A year ago today I was fortunate to be in France with Ted Owens, a veteran of 41 Commando who landed on Sword Beach on D-Day.
Ted, aged 88 and from Pembroke Dock, Wales, returned to the spot at which he had been wounded during the landings.
Ted was badly injured on the beach within a few minutes of the landing and was sent back home. He returned to his unit in August and later fought in Belgium and the Netherlands.
On June 6, we headed to Bayeux War Cemetery. Ted was keen to find the grave of a fallen comrade from 41 Commando.
He found the grave of Marine Ernest Spence, from Royton, Lancashire, and laid a small wooden cross.
Ted’s trip was filmed for a television programme called ‘Welsh Heroes of World War 2: D-Day Commando’, which is available to watch online here.
November 11 1943 is, I understand, a well-remembered day for historians of the Resistance in Nazi-Occupied France.
It was on that day that the Maquis paraded through the town of Oyonnax in what Matthew Cobb in his excellent book The Resistance describes as a “stunt”.
The event was designed as a show of strength, a morale boost for the local population. The town was chosen because there was no German garrison nearby.
More than 200 Maquisards took part. They marched, sang the Marseillaise and then disappeared back into the mountains.
Sometime ago I came into possession of this small medallion. It features the date ‘XI Novembre, 1943’.
One side is the Cross of Lorraine smashing a Swastika.
On the other side is an Astrix-like warrior.
I would love to know the story behind it. I assume it relates to Oyonnax, but does it?
When was it created? How many issued?
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