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St Peter Port to twin with ‘finest hour’ town

News | Published:

ST PETER PORT is to be twinned with the French town of Masnieres, the scene of Guernsey’s Finest Hour, the heroic actions of the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry in 1917.

The unveiling of the memorial to the men of the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry Commemoration at Masnieres in 2017. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 26095883)

It is one of a series of events at the end of November to commemorate the 102nd anniversary of the action.

From the 2,280 men in the RGLI regiment of the British Army, who fought at the Battle of Cambrai on the Western Front in 1917, there were 327 casualties plus 667 either wounded or missing.

The Royal Guernsey Light Infantry Charitable Trust will commemorate the event, which it said had left a mark on the island forever.

Led by Chris Oliver and Lt-Colonel Colin Vaudin, the charity has continued to receive official backing from both Guernsey and France since its inception in 2016.

At 10am on Saturday 30 November there will be a wreath-laying service at the RGLI memorial in the Sunken Gardens led by the Bailiff, Sir Richard Collas, and representatives from the French state.

Following this a short parade will lead all those participating to the Town Church where an RGLI families service of dedication and commemoration will be held. An updated memorial in the church will be re-dedicated.

In the afternoon, to embrace lasting cultural links, St Peter Port will be twinned with Masnieres.

The French authorities have given permission for this to happen at the former home of Victor Hugo in Hauteville.

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The original twinning document, written in both French and English, together with a cultural overview of the connections between St Peter Port and Masnieres, and the Battle of Les Rue Vertes, will go on display later at the St Peter Port Constable’s Office.

‘Over 100 years ago, back in November 1916, members of the RGLI found themselves involved in the important and devastating Battles of Cambrai and then the Battle of Les Rue Vertes,’ said Lt-Col Vaudin.

‘These were local men who had been conscripted to fight at a stage in the Great War when, by then, people were well aware of the true risks and reality of the war after the tragedies of battles such as the Somme and Ypres.

‘In these big offensives, groups of men from towns and villages across Britain were lost almost instantly and the social effects were enormous.’

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In 2017, the trust placed a Guernsey granite memorial at Les Rues Vertes, the site of horrific Guernsey losses in 1917.

In 2018, it took the initiative to place the only memorial to the RGLI in the Sunken Gardens, a sister to the Masnieres granite stone.

The RGLI returned home from active service in France on 22 May 1919.

. Further details are available at www.lesemrais.com.

Nigel Baudains

By Nigel Baudains
News reporter

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