A lovely spring afternoon, our March ceremony was held in sunshine with many members of the public present.
We remembered Private Francis Maracle who died exactly 80 years ago today. Private Maracle was a Canadian citizen and arrived in England in July 1941 and dies less than a year later, probably the result of an accident. Aged just 19 years old, he is buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery in Plot 36, grave G6.
Private Maracle is remembered at two locations in Canada: on the war memorial in his home town of Deseronto and also the Six Nations-Mississauga War Memorial Marker, erected by the Six Nations and-Mississauga Indians at Veterans’ Park, Ohsweken, Brant County, Ontario. The latter listing shows that Private Maracle was a Native American of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tusarora tribes, the six nations who constitute the largest First Nation, indigenous people’s reserve in Canada.
Rob Bennett officiated at the ceremony and we were grateful to the young member of the public and a veteran for saying the Exhortation and the Kohima Epitaph.
Alan Lopez was our Standard Bearer, with Tom Milne parading the Union Flag. We also had the US flag, and standards from the Artists Rifles, the Woking Royal Naval Association and the Royal British Legion Bisley, Knaphill and West End branch.
A student from Gordon’s School sounded the Last Post and Ian Cartwright was the Parade Marshall.
Afterwards we had refreshments at the Trench Experience.
Thank you to Paul McCue for the research and text, and Mike Hillman for the photographs, used with permission.
Our February Last Post was held in chilly conditions with some sun shining. The Gordon’s School Pipes and Drums were originally scheduled to travel to Belgium for remembrance, but as the restrictions in place made that challenging, we were grateful they paraded with us.
We remembered two individuals. One of whom we have briefly remembered before, but with it being the 80th anniversary of his death a detailed account of his life and death were given.
Gunner Thomas Troy, 1st Light Anti-aircraft Regt, Royal Canadian Artillery, died 6th February 1942, aged 40. He was the son of Thomas Franis and Effie Jane Troy, of Woodstock, New Brunswick, Canada, husband of Iva Troy, also of Woodstock and the father of three children. One son and three brothers were also serving in the Canadian Army. His cause of death is not known and he is buried in plot 36, grave E2, Brookwood Military Cemetery.
Lieutenant André Bloch (who served as Lieutenant Alan George Boyd) was a secret agent of F (French) Section, Special Operations Executive (SOE). He was born 19th June 1914 in Paris, the son of French Jews, Edmond and Suzanne Bloch.
A graduate of Lyon university, he worked as a solicitor’s clerk. When war came, he served in the French Army as a liaison officer with the British Expeditionary Force and after the fall of France in 1940, came to England and chose to join the Royal Fusiliers of the British Army, rather than the Free French forces of General de Gaulle. He volunteered for SOE in February 1941 and began his training as an agent at STS 5, Wanborough Manor, not far from Brookwood. He was commissioned into the General List of the British Army and was parachuted into France in September 1941 as radio operator for the AUTOGYRO network. At one time he was the only F Section radio operator working in the Nazi-occupied zone of France and served five different agents.
Bloch is believed to have been arrested in Le Mans by the Germans on or about 13 November 1941. One version of the reason for his capture is that a French neighbour had denounced him as a Jew. It was later reported that he had remained silent despite beatings and torture and though he had been caught with a radio, it is doubtful if the Germans discovered that their prisoner was a British officer. Normally, any such captured agent would have been deported to Germany, but Bloch instead suffered the fate of many of his fellow Frenchmen caught in resistance activity. He was tried by a German military court, sentenced to death and taken to Fort Mont-Valérien in Suresnes in the western suburbs of Paris and it was there, in a clearing close to the fort’s walls, that Bloch was shot on 11 February 1942. Bloch was the first SOE agent to be executed by the Nazis in France. He was aged 27.
Our poem this month was written by a colleague of André Bloch, F Section SOE agent Lieutenant Maurice Pertschuk, Captured in France in April 1943 and eventually sent to Buchenwald concentration camp, Pertschuk wrote this (untitled) poem while in captivity. He was executed on 29th March 1945, shortly before the camp was liberated, but his poems were found and later published in Paris in 1946. In 2003 they were published in English as ‘Leaves of Buchenwald’.
The murmuring pain,
Of the rain,
In my heart, and the music that streams
Through my dreams,
Each note like a petal
That falls on the grass,
In each petal, the tinkle
Oh Lord, let me dream,
Let me float away
From this grimy hell;
Let the sea wind spray,
And the ocean sway
Its soothing swell.
Let me dream of a world of silence,
– Oh let me try! –
With the moon, gently rocking
In a dreaming sky.
Our Standard Bearer was Alan Lopez, and Eddie Jones paraded the Union Flag. There was also Standards from the Royal British Legion Bisley, Knaphill and West End Branch, and the Woking Royal Naval Association paraded by Norman Holden and Keith Tarling respectively.
Mrs Ruth Moore sounded the Last Post and the ceremony was officiated by Paul McCue.
Afterwards refreshments were held at The Trench Experience. Thanks to Paul McCue for text and Mike Hillman for the photographs, used with permission.
Over 40 people joined us for the first Last Post of 2022.
Since 2017, we have remembered named individuals that have been killed in various conflicts. These individual remembrances are extra special when family members can be present as it makes the ceremony more poignant and emotional. Our historian, Paul McCue, also of the Secret WW2 Learning Network researches and presents details and biographies of individuals at each ceremony in a way that brings home the sacrifices made to a far greater extent than can be delivered via this page.
The Individual Remembrance today was no exception. Private Maynard Allen Paul of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps who died on this day 80 years ago, age 26. The images below tell his story.
Mrs Ruth Moore sounded the Last Post. Alan Lopez was our Standard Bearer and Tom Milne paraded the Union Flag. Also on parade were Eddie Jones parading The Artists Rifles Standard and Norman Holden parading the Royal British Legion Bisley, Knaphill and West End Branch Standard. Keeping everyone in check was our Parade Marshall, Ian Cartwright.
We followed the short ceremony and afterwards retired to the Trench Experience for refreshments.
Thank you to Alan Meeks for the photos and Paul McCue for the Individual Research details.