RAF Sergeant Leslie John Faircloth parachuted to safety when he was shot down on a bombing raid on the Paris/Vaires railway yard on the outskirts of Paris in 1944.
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.
Have you ever wondered what the D in D-Day stands for?
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 former ‘Maison Mazard’ in Le Soler, now destroyed, was a safe house for Dutch refugees, Jews and resistance members fleeing the nazis in the 1930s.
During the Retirada, Spanish Republicans fleeing the Franco regime poured over the border into the P-O. But it wasn’t just people, many important pieces of artwork joined the exodus.
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.
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.
la Jonquera Exile Memorial Museum (MUME), an immaculately kept and poignant reminder of the Retirada, a place for ‘memory, history and critical reflexion’.