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Eastbourne & Willingdon Lib Dems

Mayor and MP commemorate WWII voyage

November 20, 2013 3:17 PM

Stephen Lloyd MP and Mayor Cllr Mike Thompson paid tribute to 5 Frenchmen who escaped from occupied France over 70 years ago to fight the Nazis, at an unveiling of a plaque in Fort Mahon. This matches a similar one unveiled at Beachy Head in 2001.

In 1941, five brave young Frenchmen risked their lives escaping from a village on the coast of France and rowed across the Channel in two small canoes, under darkness, while all the time evading the Axis searchlights which swept the sea. They landed in England at Eastbourne, where they were welcomed with open arms before being helped on their way to join the Free French in our united fight against the Nazis.

A few years ago a delegation from the French village came to Eastbourne to unveil a plaque on Beachy Head which celebrated the youngster's epic voyage. Last Saturday, a reciprocal event was held in Fort Mahon Plage, France, and Stephen Lloyd attended along with Mayor Cllr Mike Thompson to celebrate the brave journey of the 5 young men.

Stephen said: "I was privileged to be invited to this incredibly moving service. The welcome was very touching as it seems almost as if the whole town had turned out to greet us, including relatives of the original five. Our Mayor Cllr Mike Thompson gave a brilliant speech celebrating our coastal towns' joint experiences in defeating fascism. A moving ceremony and I was honoured to attend on Eastbourne's behalf. Five French teenagers, determined to join the fight for freedom - their memory lives on. "