Tribute paid in London to the Free French Forces
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London, 18 June 2012
On Monday, 18 June, the French Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Bernard Emié, paid tribute to the Free French Forces, led by General Charles de Gaulle, who resisted Nazism and fascism during the Second World War.
In a speech at the Lycée français in London, he recalled de Gaulle’s historic Appeal of 18 June 1940, broadcast from the British capital, in which he rallied the French people in support of the Resistance.
M. Emié also unveiled a glass display case dedicated to the Free French Forces’ heroism in defending the fortress of Bir Hakeim in Libya from advancing German and Italian forces.
“In celebrating today General de Gaulle’s Appeal, the struggle of the Free French and the Battle of Bir Hakeim, we are carrying out an act of remembrance,” he said. “Memory must be passed on to our young people, and it’s the duty of our schools to reawaken, illuminate and bring alive our history.”
At Carlton Gardens, M. Emié awarded decorations to six French armed forces and civilian personnel “of very great merit, whose skill and sense of duty are an example to all their brothers in arms”.
London, 18 June 2012
To mark our commemoration this morning, Mme Yamina Benguigui, Minister Delegate for French Nationals Abroad and Francophony, attached to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, has asked me to read this message, on her behalf, to London’s French community, and especially to you, chers pupils of the Lycée Charles de Gaulle.
“Dear compatriots in London,
“Today you are celebrating the memory of a man who gave the French people courage, at the darkest hour, to continue the struggle against totalitarian barbarism, to rise up against an appalling plan to dominate our continent.
“Charles de Gaulle and the first of his fellow men, the first Free French Forces, restored to us our honour and freedom.
“French people today, abroad and in metropolitan France, have inherited this freedom.
“In London, the capital of free Europe during the Second World War, more than anywhere else you are conscious of being the guardians of this part of our shared history.
“This morning I was at Mont Valérien, an important place of national remembrance, with the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Minister Delegate for Veterans to take part in the national ceremony marking the historic Appeal of 18 June 1940.
“I salute and congratulate you on paying homage today and passing on this living memory of the Free French Forces to our young generations of French people abroad”./.