Tag Archives: Adolf Hitler

France, Memories of World War – Clairière de l’Armistice at Compiègne

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Close by to where we were staying in Vic-Sur-Aisne was a particular place that I was keen to visit so one morning after breakfast I set off alone towards Compiègne and to the Clairière de l’Armistice, a historic site where the armistice of 1918 brought the First-World-War to an end and where just over twenty years later in 1940 Adolf Hitler dictated the terms of the surrender of France.

The site is deep in the Compiègne Forest about forty miles or so north-east of Paris at a railway junction that was quickly prepared in October/November 1918 to enable the German negotiators to meet with the soon to be victorious allies.

It is not a spectacular site, there is nothing grand about it, it is one of those places that you visit because of what happened there not for what you are going to see; two momentous moments in modern European history.

Armistice 1918 1940

It is a clearing now but in 1918 it was still part of the dense forest.  On the site is a memorial stone on the site of the railway carriage where the armistice was signed, a statue of Marshall Foch who led the Allied negotiations and a reconstructed Alsace-Lorraine Monument, depicting a German Eagle impaled on a French sword.

Alsace-Lorraine in eastern France had been annexed to Germany in 1870 after French defeat in the Franco-Prussian war, an event that France had never accepted, an open wound, hemorrhaging  national pride as it were and 1918 was the date that it returned to France.

“HERE ON THE ELEVENTH OF NOVEMBER 1918 SUCCUMBED THE CRIMINAL PRIDE OF THE GERMAN REICH. VANQUISHED BY THE FREE PEOPLES WHICH IT TRIED TO ENSLAVE.”

IMG_7507

There is also a small museum in a rather squat, ugly concrete building with relics and artifacts from the war and a faithful reconstruction of the railway carriage in which the armistice was signed.  I’ll tell you why it is a reconstruction in just a minute…

The terms of the Armistice represented a total victory for France and the Allies and abject humiliation for Germany.  There was a revolution in Berlin, the Kaiser had recently abdicated and now the country was saddled with crippling war reparations and the ultimate humiliation of occupation.  In France this must have seemed like a good idea at the time but it began a process of resentment that twenty years later would become the Second-World-War.

There is nothing so satisfying as rubbing people’s noses in the dirt but generally this sort of satisfaction is only ever temporary.

Armistice Train 1918and 1940

The Armistice was signed at around seven o’clock on 11th November and came into effect at eleven o’clock – the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

Ceramic Poppies Hull

What I didn’t know is that whilst we use the red poppy as a symbol of remembrance in France they use the blue cornflower in recognition of the traditional colour of the French army uniform.

CPA_Bleuet_de_France_1914-1918

The railway carriage immediately became a symbol of the victory, for a while it became part of the official Presidential Train and was paraded triumphantly around the country and then after a couple of years  it was taken to Paris and exhibited on public display.  Later it was returned to the Forest of Compiègne and the museum site and statues were erected in what was now the clearing or glade.

Fast forward twenty years now and Adolf Hitler is in power in Germany and in 1940 attacks France and the country is defeated and overwhelmed and completely humiliated in a matter of only weeks.  Hitler visited Paris to celebrate his victory and then turned his attention to the terms of the armistice.  This was the moment in history when Germany took its revenge for 1918.

On his way back to Berlin Hitler stopped off at Compiègne, had the railway carriage moved from the museum to the exact spot where the 1918 armistice was signed and there dictated his terms to defeated France.

Gedenkstaette_Compiegne

When he had finished rubbing French noses in the dirt the railway carriage was moved to Berlin as a trophy of war and a symbol of restored national pride and the Armistice site was brutally demolished by German army demolition experts on Hitler’s orders three days later. The Alsace-Lorraine memorial was ceremonially destroyed and all evidence of the site was obliterated, with the notable exception that is of the statue of Marshal Foch – Hitler intentionally ordered it to be left intact, so that it would be left honouring not a victory but only a wasteland and that he could look over it forever and see that everything that he had achieved in 1918 had been reversed.  Germany didn’t just have Alsace-Lorraine it had all of France.

For somewhere so significant in European history it is not a big site, an hour or so is enough to see it all but for me this was not the point.  I have visited several places where previously the monsters of history might have walked and breathed, Stalin in Moscow, The Emperor Caligula in Rome, General Franco in Madrid, Maximilien Robespierre in Paris but I cannot be absolutely positive that I walked in their exact footsteps, at the armistice sight in the Clairière de l’Armistice I can be completely certain that I walked across the same piece of ground as Adolf Hitler and that is a slightly uneasy feeling.

Hitler at Clairière de l'Armistice

Who do you think is the biggest monster in World history…?

Evil People

Adolf Hitler – 60,000,000 WW2 deaths including 6,000,000 Jews in the concentration camps

Joseph Stalin – 60,000,000 citizens of the USSR in a series of political purges – his own bloody people FFS!

Maximilien Robespierre – 17,000 guillotined in just nine months in the Reign of Terror

Emperor Caligula – Mad, Bad and Bloodthirsty, no accurate data available

Pol Pot – 3,000,000 deaths in Cambodian genocide

Margaret Thatcher – 500,000 miners jobs sacrificed on the altar of political dogma

Michael O’Leary – 2,000 flight cancellations 2017 because he is a gobshite twat!

Please feel free to make alternative suggestions…

Back now to Compiègne and to the Clairière de l’Armistice.  In 1945 as the Red Army closed in on Berlin the railway carriage was moved for its own protection to a secret site in a forest in Thuringia where it turns out it wasn’t that safe because at some point it was burnt and destroyed.  There are conflicting accounts about this, some say that German SS officers destroyed it to prevent it falling into enemy hands, some say German POWs set fire to it as an act of revenge and others that US troops unaware of its significance dismantled it and used it for firewood.

That is why there is only a reconstruction at the museum site.

As I drove back to the campsite I reflected on the visit.  I had to smirk when it crossed my mind that in 1914-18 and 1939-45 we fought alongside France against the tyranny of Germany but today these two countries gang up against us because we exercise our democratic right to leave the European Union.

Anyway, back now to holidays and the innocence of childhood…

… My granddaughter, she knows nothing about war, conflict, genocide, politics, unpleasantness, not even a little unkindness…

France 2017 Vic Sur Aisne

France, Soissons and Making Sense of Unfortunate Nicknames

Soissons,_veduta_con_la_Cattedrale

It was too early to book into our holiday accommodation which was only just a few miles away so after a surprisingly good IBIS Hotel breakfast we set out to explore the town of Soissons.

The place was unusually quiet for a Monday morning and many of the shops in the town centre were closed (maybe it was a public holiday or perhaps they just don’t open on a Monday) but we didn’t let that bother us, we hadn’t come for the shops but rather to do some sightseeing.

It is a peaceful town today but it has had rather a turbulent past and on account of its strategic location was once a much more important place than it is today.

I was amused by a passage in a guide book which read – “The election of Pepin the Short took place in Soissons in the 8th century and in 923, following a battle outside the town walls, Charles the Simple gave up his throne in favour of the House of France”

I mention this because if I had been a King at around this time I would have taken great offence to names like these and would have preferred something like Andrew the Brave or Andrew the Wise, something altogether a little more flattering.

This is Pepin the Short…

Pepin The Short

Although in fairness rather like the unfortunate Pepin I wouldn’t have been able to effectively dispute the title Andrew the Short.

A quick look at Royal history reveals that the French had a habit of giving their monarchs uncomplimentary appendages, Louis II was the Stammerer, Louis V was called the Do Nothing, and Louis VI was known as the Fat!

My research throws up what simply has to be my all-time favourite – sometime in the late thirteenth century, Ivailo of Bulgaria was called the Cabbage! Rather like the England Football Manager Graham Taylor (1990-93) who was unflatteringly branded Turnip Taylor after a run of disappointing results and failure to qualify for the Football World Cup Finals.

turnip

I couldn’t help wondering if they were aware of these nicknames or if they were like school teachers who were all given names behind their backs by the students. Come to think about it now however, although we always thought that they were secret I am inclined to believe that each and every one of them knew exactly what we called them.

We used to have a geography teacher called Nogger Hickinbotham, a woodwork teacher called Plod Barker, an art teacher called Tap Underwood and a French teacher called Pluto Thompson but I am afraid that I am completely unable to explain the origin of any of those ridiculous names.

In the first year at Dunsmore School for Boys in Rugby my younger brother Richard helpfully recorded all of these names for posterity in the 1969/70 school Year Book…

Dunsmore School Teacher NicknamesDunsmore Staff 1970

Back now to Soissons.

During the Hundred Years’ War, French forces committed a notorious massacre of English archers stationed at the town’s garrison in which many of the French townsfolk were themselves murdered. The massacre of French citizens by French soldiers shocked Europe and Henry V of England, noting that the town of Soissons was dedicated to the Saints Crispin and Crispinian, claimed to avenge the honour of the Saints when he met the French forces at the Battle of Agincourt on St Crispin’s Day 1415.

The last big upheaval in the town was during the First-World-War (1914-18). In the German Spring offensive of 1918 Soissons fell into enemy hands but after massive bombardment by the French in July the town was recaptured. When I say town what I really mean is what was left of it after repeated attacks the centre including the Cathedral was almost totally destroyed and had to be almost completely rebuilt in the post war years.

soissons 1919

During the battle the Allies suffered 107,000 casualties (95,000 French and 12,000 American), the Germans suffered 168,000 casualties and the French High Command justified the deaths and the destruction on the basis that Soissons was an important strategic town that protected invasion and occupation of Paris. More about this later…

An interesting fact about the Battle of the Soissonnais and of the Ourcq is that during the campaign Adolf Hitler, the future Führer of Nazi Germany was awarded the Iron Cross First Class at Soissons on August 4th 1918.  More about him later…

Anyway we spent an enjoyable morning exploring the streets of Soissons, the Town Hall, the Cathedral (every French Town has a mighty Cathedral) and finally the ruins of the Abbaye de St-Jean-Des-Vignes. The Abbaye is a magnificent place even today but could have been even more magnificent but for the fact that in 1805 the Bishop of Soissons approved its demolition to provide building materials to repair the nearby Cathedral – there was no UNESCO World Heritage Committee to prevent this sort of thing in 1805.

We completed our walk and finished the morning with an ice cream at a pavement bakery and with the clock ticking towards check-in time we left and made our way the La Croix du Vieux Pont Campsite where we still a little bit early so we waited patiently for our lodge to become available and while the children swam in the swimming pool I acquainted myself with the poolside bar facilities.

Does anyone have a favourite memorable nickname?

France Countryside

Warsaw, The Jewish Ghetto and the Warsaw Uprising

Warsaw Shadow

Under the shadow of the Palace of Culture and Science I passed now into what was once the Jewish ghetto area.

There is very little to see there of historical significance, the whole area was completely obliterated and razed to the ground by the Nazis and it is now a thriving modern business area with metal and glass skyscrapers that compete architecturally and wide boulevards carving their way to and from the city centre; very different to the Warsaw suburb that became the ghetto in 1940.

Some friends and family have questioned why I would want to go there at all and my explanation is that I thought that it was important.  This is a place where something dreadful happened, a place that perfectly illustrates man’s inhumanity to man and I felt that I needed to go there, breathe the air and walk on the ground where all of this happened.  It is not a place to go to go and see anything, it is a place to go for a personal almost spiritual experience.

In 2008 I went to Auschwitz concentration camp for much the same reason.

Auschwitz

Not everyone likes these stories so I will keep it short.  In pre war Warsaw one third of the population (350,000) were Jews and Poland was a reasonably religiously tolerant country compared to other European countries at the time.

Within a year of occupation the Jews of Warsaw were forced to relocate into an area west of the Vistula which represented just about 5% of the total area of the city – a third of the population in just 5% of the city.  They were treated appallingly, one hundred thousand died of disease and starvation and finally the survivors were moved out and murdered in the death camps.  By 1945 there were no Jews in Warsaw.  You can easily read about it elsewhere if you want to.

I walked the streets and sought out what small reminders there are – a piece of the ghetto wall, the footbridge of memory, a plaque, a monument, a statue but, as I said, there is very little to see.

I was making my way now to another museum, the museum of the Warsaw Uprising.  It was quite a walk, much further than I was expecting and as I got close I worried that it might be closed on a Sunday.  Luckily it was open for business and even better than that, entrance was free!

Warsaw Statue

This turned out to be a very good museum indeed which deals in general with the war years but specifically with the 1944 Warsaw uprising.  It might be surprising to some people but in 1939 Poland fielded the third biggest Allied Army and despite defeat and occupation they never stopped fighting.  Unfortunately they were ultimately let down by the Allied leaders Roosevelt, Churchill and especially Stalin.  Because they were not recognised as an official allied army this meant that the conventions of war did not apply to captured soldiers and prisoners and many were caught and executed.  Eventually Roosevelt insisted that they be officially recognised in a belated attempt to stop the atrocities.

In 1944 the Free Polish army rose up against the Germans in expectation of support from the advancing Red Army.  The support never came.  The Russians stopped their advance short of the River Vistula and cynically allowed the uprising to be quashed with devastating loss of life when an estimated quarter of a million Polish civilians and soldiers were killed.  When it was all over Hitler carried out his plan to destroy the city.

The Polish army officers that survived and took their units into the countryside to continue fighting were eventually rounded up by the Russians, forced to disarm and sent east to Russian labour camps.  The Russians were not good allies even then it seems.  Warsaw and Poland rid itself of one evil regime of occupation and found itself saddled with another that was just as bad.

What the Germans did was inexcusable, they came as open aggressors, what the Russians did was abominable, they came as fake liberators!

I spent a couple of reflective hours around the museum and believe me it is difficult not to feel guilt and shame in almost equal proportions.

It was getting dark when I left and I thought about getting a taxi back to the hotel but then I came to my senses, I hate wasting money on taxis, so I set out to walk the two or three kilometres back to the Polonia Palace.  It took me about half an hour and when I got back Kim was off to the spa for a massage so I opened a bottle of wine and reflected on my day.

I thought about walking out and booking a table in a restaurant but I had done enough walking already and I was reasonably certain that there would be no problem tonight so as quickly as the thought entered my head I let it go again and decided to take a chance.  Sometimes I just like the whiff of danger and the experience of living life on the edge!

Just as I thought there was no problem tonight, the Valentine’s day frenzy was over and we found an authentic Polish restaurant tucked down a back street and we enjoyed the sort of Polish cuisine that we had hoped for the previous night.  It was so good that without consultation we both knew that we would be returning here again the next night.

Warsaw Uprising 1

Warsaw 1945

Warsaw, The Royal Castle and the Demolition of a City

Warsaw Old Town and Royal castle

The Royal Castle, Warsaw…

Today, the Royal Castle is a proud and magnificent red brick building at the heart of the reconstructed Old Town but as with everything else in Warsaw it had to be rebuilt after the Second-World-War.

At the ticket office the clerk explained that the whole of the castle was not open today but by way of compensation entrance was free.  This seemed like a good deal, no money changed hands and only half a museum for Kim!

Inside the castle we passed through a succession of royal chambers and reconstructed rooms.  The castle was more or less destroyed in September 1939 when the Luftwaffe bombed it and the Wehrmacht artillery finished the job soon after.  Staff at the Palace had very little time to respond to the German invasion but they did manage to save a few valuable pieces and hide them away for the duration of the war.  The Germans turned up quickly of course and the castle was stripped and looted by Hitler’s team of archaeologists and historians, the Ahnenerbe Organisation who dropped by to catalogue and steal the precious exhibits and take them back to Berlin.

On account of this most of the displays are obliged to point out that what we see is a reconstruction or a copy.  Most of what went to Germany was never returned and was either destroyed or is hidden away in private collections still.

What is most noticeable is that in the museum rooms almost all of the pieces on display have an explanatory note that they are the gift of this or that government and country, Russia, Italy, The Vatican, The Netherlands and so on.  It is impossible to view these exhibits and the explanations and not feel sad.

At the end of the tour there was a powerful cinema exhibition which described the history of the Palace.  The early days were straight-forward as it advanced through two hundred years of Polish independent history and then through the partitions and the subjugation and finally towards the destruction of the castle and the entire city of Warsaw.

Adolf Hitler always had a sinister blueprint for Warsaw.  This plan was to destroy it and rebuild it as a German city as part of his policy to provide additional living space for the German people.  In 1939 Warsaw was only a short distance from the German border and German (now Polish) cities like Breslau (Wroclaw), Stettin (Szczecin) and Possen (Poznań).   We know now that he never got to finalise those plans – he never built his new German city but he did manage to destroy Polish Warsaw.

The Nazi demolition of Warsaw…

In 1945 as the German army prepared to retreat ahead of the advancing Soviet Red Army Hitler gave orders that Warsaw should be razed to the ground.  The sad thing for me about that is that not that a deranged madman gave the order but that others actually carried it out.  Surely it must have occurred to someone that what they were doing was wrong, was criminal or was just simply insane?

Obviously not and as the German troops left they destroyed all of the bridges over the River Vistula and completely destroyed 85% of the city.  This was planned systematic destruction.  Special demolition units called Sprengkommando meticulously planned the destruction.  Buildings were numbered according to importance to Warsaw and Polish Culture and one by one they were dynamited and demolished. The higher up the list the more attention to demolition detail.  Buildings without historical or cultural interest were destroyed by Verbrennungskommando whose job it was to go from house to house and simply burn them to the ground.

In October 1944 Heinrich Himmler said – “The city must completely disappear from the surface of the earth. No stone can remain standing. Every building must be razed to its foundation.”

In 1939 Warsaw had a population of 1.3 million, by 1944 this had been reduced to 900,000 but by 1945 less than a thousand people remained living in the ruins of the city.

This year (2015) there has been a lot of bleating from the German city of Dresden about the damage caused by Allied bombing raids in 1945.  Anyone who complains in Dresden should be obliged to go to Warsaw to get a sense of perspective.

It is impossible to visit a place like this and not be moved by the sheer scale of the murders, deportations and destruction.  Information like this weighs heavy.  Why on earth do we such dreadful things to each other?  Personally I am not interested in donkey sanctuaries, save the panda, the league against cruel sports, bull fighting, fox hunting or Blue Cross dog rescue because man’s inhumanity to man eclipses completely anything else that we do that can be described as cruel.  This is what we have to deal with first of all.

Historically the Germans have been good at this sort of thing of course.  In the Dark Ages Saxons used to regularly visit England and burn places down, in 410 Germanic barbarians sacked and looted Rome and more recently in 1870 they besieged and bombarded the city of Paris.  Currently they are trying to destroy the Greek economy.  I like Germany, I like German people, when you visit they are always welcoming and kind but sadly they are serial destroyers!

After this sobering exhibition we left the Royal Palace and disappointed that there was no improvement in the weather we wandered out of the Old Town until we came across a café where we stopped for tea and cake and to plan the rest of the day.

We walked now through a vast open concrete ceremonial square, just a curious empty place in the middle of the city.  This was once called Saxon Square and at one end once there stood a magnificent Palace.  It was destroyed by the Germans in 1945 of course but now there are plans to rebuild it in the original style and turn it into a new National Museum.  The only part to be restored so far however is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier where two army guards stood perfectly still as they took their tedious turn to look over the eternal flame.

The route now took us back in the general direction of the hotel and there were some choices to be made.  My preference was to make for the old Jewish ghetto area and another museum while Kim had a plan to wander back to the hotel through the shopping precincts so we separated at this point and each went our own chosen ways with a plan to meet again in a couple of hours or so.

The Royal Palace in 1945…

Warsaw 1945

Remembering Auschwitz

Auschwitz

“Dawn came on us like a betrayer; it seemed as though the new sun rose as an ally of our enemies to assist in our destruction.”                                                        Primo Levi – “Survival in Auschwitz”

27th January 2015 is the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.  In 2006 I visited Krakow in Poland and went on a bus trip to the notorious Nazi concentration camp.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect and I confess to being a little apprehensive at the beginning of the tour especially when a cold wind seemed to blow across our faces at the very moment we passed through the infamous gates of the camp; or perhaps I just imagined it?  There is a story that no birds fly across the camp but I did see a solitary crow passing by so I presumed that this was indeed just a bit of folklore.  I didn’t see any more however.

Read the full story…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Grand

La Colonne de la Grande Armée

Napoleon Bonaparte and La Colonne de la Grande Armée

“Thou shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.”                                                               Exodus 20:17 – ‘The Old Testament’

It marks the location of the base camp where Napoleon  assembled an army of eighty thousand men all reeking of garlic, impatient and ready to invade England.  It was initially intended to commemorate a successful invasion, but this proved to be rather premature and as he didn’t quite manage that it now commemorates instead the first distribution of the Imperial Légion d’honneur. 

Originally, when it was first completed, the statue had looked out over the Channel towards England, the land Napoleon had confidently expected to conquer but after the Second World War, the French government turned the statue of Napoleon round to face inland, as a mark of respect to the British allies in the war and as a symbolic gesture that never again would France break one of the ten commandments and covet its neighbours property.

La Colonne de la Grande Armée

Read the full story…

Northern France, Napoleon Bonaparte and La Colonne de la Grande Armée

La Colonne de la Grande Armée

“Thou shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.”                                                               Exodus 20:17 – ‘The Old Testament’

La Colonne de la Grande Armée

Today our plan was to visit the coastal town of Wimereux but on the way we passed once more through Boulogne-Sur-Mer and stopped first of all at La Colonne de la Grande Armée which is a monument constructed in the 1840s and is a fifty-three metre-high column topped with a statue of the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. (Nelson’s column, by the way, in Trafalgar Square in London is shorter at forty-six metres high).

It marks the location of the base camp where Napoleon  assembled an army of eighty thousand men all reeking of garlic, impatient and ready to invade England.  It was initially intended to commemorate a successful invasion, but this proved to be rather premature and as he didn’t quite manage that it now commemorates instead the first distribution of the Imperial Légion d’honneur. 

Originally, when it was first completed, the statue had looked out over the Channel towards England, the land Napoleon had confidently expected to conquer but after the Second World War, the French government turned the statue of Napoleon round to face inland, as a mark of respect to the British allies in the war and as a symbolic gesture that never again would France break one of the ten commandments and covet its neighbours property.

This of course was a rather obvious place to plan an invasion of England because the English Channel is only twenty-five miles or so wide so provides the quickest route across. Perhaps that is why they built the channel tunnel here? So it is not surprising that many invasions started here or were intended to start here.

La Colonne de la Grande Armée

Invasions of England…

In the course of his Gallic Wars, Julius Caesar invaded Britain twice, in 55 and 54 BC on both occasions from somewhere near Boulogne and almost a hundred years later the emperor Claudius used this town as his base for the Roman invasion of Britain in AD 43 in search of tin.  William the Conqueror set off from just a few miles south of here in 1066 in search of the English throne and the French invaded twice during the middle ages in search of causing mischief, first in 1215 as part of the Baron’s War against King John and then 1326 by Isabella of France and Roger Mortimer, neither of which enterprise was especially successful.  In 1701 with the the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession  French support for the Jacobites led in 1708 to James Stuart, the Old Pretender, sailing from Dunkirk with six-thousand French troops but this didn’t work out as planned either.

Napoleon’s invasion plans…

Napoleon Bonaparte should have taken note of all these failures but from 1803 to 1805 a new army of two hundred thousand men, known as the Armée des côtes de l’Océan (Army of the Ocean Coasts) or the Armée de l’Angleterre (Army of England), was gathered and trained at camps at Boulogne, Bruges and Monreuil (probably still near the sea at that time).  A large flotilla of invasion barges was built in the Channel ports along the coasts of France and the Netherlands from Etaples to Flushing and gathered together at Boulogne in anticipation of the invasion of the ‘Nation of Shopkeepers’.

Napoleon also seriously considered using a fleet of troop-carrying balloons as part of his proposed invasion force and appointed Marie Madeline Sophie Blanchard as an air service chief, though she advised that the proposed aerial invasion would fail because of the unfavourable winds.

Interestingly these invasion preparations were financed by the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, whereby France ceded her huge North American territories to the United States in return for a payment of sixty million French francs ($11,250,000) and the entire amount was then squandered on the projected invasion. Ironically, the United States had partly funded the purchase by means of a loan from Baring Brothers – an English bank!

When it became obvious to Napoleon that the planned invasion was unlikely to succeed he eventually dismantled his army and sent it east instead to take part in the Austrian, Prussian and eventually the catastrophic Russian campaign of 1812.

Lessons from History…

But people do not learn the lessons of history!  I studied history at University and many people scoffed and said that this was a waste of time but history I find always comes in useful and it is important not to ignore it because if one thing is true then it is that – ‘what goes around, comes around’ and one hundred and fifty years later Adolf Hitler tried it again in operation Sea Lion and again it failed and again he sent his troops off to Russia to a similar spectacular defeat.

And so we move on and after walking through the gardens of the monument so did we, on towards our objective of Wimereux.

La Colonne de la Grande Armée Boulogne France