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Le Souvenir Francais de Chine

L'histoire des Francais de Chine racontée autrement…

Hong Kong – Cérémonie en mémoire des Forces Françaises Libres le 7 décembre 2011

Posté par Claude Jaeck le 8 décembre 2011

Le Consulat général de France à Hong Kong et Macao a organisé conjointement avec l’association « Souvenir français de Chine » une cérémonie le 7 décembre 2011 en mémoire des Forces françaises libres à l’occasion du 70è anniversaire de la bataille de Hong Kong.

Il y a 70 ans exactement, en décembre 1941, au lendemain de Pearl Harbour, l’armée japonaise attaquait Hong Kong. Des Français des Forces Françaises Libres se sont battus et sont morts lors de cette bataille. Une cérémonie publique en leur mémoire s’est tenue le 7 décembre 2011 au cimetière militaire de Stanley, autour de la stèle qui leur est consacrée, en présence de Mme Monique Westmore, fille de M. Armand Delcourt, l’un des six Français dont le nom figure sur la stèle. Après un hommage rendu par le Consul général de France et le représentant du Souvenir français de Chine, Mme Westmore a lu une lettre d’un ami de son père décrivant l’exécution de ce dernier. Ont également participé à cette cérémonie le Conseiller des Français de l’étranger en résidence à Hong Kong, l’Attaché de défense de l’Ambassade, des représentants de l’association des ex-servicemen et des élèves du Lycée français de Hong Kong, qui ont rappelé le destin tragique de chacun de ces six Français libres.

Le Consulat général de France et le Souvenir français, qui fait un travail remarquable de recherche historique, continueront à entretenir la mémoire de ces Français, dont l’histoire appartient à celle de la communauté française de Hong Kong, au cours de cérémonies du souvenir ouvertes à tous.

Source : http://consulfrance-hongkong.org/Ceremonie-en-memoire-des-Forces,5358

DISCOURS DU CONSUL GENERAL DE FRANCE A HONG KONG ET MACAO,

MR. ARNAUD BARTHELEMY

Monsieur le Conseiller des Français de l’étranger,
Dear representative of the ex-servicemen association, dear Director of the China Commonwealth War Graves Commission,
Mon Colonel,
Mesdames, Messieurs, Jeunes gens,
Je voudrais d’abord remercier Le Souvenir Français pour avoir pris l’initiative d’organiser avec le Consulat général de France cette cérémonie de commémoration. Je voudrais également remercier le Directeur de la Commission des cimetières militaires du Commonwealth : Dear Mr Derek Cheung, I would like to thank you for your constant cooperation and support for the organization of our remembrance ceremonies at the Stanley military cemetery.
Nous commémorons aujourd’hui la bataille de Hong Kong, qui s’est déroulée en décembre 1941, il y a exactement 70 ans. Hong Kong a fait partie des toutes premières cibles de l’offensive japonaise en Asie, après l’attaque de Pearl Harbour à l’aube du 7 décembre 1941. Il ne fallût que quelques semaines aux troupes japonaises pour s’emparer de Hong Kong et, dès le 25 décembre 1941, la colonie britannique était prise. S’ensuivirent 4 longues années d’occupation.
Nous sommes réunis aujourd’hui pour rendre hommage aux Français libres qui se sont illustrés lors de cette bataille ainsi que dans la résistance à l’occupation japonaise. Ils sont six dont les noms figurent sur cette stèle: Frédéric Jocosta, Armand Delcourt, Pierre Mathieu, René Egal, Henri Belle, Paul de Roux. Des élèves du Lycée français vont dans un instant raconter l’histoire du sacrifice de ces Français.
Je salue avec beaucoup d’émotion la présence exceptionnelle aujourd’hui à nos côtés de Mme Monique Westmore, fille d’Armand Delcourt, qui nous fait revivre le sacrifice de son père, il y a 70 ans.
Armand Delcourt, Frédéric Jocosta, Pierre Mathieu, René Egal, Henri Belle et Paul de Roux ont donné leur vie pour que la liberté l’emporte sur l’oppression. Ils se sont battus pour les valeurs de la République française, ils se sont battus pour la liberté de Hong Kong.
La mémoire d’autres Français, qui n’ont pas leur nom sur cette stèle mais dont le Souvenir français s’emploie à retrouver et faire connaître l’histoire et l’action, méritent d’être honorée aujourd’hui. Je pense en particulier à Louis Reynaud, Consul général de France à Hong Kong, qui en juin 1940 s’est déclaré partisan de la France libre, a été destitué par sa hiérarchie mais a continué, de fait, étant en territoire britannique, à exercer ses fonctions jusqu’en décembre 1941. Il est mort à Hong Kong, en 1943, de fatigue et de maladie. Son secrétaire, M. Dao, issu de la colonie française d’Indochine, s’est engagé dans les Forces françaises libres et a été tué dès les premiers jours de la bataille de Hong Kong.
Nous avons la chance de n’avoir pas connu cette période dramatique. Nous avons, envers ces hommes qui, venaient d’horizons très différents mais se sont sacrifiés pour le même idéal de liberté, un devoir de reconnaissance et un devoir de mémoire. C’est bien dans cet esprit, que, dès 1948, le Consul général de France avait fait ériger cette stèle à la mémoire des Français libres de Hong Kong dans le cimetière de Stanley. Aujourd’hui, des cérémonies du souvenir
sont organisées régulièrement, en particulier à l’occasion des escales des navires de la marine nationale à Hong Kong, comme ce fut le cas en avril dernier.
Ce devoir de mémoire, nous devons le transmettre aux jeunes générations, c’est pourquoi je suis particulièrement heureux que des élèves du lycée français participent à cette cérémonie.
L’histoire des Français libres de Hong Kong fait partie de l’histoire de la communauté française de Hong Kong , et je suis heureux que la doyenne de notre communauté, Mme Monique Dutard, soit présente aujourd’hui.
Je souhaite rendre hommage, au nom de la France, à l’esprit de sacrifice et de dévouement, à l’amour de la liberté dont ces hommes ont fait preuve. Leur action nous inspire le respect et nous invite à une vigilance constante afin que la folie meurtrière des responsables de la seconde guerre mondiale ne puisse jamais renaître, sous quelque forme que ce soit.

Mr. Francois Dremeaux, Representant le Delegue General du Souvenir Francais de Chine

ARTICLE DU SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST DU 8 DECEMBRE 2011

French remember fighters by Helene Franchineau

Seventy years after the battle of Hong Kong started, the French consulate and members of the French community gathered at Stanley Military Cemetery to commemorate the French Resistance fighters who died trying to
protect the city from the Japanese invaders.
It was organised by Le Souvenir Francais de Chine, an association that works to shine a light on forgotten parts of French history in China. « Hong Kong was one of the first targets of the Japanese in the Pacific
region after Pearl Harbour, » said Arnaud Barthelemy, French consul general. « I want to pay tribute to the dedication those young French soldiers showed. » He spoke in front of a stone with the names of six soldiers.
The battle lasted until December 25, 1941, when the allied forces surrendered. The Japanese occupation ended in August 1945. Colonel Loic Frouart, the defence attache at the French embassy in Beijing, and Brigadier Christopher Hammerbeck, executive director of the British Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, also took part in yesterday’s ceremony. Three pupils from the French International School read out the name and details of each dead fighter.
Francois Dremeaux, a history teacher at the school, said that when the stone was inaugurated in 1948, it had four names. Two more were added in the 1970s. « We do not have much information on the French
Resistance movement in Hong Kong. »
They were a mixture of military men and civilians. « Not more than 20 Frenchmen fought overall. Nothing forced them to: it was not a French territory. They just fought for what they thought was right. »

Source : South China Morning Post / Helene Franchineau /  Dec 08, 2011


‘I am thinking about my friend, Armand’

Carlos Arnulphy
GPO Box 465
Hong Kong

December 23rd 1978

My dear Monique,

I am thinking about my friend, Armand Delcourt, who was injured by two bayonet thrusts in the stomach on December 21st 1941, during the Battle of the Ridge, on the tip of the Repulse Bay road. At that time, the battle had lasted several days and the casualties on both sides were very high. That was the day when he was reportedly killed.
However, two days later, he managed to go down to Repulse Bay in a small abandoned car in which he could not use the pedals; he had hoped to find help there. He was captured by the Japanese and immediately beaten up, then his hands were tied up behind his back with electrical wire, he was dragged down, with a dozen of his fellow injured fighters, on a lawn facing the sea.
They were all forced to kneel down and were shot dead with one rifle bullet in the neck. Their bodies were then doused with petrol and burnt, to the Japanese’s great delight. They gathered around this funeral pyre and burst into laughter.
Unfortunately for the Japanese, this party ended with the death of the executioners, as when Armand’s body was well burnt, grenades that had he had stuffed into his pockets blew up, to the great surprise of all the officers who were watching the scene from a distance.
This is when his torment ended. I feel him close to me, because we were united by a very deep friendship dating from the beginning of 1926, when we met in a French restaurant in the centre of the island.
Soon after, we both set up our offices in adjacent rooms on the same floor of the same building, so that, for whatever reason, we would navigate from one firm to the other to ask one another’s advice or tell a joke.
Before the Japanese attack, the 18 months we spent working at the « Comite de la France Libre » (one of the French Resistance committees), where we were both advisers (four members in total), strengthened our
friendship even more deeply. This is why I feel he is still close to me, always.

(Signature)
Our warm feelings to your husband, Carlos and Yolande

Source : South China Morning Post / Helene Franchineau /  Dec 08, 2011

Daughter of HK’s war

Monique Westmore was a day old when her mother fled the invading Japanese after they killed the father she never knew. Seventy years on, she is in HK for an event to commemorate French Resistance fighters.

From her early childhood in Hong Kong, Monique Westmore can still speak Cantonese, a language she knows almost perfectly. Only a slight twist of her tongue betrays the many years she spent in England and in Australia, where she now lives. Monique, who turns 70 on January 5, has spent her life hopping from one country to another, but Hong Kong may be the place where she has the deepest connection.
She was born just days after her father, Armand Delcourt, a 42-year-old French businessman, was killed by the Japanese during the battle of Hong Kong. His fiancee Evelyn, who was living in Shouson Hill at the time, decided to flee the invasion.
« My mother was half-Scottish and half-Japanese, but I don’t think the Japanese soldiers noticed that. » Monique was born in the church of St Paul’s convent, Causeway Bay. The day after she was born, her mother fled to Saigon on a small boat with other war refugees. « There were lots of rats. My mother had just given birth to me and was trying to feed me. The journey was very hard for her. » Some of her father’s friends gave them shelter, until the Japanese army arrived. Mother and daughter fled to the jungle until the end of the war in 1945. They eventually returned to Hong Kong and
settled at 218 Prince Edward Road.
Monique attended school in the city until the age of nine. Her mother, who was the personal assistant of the director of the Hong Kong-Canton Export Company, then sent her to boarding school in Australia and England.
« My mother suffered a lot during the war. She was always very secretive and did not really want me around … it was only after she died that I learnt by a close friend of hers the way I was born. »
The Japanese soldiers, after their victory on December 25, started assaulting women and raping them. Her mother was not raped, but they violated her with a rifle, breaking her water. When her mother settled in Paris, Monique completed her last two years of secondary schooling. In 1961, Monique married and gave birth to a son the following year. The relationship did not last and she later moved to London and married an Australian.
She hosted a radio programme broadcasted by the British Travel Association. « I had to introduce Swinging London to a French audience, » she says with a smile.
She travelled the world with her son and husband for three years, eventually settling near Melbourne in 1975. She opened a restaurant, and in 1985, enrolled in university. « I have a degree in social work and a master’s in family therapy. »
Monique has been a social worker for more than 25 years, specialising in psychiatry and mental illness. She still works – two days a week. Shortly after settling in Australia, she received in 1978 a letter written by Carlos Arnulphy, her father’s best friend and a witness to his death. In the letter (see below), Monique learned for the first time how her father was killed.
« As I read the letter, my mother, who was there with me, stormed out of the room and cried. Her second husband told her that the first love is always the most important. »
« My father has always played a huge role in my life and my aunt was my greatest link to him. I guess she saw him in me, » Monique said. When she was young, her aunt would tell her that her father was in heaven. Often when Monique was playing alone or spending time being creative, she would look up at the sky and say: « Look dad, did you see what I did? » Today she wears a bracelet carrying those words. Monique said yesterday’s event by the French consulate honouring the soldiers that died in Hong Kong was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the memory of her father. She confessed being nervous before the ceremony, but managed to stay composed. « The students gave me the courage not to cry, » she said.

Source : South China Morning Post / Helene Franchineau /  Dec 08, 2011


Tags: Bataille de Hong Kong, Cimetière militaire de Stanley, Cimetières, Commémorations, Cérémonies, Forces Francaises Libres, Hong Kong

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