The members of FIBA were well represented at the annual remembrance ceremony held at St Germain au Mont d’Or. This year the event took place on Saturday 17th November.
In 1917, the commanders of the British Armed Forces decided that servicemen travelling from the east should no longer risk the voyage by boat through the strait of Gibraltar as it was too dangerous and a new system was put in place, whereby the Armed Forces were taken to a port in Italy, so that they could make their way to northern France by train. This was a very arduous journey through Italy and France and rest camps were established in order to break up the journey. Rest camp number two was based just to the north of Lyon, at Saint Germain au Mont d’Or. Unfortunately, some of the travelling soldiers were unable to continue their journey and a hospital was set up for them. Those who died are now buried at the British and Commonwealth cemetery created by the village alongside their existing cemetery. The cemetery also contains the graves of those Royal Air Force servicemen who perished in the region during the second world war.
The camp near Lyon was open between 1917 and 1919. Whilst this year marks the centenary of the end of the First World War, next year will mark the centenary of the closing of the camp.
The mayor of St Germain au Mont d’Or and the municipal authorities are extremely diligent in the remembrance of the events 100 years ago, alongside many groups representing those who served, including the Royal British Legion and the Royal Air Force Association. Garth Drury served at the ceremony as the standard bearer for the RBL. In addition to many French “ancien combattants” groups, the Association France – Grande Bretagne was also represented (by Margaret Marret). Wreaths were laid by these organisations and Philip Last laid the wreath on behalf of FIBA. Each wreath was laid by a representative of the organisation with a young person from the village. The speeches made by the member of Parliament for the Rhône and the Mayor of Saint Germain au Mont d’Or can be read here (link)**. These short and poignant addresses give further details of the history and reflect on the importance of friendship and co-operation between nations and how crucial it is that everything possible is done to cherish unity and peace in Europe.