Turning sad history into a positive
ENTHUSIASTS of the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry are an example to us all of how to turn an interest in the island’s military history into ongoing commitment towards making the most of that wartime heroism that links the islands with the battlefields in France.
They seek to build up a solid picture of Guernseymen at war more than 100 years ago, and also look to bring that history to life today with initiatives to cement links with France and the small community of Masnieres, where Bailiwick soldiers successfully defended the British line against German attacks following the Battle of Cambrai, despite ‘horrendous’ losses.
So islanders were at Masnieres yesterday while a commemoration service also took place in St Peter Port.
Beyond what they consider their ‘duty’ to pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice during war, the RGLI enthusiasts have built up educational and cultural links – there is now a two-way exchange of students every summer – and are looking to develop a new project to strengthen this still further, to buy a small derelict cottage near the memorial in Masnieres, refurbish it and turn it into an educational centre.
Organiser Chris Oliver describes it as turning sad events into something positive – ‘moving from the commemorative to the cultural’.
They are an inspiration for keeping history alive and making it relevant.