LOOKING BACK: Soldier’s wartime stay

Raymond Rabouhans and Pierre Boccador
Raymond Rabouhans and Pierre Boccador

The family of a soldier billeted in Eastbourne during the Second World War hope Looking Back readers may be able to help with their quest for information.

Raymond Rabouhans was a Free French commando during the war.

Raymond and friends at Eastbourne

Raymond and friends at Eastbourne

His unit was part of the No. 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando, which was billeted in Eastbourne for about a year from June 1943.

His son Noel Rabouhans is interested in knowing something of that period in the town and hopes people may still have archives, documents or photographs which might be of interest.

Noel writes, “I have visited the Eastbourne library, and searched the local newspapers, but found only one brief article from June 30 1943. Obviously, at the time, strict censorship was in force, which probably limited what could be published.

“I know where my father was billeted: 2 Milton Crescent, home of Dorothy Austen-Leigh, the great niece of Jane Austen, and where the Free French had their headquarters, which was Roborough School.

“The No 10 commando HQ was in Engedi, in Upper Avenue.

“I would particularly like to find out the billeting addresses of other commandos – perhaps your readers have some accounts of families who housed these men?

“I would much appreciate learning of any information you may have, or to be put in touch with any one of your members who has a particular interest in this period.

“The photo shows my father on the left and the commando Pierre Boccador with whom he was billeted at 2 Milton Crescent.

“I believe the photograph was taken in the garden of 2 Milton Crescent. I don’t know who the ladies are.

“The other photograph is of Raymond and friends at Eastbourne taken in the summer of 1943. It shows three Free French Commandos Andre Denereaz, Rene Taverne and my father together with three ladies and four young children. On the reverse of the photograph is written “sweet memories”.

“The young children could well be still alive today and living in Eastbourne. Can anyone identify themselves, and/or their parents, from the photograph?

“They all appear to be relaxing on the beach - although I imagine the beach would have been off-limits during the war.

“The only other clue that I have is a letter which may be unrelated to the photographs, signed by members of a Gausden family, Florence Gausden, Edmund Gausden, Barbara Gausden, and Eileen Dobson, who lived at Malabar, 21 Mountney Road, Eastbourne.”

No. 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando was by the end of the war the largest commando in the British Army and included volunteers from France, Belgium, Holland, Norway, Denmark, Poland and Yugoslavia.

Anyone with any information can contact Noel at Nrabouhans@aol.com or at 23 Mossy Vale, Maidenhead, SL6 7RX.