Plaque memorial to famous French five

Beachy Head. A memorial to 5 young men who escaped Nazi occupied France by canoe was unvieled by the mayor of their home town Fort-Mahon-Plage and the mayor of Eastbourne. September 15th 2012 E38008N
Beachy Head. A memorial to 5 young men who escaped Nazi occupied France by canoe was unvieled by the mayor of their home town Fort-Mahon-Plage and the mayor of Eastbourne. September 15th 2012 E38008N

A PLAQUE remembering five French soldiers who crossed the English Channel in canoes to join the British war effort has been unveiled at Beachy Head.

The five young men from the French region of Picardie overcame the odds to traverse the 60-mile stretch of sea on September 16, 1941.

The brave soldiers, named as Reynold Lefebvre, Christian and Guy Richard, and Jean-Paul and Pierre Lavoix, were determined to flee occupied France to fight on with British troops.

Now their heroic efforts have been officially recognised through a special plaque, commissioned by the town of Fort-Mahon Plage, close to where the men set off, and located at Beachy Head.

The Mayors of Eastbourne, Cllr Mike Thompson, and of Fort-Mahon Plage, M Alain Baillet and Mme Yvette Bonnet, joined other dignitaries including Philippe Lavoix, the son of Pierre Lavoix, for the official unveiling.

Two of the five men are still alive. Jean-Paul Lavoix, 88, who lives in Kerlouan (Brittany) broke his leg three months ago and was not able to attend the event while Guy Richard, 87, now lives in the South West of France.

Cllr Thompson said, “What these five young men achieved in the face of such adversity to join our soldiers and continue the fight is incredible.

“On behalf of the town, I am immensely proud to jointly unveil a plaque commemorating their bravery and determination.

“The risks they took to serve their country and ours will never be forgotten and it is a pleasure to welcome our French neighbours to Eastbourne.”

Pictured: A memorial to five young men who escaped Nazi occupied France by canoe was unveiled by the mayor of their home town Fort-Mahon-Plage and the Mayor of Eastbourne.

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