Many of us have taken to the hot springs of Dorres without knowing anything of its interesting history during the Second World War. The fashionable contempt in which the French hold the clergy seems to have been completely unjustified in that era…..but judge for yourselves.
The Avions war memorial at Port Vendres quotes the now legendary tribute from Winston Churchill to the heroic pilots and aircrews who, from June to October 1940 fought the Battle of Britain.
Walter Benjamin, (1892 – 1940) German-Jewish literary critic, fierce critic of Nazism and posthumously one of the twentieth century’s greatest philosophers, has a plaque dedicated to him in Banyuls-sur-Mer.
During World War II the majority of RAF Evaders made their escape or passed through France on their way from Germany and Occupied countries, heading for the coasts in an attempt to return to England.
In the living memory of the elderly are brothers and fathers going off to one or other to war, and the stories of those who never returned.
1939 was a difficult year for France. Not only did it experience the indignity of an invasion on its North East border from Hitler’s hordes late in the year, the country suffered a very different incursion in its far South-West in the early months of the year.
The shameful camps, over crowded, in-humane, crammed to overflowing with desperate Republicans escaping Franco’s Spain seem an unlikely place for art to flourish. But artists were there as can be seen in the Museum in La Jonquera. And they did not go un-noticed in Perpignan either.
In every village graveyard wrought iron crosses bearing white enamel hearts record the deaths of generations of villagers.
In 1940, Louis Torcatis joined the French Resistance under the pseudonym Bouloc and became head of the secret army of Languedoc Roussillon.
The Comet line, so named because of the speed needed to whisk stranded airmen down through occupied France to safety, helped hundreds of allied soldiers and airmen to escape from occupied France.