In the summer of 1944 after the D-Day landings in Normandy (Operation Overlord) on 6 June, but before the Allied invasion of southern France on 15 August, the task of disrupting the German forces in Central France was given to the various Resistance groups with SOE and SAS support. Allied forces had been able to make a number of arms drops in the area, but the Germans were jittery and on the verge of pulling out. Heavy fighting ensued, usually hand to hand, field by field. The Resistance used the many forests in the Touraine as places to hide and the spot known as Péchoire in the Foret de Preuilly is a typical example.
The retired para in charge is centre foreground
with his back to the camera.
The French approach to these ceremonies is rather nice. There is a plan - it's even on paper - but there is no dress rehearsal. People just turn up when requested and do their bit. We were lucky to find out about it, and have our friends Jill and John to thank. This is also typical of France - these ceremonies take place every year, and everyone is just assumed to know where and when. We would have liked to stay for the whole ceremony and the vin d'honneur afterwards, but we had to leave midway through. This wasn't an issue - people came and left throughout the whole morning. The important thing in these small rural communities is to turn up, no matter how briefly, and no matter if you are in your work overalls.
For a related post on remembering Péchoire see Chez Charnizay, as Niall and Antoinette went to the exhibition in the village that was part of the commemoration this year.