Proposed erection of a Memorial to British soldiers and French civilian executed by the Germans at Guise, 25 February 2023.
In August 1914 the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Munster Fusiliers was cut off at Etreux during the British Army’s retreat from Mons to the Marne. . . About 100 Munsters were killed, and many more were taken prisoner. But not all . . . some escaped and lived rough in the woods and fields around Etreux. Eventually eleven British soldiers (five RMF, five Connaught Rangers and one 15th The King’s Hussars) were taken in by two families in the village of Iron, named [the families] Chalandre and Logez. After five months they were betrayed to the Germans, and executed along with Chalandre in Guise on 25 February 1915. The story has appeared in the RMF Journal over the years.
Hedley Malloch writes (22 May 2023): ‘Since I moved to France in 2000 I have researched the story and my research has brought me into contact with some descendants of the soldiers; and the Mayor of Iron who is the great-grandson of Madame Logez, the woman who sheltered the soldiers. For me it is one of the most moving stories of the First World War, symbolising as it does some of the best qualities of the Old Contemptibles such as endurance and fortitude. It is also a testament to the courage and care of the French civilians who sheltered them at terrible cost to themselves and their families. Yet today there is no memorial to them. The soldiers are buried in Guise Communal Cemetery and their graves are marked by Commonwealth War Graves headstones.
‘Chalandre lies a few yards away in an unmarked and utterly neglected grave. There is nothing at all in the village of Iron to commemorate the unique and momentous events that took place there in 1914-15. I think that this is an injustice to their memory and I am working with the Mayor of Iron to remedy this by erecting a memorial to the twelve men who were executed, in the village of Iron possibly next to the village war memorial.’
‘The reason for my writing to you is to ask if the RMF Association would be prepared to contribute to the cost of the memorial. At the moment I do not know what the cost would be; I am working with the Mayor on possible designs and costs. I do hope that you will be able to help perpetuate the memory of the soldiers of your regiment and of the French men and women who helped them.’
|2009 RMFA-Royal Munster Fusiliers Association.|