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.
Symbol of Catalan resistance during WW2, the village of Valmanya on the CD 13 coming from Vinça, was totally destroyed by the Germans in August 1944, not long before the liberation, in reprisal against resistance fighters operating in the area .
Love and War in the Pyrenees by Rosemary Bailey is available in paperback, the cover glowing with the colourful stripes so familiar to lovers of the Catalan fabric of St Laurent de Cerdans.
Two of the most feared French collaboration groups were La Carlingue and La Milice, pro-Nazi French militia set up by the Vichy Government under Petain to fight ‘terrorists’, otherwise known as the Resistance.
One of the most successful escape routes for allied airmen wishing to cross the border into Spain was right here in the P-O, known as the Pat Line, after the man who set it up.
Millas, on the N116 between Perpignan and Ille sur Tet, has a rather lovely church, full of great Baroque art, plenty of shops and cafés – but today we are heading up to the Col de la Bataille, ancient battle ground and poignant memorial to members of the resistance group Henri Barbusse,
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.
This year we take the time once again to thank all those ordinary men and women who went on to do extraordinary things 100 years ago – and then again just 20 years later.
A “Lest we Forget” drive around the Pyrenees Orientales can be the moment to visit or revisit some of the villages and enjoy the autumn colours whilst taking in some of the fascinating War and anti war Memorials.
A silence, our heads are bowed, a prayer from the Mayor. In turn the boys read out the list of the fallen sons of the Great War, perhaps a dozen names from those awful days. This would have been a village of around a hundred people.