The poppy is a powerful and iconic symbol of remembrance in England, but did you know that the French have an equivalent, ‘Le Bleuet de France’, their own poignant reminder of the First World War?

The poor were starving to death on the streets of Paris. In the royal palace, the king’s breakfast consisted of 4 chops, a full chicken, six poached eggs and a slice of ham, washed down with a bottle and a half of champagne.

Operation Peg was a military operation involving US special forces (OSS) parachuted in to assist the local Maquis, in August 1944. Its mission  was to harass enemy forces by cutting Route Nationale 117, and destroying communication and supply lines in the Carcassonne Gap. It was led by 1st Lieut Grahl H. Weeks and 1st Lieut Paul Swank.

In late January/early February 1939 nearly half a million Spanish civilians and soldiers fled to France. The word Retirada (Spanish for Retreat) was adopted by historians to signify this exodus, which was the biggest single influx of refugees ever known in France.

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.

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