtime to get us to the restaurant.

The Rev Bill Johnston was our chaplain this year. Bill is a friend of George Wood and had been in Britanny with us last year when George received his Legion d'Honneur medal. On the Sunday morning we gathered at Noyers Bocage church, finding our way round the improvements being made to the square in front of the church. James (trumpet) and Mary (organ) played before the service and Bill assisted the local priest and preached a sermon which was then repeated in French by the priest.

After the service, led by the standard-bearers of the "anciennes combattants" we went to the Typhoon Memorial where we remembered not only those who had died in the Battle of Normandy but also those veterans who had passed away since we last met.

Later that afternoon, Mary and I set off for Roscoff in Britanny. We had so liked the area when we visited last year for George Wood's investiture that we decided to return for a short holiday. Our plan was to visit the Maritime Museum in Carantec to see George's medal. It was closed and not due to open until the Summer, a week later. Arrangements were then made at the Town Hall to get access to the museum during the afternoon. We then went for a walk on the beach. To our amazement we met Pascal Messager, a director of the museum and George's friend. Arrangements were soon made for a visit to the museum, where we saw the medal on display with other memorabilia and we learned more about the wonderful story of the "RĂ©seau Sibiril", the resistance network that had cared for George and had built the boat in which he eventually escaped back to England, the last of 16 such boats that had successfully carried 152 people to safety across the Channel!