AS A tiny community on the global map, Guernsey often punches well above its weight on the international stage. Yet one moment in our history for which no one could deny us our national pride was a battle in 1917 in a corner of Northern France. While the bitter and bloody Great War raged throughout Europe, the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry was playing its part in the conflict and defending the freedom we all enjoy today.
On three long days in November that year on the notorious Western Front, the island’s brave sons held off a determined and sustained German attack, spectacularly and against the odds.
Their key role and outstanding bravery at the Battle of Cambrai, which in total left 327 Guernseymen dead and 667 wounded or missing, is documented in military records and tucked away within the dusty tomes of history books.
Yet nowhere is this local regiment’s remarkable valour distinctly shared through a dedicated memorial to the battalion itself, at home or abroad.
Nowhere is the story of what a new campaign we launch today calls ‘Guernsey’s Finest Hour’, fully acknowledged in a bid to give a generation of local men the recognition they truly deserve.
By joining forces with two local founders of a charitable trust in memory of the RGLI, we hope with your support to help them fund special memorials both here and in France.
For the pair, who have long-hoped to commemorate the regiment’s story and create a legacy so that future generations may know it too, this – the battle’s centenary year – must surely be the time.
Wander into a town anywhere across the UK and Europe and similar memorials devoted specifically to their First World War dead will be found.
If the trust’s £30,000 target can be met then not only will our Town Church host such a tribute, but a piece of Guernsey granite will also mark their ultimate sacrifice in a foreign field on behalf of their homeland hundreds of miles away.
Their motto Diex Aix, ‘With God’s Help’, will have aided them through their longest and darkest days of battle.
We hope the people of Guernsey’s support will now help them too, by ensuring their memory endures into the future and forever.