Remembrances of friendships past

Yesterday in decluttering my personal  office I found a Canadian newspaper”the Toronto star” of Saturday,December 29,2001 in which I was pictured . Here is the story:

An old letter in a wallet .

In 1944 an intrepid 11 years old french boy welcomed with enthusiasm the Canadian army freeing the north – west coast of France where he lived . A gun battery located no far from his family home shot at the Cap Gris Nez , fortress where the Germans resisted . He wanted to participate , to have a comrade soldier and to live like a little soldier among the guns . He succeeded and he was proud to have a grand protective comrade . Then the Canadiens left for Holland . He was sad . A correspondence has been after the war until 1948 . But his last letter had not answer .

The Canadien soldier had kept this last letter in his wallet and at the spring … 2000 he asked his children to try to find the ” young ” French . They did and found him . A regular correspondence via the Internet during 1 1/2 year with the soldier ‘ s eldest daughter allowed to find again the friendship links in the new context , 56 years later .

At the end od December 2001 the ancient boy of 1944 crossed the Atlantic Ocean in order to be there at the canadian soldier ‘ s 60th wedding anniversary at the eve of New Year . It was a huge surprise for him orchestrated by his daughters . The two comrades ” in arms ” found again each other through in an inexpressible emotion .

The young boy of 1944 , it was me .

2001 Lettre dans un portefeuille

The letter that I sent in 1948 to Douglas Bible; Canadian soldier known in 1944

  • I had a comrade ….

In 1944 I was 11 years old and I lived in Marquise , little town situated between Boulogne – sur – Mer and Calais near France ‘ s northwest coast and particularly near the Cape Griz – Nez transformed by Germans in a dangerous fortress threatening Britain with big guns . My father was a worker in a factory and my mother remained at home , what it was frequent at this time . I was the only one child of the family .

During the War the school was occuped by germans , so we went to the elementary school half every day in a little house . With my friends we had a half – wild life and we played in the grazings differents kinds of games often warrior games . We did not like Germans at this time . Not only they were the envaders but they appropriated all goods . We had nothing . Very little to eat . My mother Marthe had to make clothes , sometimes bread and even…soap ! My father Emile resoled  shoes with bits of old tires . Fortunatly he had a friend , farmer in a next village . He helped him during his short holidays at the fields works and at the harvest ( works with horses ) . So we got some potatoes , pork , eggs and butter but not too much . My father was not a soldier . He had been called to remain in his factory which made arming and shells , if I well remember . He had not given his gun and his radio post as the Germans asked . So we listened to BBC ( British radio ) in French every night during all the war what it was strictly not allowed by Germans with the risk to be deported in Germany .

May and June 1944 were terrible months . Americans and Englishmen bombed huge areas all around us . The town of Boulogne – sur – mer was completely destroyed . Allied hoped that Germans would think the landing of american, english and canadian forces would have here , in north . Besides , Germans were building very important tubes under chalk hills in a village near Marquise called Landrethun in order to shoot missiles at England , especially at London . So , many big american bomber planes that we called ” flying fortress ” always bombed the Landrethun ‘ s area . American planes always were staying high in the sky to avoid the German anti – aircraft defence and threw their bombs moreless approximatively . One of them reached the objective from time to time but they reached anything else . My grand parents lived in Landrethun .

  One night my grand parents and their three last children heard the planes come in . They got up immediately and ran away to the shelter they had dug in the garden to about 25 meters from the house . As soon as they were in , they heard a terrible thunder . They were frightened to death . My youngest aunt ( Yolande ) went out of the shelter when the quietness was restored and shouted : ” Mom ! we have no more house ! There is nothing more ! ” At the place of the house there was a huge crater . The bomb was just fallen on the bedroom where they were just before . No more house , neither furnitures nor clothes ! Nothing ! At the far end of the house the roof of the cowshed was fallen on the four cows that were crying , their spinal column was broken . Germans brought them for butchery . My grand father became sick and died the next year .

My father built with other people a  kind of ” cottage ” for them, in reality a shack containing only one big room with wood taken up from german positions . Germans indeed were more and more running away but not all of them . The  Cape Gris – Nez  remained a dangerous fortress where they resisted . And , at last , the canadian army arrived in Marquise ( September 1944 ) . French people were in the streets congratulating the soldiers and fraternizing wih them . But , as soon as Canadiens were there , german guns , turned inland , shot us from the Cape Griz Nez . Peace was not there yet .

The canadian artillery arrived and shot the Cape Gris nez .  A battery was at the end of the street where my grand parents lived in Landrethun . I used to drive my bicycle from Marquise to Landrethun where my father built a shack for my grand parents and since the canadian battery was nearby I always was with the soldiers and looked at how the guns were working . At this time I was an intrepid  boy probably . I was proud to be among these soldiers who freed us and fought against ennemy for us . I had the impression to participate . I wanted to have a friend among these soldiers . I was a little the troop ‘ s kid . Quickly I fraternized with Douglas . He was kind and protected me strictly because I was not very prudent and even not at all . He was a straight man and I felt that . I don’ t remember how we understood each other since I had not learned English yet and he had some remembrances only about French .  Some words were sufficient probably . He was my comrade soldier that I was happy and proud to get . I wonder now how I could enter the battery . I asked someone ” Is Dougles there ? ” . If he was there I entered and wandered in the camp . From time to time we talked . We talked about the war ( I was informed ) , about his wife and also my family .

My parents invited Douglas for a meal at home in Marquise .I took him at his battery in landrethun and we walked and rode in bicycle along a lane between big marble quarries . My parents had put on the table a dusty bottle of wine to honour him . I wondered where they have had this bottle since we had nothing . I think it was a bottle remaining from my first Holy Communion Day in previous June . It must be carefully hidden .

One day I went to Landrethun . The battery was gone and also my comrade .

..
56 years later .

After the sudden departure of the canadian battery in 1944 ( see the precedent entry ) I felt sadness and emptyness . My father took pictures of me at the places where I used to talk with Douglas . I held a placard where his name was written , a child ‘ s idea to mark his presence . I sent those pictures to his address in Toronto ( Ontario ) in Canada . There was a correspondence but the answers were unfrequent and stopped in 1947 .

Then life undertook to busy me with studies , again studies , always studies , military service including a part of Algerian war , marriage , heavier and heavier activities in teaching , six children . In September 1994 I was retired and I have not seen time running away . Now , the young boy of 1944 was become the root of a family containing 23 persons . Family , gardening , music , spirituality took a large place in my retired gentleman ‘ s life .

One day , on the 22 May 2000 I received a letter from the Douglas ‘ eldest son : ” My name is Mike Bible and I am a teacher in Canada . I am trying to locate the Michel Fauquet who used to live in Marquise ( Pas de Calais , France ) a long time ago . My father Douglas B …. met him and his family when he was in France near the end of the second world war . If you are that Michel , please email me and let me know or write a letter to the adress below ….. “ .

What a choc ! Suddenly I was caught again by my youth , by an almost disappeared world , by the History ! It was vertiginous . What it was latent at the bottom of my memory brusquely lived again like the old pictures of 1944 at the botton of their wooden chest . I saw again all things . I had forgotten nothing . Douglas was well present in my memory . He had contributed with my parents and others at the construction of my personality . How would I have been able to forget him ? I wondered why he had been waiting for 56 years to search me . But for him also , life should have been very busy .

Whatever it was a wonderful story . So , as soon as I answered by e.mail to the eldest son in sending the same famous pictures sent at the war II end . But I specified I was not good in English language and I heard very badly the spoken English . Then I was very surprised to have to wait again about three months before to have an answer . I began to wonder . I wondered also how to do for re – etablishing links between two personalities who had been so much evoluting during more an half – century . Fortunatly in August 2000 an energetic woman , the Douglas ‘ eldest daughter , Lynn , handled the situation .

2001Canada Lynn

Lynn Burnett , Douglas ‘ daughter and I  ( December 2001)

    Friendship always was there .

 

…….Her brother Mike left for Bogota and her father Douglas being a bad writer , Lynn decided to handle the situation . On the 13 th of August 2000 she sent me an e.mail that began a correspondence over one year and half . We learned each other the Douglas ‘ family life and the mine . At Christmas 2000 we exchanged videotapes of the feast in the two families .

 

During the year 2001 Beverly , the Douglas ‘ wife had to remain 6 months at the hospital after a surgery . After the operation the situation became very serious with unpredictable consequences . During this critical phase Lynn and even her husband Wayne kept me informed by a daily e.mail as for a family member . Step by step I felt myself in solidarity with this family so well gathered around their parents .

 

At the Eve of the New Year 2002 it was their 60 th wedding anniversary . Fortunatly Beverly was healed . Lynn suggested to me to come . I accepted . The surprise was revealed to Douglas only at Christmas . ” Michel will arrive in two days , on the 27th of December ” . What a surprise ! And what a surprise also to see Toronto Star ‘ reporter and cameraman that were waiting for my arrival at the Toronto airport to relate in their newspaper the meeting between a canadian Vet and the French boy he knew in France in 1944 . The newspaper ‘ s picture will show very well the spontaneity of the meeting .

 

I was welcomed by Lynn and Wayne and by other family members like a choosen brother held in great affection with also some friendly taisings ( practice of cooking , of …crocheting ! ! ! Horror ! I am completely unable for this last activity in spite of the efforts of my terrible teacher Lynn  )

 

What about my relation with Douglas and his wife Beverly ? After a correspondence over a year and half I knew the Douglas 2001 and him knew I was no more the boy of 1944 but a mature man at least . However the incredible thing arrived . I felt inside for him , and also his wife now , the same franck friendship mixed with respect as in 1944 . Although tens of years were passed we talked and acted in the same way as if  we had left yesterday .

 

Time had been abolished . Friendship was there : permanent , unalterable

2001accueil à Toronto

First meet with Douglas Bible at the Pearson airport 1944- 2001  after 56 years

________________________________________________________________
Unfortunately Dougles died in 2007 and hs wife Beverly a few time after. But the memory always is alive . And  his daughter Lynn keeps in touch regularly /

 

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About fauquetmichel

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105 Responses to Remembrances of friendships past

  1. blb1 says:

    Michel I am so pleased you have shared this story with us. For those of us spared the horrors of war it makes me cherish the fact this modern convenience of the internet introduced me to you and your family and your experiences.

  2. oh my goodness. I’m crying with happiness over this beautiful story. How amazing that you met this man in your youth and even more amazing to rekindle that astonishing friendship so many years later. Thank you for sharing this story.

  3. Les contes de fées existent en vrai ! Merci, Michel, pour cette histoire tellement originale, tellement bouleversante, qui montre que des liens ténus résistent au temps. Merci également à Lynn parce que sans elle … Le lien résiste et il faut une personne, la bonne, pour réanimer la flamme. Somptueux !

    • C ‘est vrai, Gilles, que Lynn a beaucoup de mérites . Elle a entretenu pendant plusieurs mois des échanges de messages par Internet avant mon départ pour le Canada. pour me familiariser avec sa famille et en premier chef avec son père.

  4. ggcc13 says:

    A great memory and historic moment

  5. Gracia says:

    Thanks for sharing this amazing and beautiful story. I wonder in Heaven if we will spend eternity hearing others’ stories, or if we will already know them. God bless you and Janine and your family.

  6. puffpop says:

    I remember your writing on this good friend on Xanga. How very special. It was such an interesting time in our history. I know that Normandy is filled with the graves of American soldiers who gave their lives. How sad for those who didn’t survive, for the homes and beautiful architecture that were destroyed. How some survived the concentration camps was simply a miracle…One haulicost ( spelling is wrong and google doesn’t understand what I’m trying to say but you do) survivor has done such an incredibly beautiful thing when he created “Give Kids the World” here in Orlando, FL…Instead of bitterness, he made a beautiful place for children with incurable illnesses to come with their families and forget for a moment their diseases and sufferings. He had become wealthy and used his wealth to alleviate suffering… War can bring out the goodness of people as well as the evil.

  7. mrswrangler says:

    What a lovely and interesting story

  8. Lavinia Ross says:

    Michel, what a wonderful, beautiful story of enduring friendship! I am so glad you found this and posted it for your readers. I love that photo of you and your friend at the airport, reunited after 56 years! Both of your families are in my thoughts and prayers, Michel. I am glad his daughter still stays in touch with you. ❤

  9. Kindness and friendship is the most important thing in the World. 🙂

  10. L. Marie says:

    What a beautiful story, Michel! Those photos are making me tear up.
    I think I mentioned to you that I’m reading The Nightingale, a novel about the German occupation of France during World War II. Sad and fascinating.

  11. slmret says:

    This is a beautiful story of friendship and survival, Michel. Thank you for sharing it with us!

  12. Peggy says:

    What an amazing story! I want to read it more thoroughly when I have more time. Bless you, Michel ~

  13. cocosangel says:

    What a beautiful true story.
    I was amazed at the fact how, you know so much of Canada, and also have been here. And I think many don’t know!!! 😮
    What a heartwarming story. Of lives during the war. And how you and your grandparents, build their lives after the war was over, from scratch.
    I am so glad that your friendship kept, you both together. I can imagine how sad it was for you when he left. ❤

  14. weggieboy says:

    Best of all you had the chance to have a reunion with Douglas! Thanks for sharing this very personal remembrance of a bad time that had a positive outcome at the time, then an even better one decades later!

    • Yes, DOUG I was blessed and it was like a dream become real for me.

      • weggieboy says:

        The amazing thing to me is how you survived the Allied bombings. The part where your grandparents’ home was destroyed by a bomb alone is difficult to imagine since no one was injured or, thank God, killed!

      • They used as soon as ther were hearing the planes to run in a covered trench in the veggie garden . The house has been completely destroyed and the cows in the stable aside killed but the family was safe . However the chox was terrible .My grandfather died the next year

      • weggieboy says:

        Amazing. That’s the tragedy of war, though, how random death and destruction can be. Worse yet, the death and destruction can happen to civilians more often than to combatants.

  15. OH! 🙂 I remember you sharing this with us…I think on Xanga. (?) It brought tears of joy to my eyes them and after reading it again, I have joy-tears! 🙂

    I have shared your story about you and Douglas (no names involved) with other people and their hearts have been warmed and filled with joy upon hearing it! 🙂

    What a beautiful example of acceptance, respect, friendship, love, loyalty, kindness, etc!
    Thank you, Michel, for being love and light in our world! 🙂
    HUGS!!! 🙂

  16. What a lovely and touching story. I’m glad the friendship with Douglas’s daughter has continued. Thank you for sharing this and brightening up my day. 🙂

  17. Eat Right Chef Louisa says:

    Michel, I am deeply touched by this story of friendship between you and your Canadian friend. I remember distinctly this story that you wrote about on Xanga, but not in such great details. I am delighted to hear about the reunion orchestrated by your friend’s daughter, and to see your picture on the front page of the newspaper!

    • Tu as une bonne mémoire Louisa . J ‘ ai en effet posté ceci sur Xanga en 2002 mais en 3 entrées . Ici j’ ai rassemblé le tout mais j’ ai dû choisir un langage . Avec le Français cela aurait été trop long.

  18. Annalisa S. says:

    Very moving moving story! Many many thanks for sharing it there. Hugs!

  19. marica0701 says:

    What a beautiful story; I am so happy that you were reunited after all that time!

    My mom, by chance, ran into her childhood best friend at the grocery store last week; they hadn’t seen each other for I think 19 years. My mom was crying when they recognized each other. They spent some time together on Monday and now they will try to meet about once a month.

  20. Zakiah says:

    Dear Michel,
    Wow! Just wow! I was riveted to your account of your childhood, the friendship, the loss of your grandparents’ house, the agony of going through the war, and the reunion half a century later.
    Movies are made of stories like this, me thinks. Thank you for sharing such an important part of your life with your reads.
    Love,
    Zakiah.

  21. Gayle Smith says:

    What an amazing story Michel! It always impressed me how you lived through that time as a young boy! I am so glad you were able to connect with Douglas after all those years!!!

  22. Christine Hadley says:

    I remember this story from xanga, it’s still wonderful. I’m glad you are in touch with his daughter. Love, Christine

  23. whyzat says:

    Unfortunately, bombs couldn’t be directed more precisely back then as they can be now. I hate that there was such a great civilian toll. I’m glad you are still with us to give us your eye witness accounts!

  24. Oh Michel, this post touched my heart. I Love it. It love that you got to meet again b/4 Douglas and his wife passed. What a lovely story and beautiful memory. THank you so much for sharing. Hugs

  25. joyce says:

    what a treasure of memories for you, michel. thank you so much for sharing it with your ‘family’ of facebook friends. you are indeed blessed!

  26. Anna says:

    Michel,

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful story of yours. I loved reading it and the friendship you and Douglas shared shone out through your words. Brought tears to my eyes as this is testament of true friendship. This gives me hope. Love, Anna

  27. What a wonderful story!

  28. I have no words for such a stunning story. God directs ❤

  29. Marion Manson says:

    A truly wonderful post on the endurance of real friendship! 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing this with us, Michel. ❤

  30. Isabel Capillas says:

    Heartwarming story, precious friendship. ❤

  31. A wonderful post and how endearing long friendship can be. Thank you for sharing this with the rest of us………..Marilyn ❤

  32. suester7 says:

    What a beautiful, touching story, Michel. Thanks for sharing it with us. Moments after reading this blog entry, I found myself quietly drinking in the beauty of it, instead of typing a reply.

    It’s amazing how God brings genuine friendships into our lives, even in the midst of extraordinary circumstances, isn’t it?

  33. Rachel says:

    You are well-loved, my friend!
    🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻

  34. What a wonderful story! A friendship formed in time of war can be very strong and yours obviously was! It was wonderful that you were able to spend this man’s anniversary with him and his wife and to have another meeting with him after so many years. Did you write about this friendship on Xanga? I seem to remember hearing something about it before.

  35. What a beautiful and amazing story. I can relate to it particularly as for the last six years I have been looking for the families of the men who were captured with my father in Singapore in 1942. We have letters about these men written to my mother during the war. The internet is wonderful and there have been very happy moments, such as finding that the grandson on one of these men, and my father’s granddaughter (our daughter), had been in the same class at school.

  36. Michel! What a remarkable, multi-layered story you’ve shared with us. Thank you very much for doing so. I loved reading it. The way we meet certain people, and their impact on our lives, can be so powerful.

  37. Yvonne B. says:

    Wonderful memories and history – very multi-layered.

    (And wishes for a wonderful Birthday to you. Good wishes and health to Janine and the rest of your family.)

  38. twoberry says:

    So beautiful to read your story. Be well, mon ami.

  39. twoberry says:

    Merci, Michel, for la belle conte (is conte a feminine noun?; Je ne reconnu pas) Votre anglais is so much better than mon francais. It’s hard (difficile) for me to access this site. Please email me at:
    twoberry at comcast dot net. I would love for us to converse.

  40. Larry Banner says:

    What an awesome story, Michel, such wonderful memories!! An enjoyable read – – and I often read the Toronto Star here in my hometown. Thank you for sharing this!

    Wishing you a very happy birthday today as well! Cheers and best wishes, from both Wendy and myself!

    • thank you Larry for your birthday wishes .
      Yes the Toronto star did a good report notifying my difficulties to hear the English spoken anf to find my words to answer.This has not changed much!

  41. A wonderful, precious story!!

  42. I hope you had a good weekend and a Happy Birthday, Michel!
    HUGS!!! 🙂

  43. bernard25 says:

    Bonjour ou Bonsoir mes amies , amis (MICHEL) quelle rencontre

    J’aime venir parfumer ton joli blog
    Avec un parfum qui vient du cœur
    Mon plus beau parfum de l’amitié
    Pour embellir notre vie
    Rien de tel que des amies et amis
    Ce parfum qui fait mon bonheur
    Je te l’offre avec mon coeur
    En te souhaitant une excellente journée ou soirée

    Avec un champ de Roses parfumés

    Gros Bisous

    Bernard

  44. guestbrief says:

    Happy birthday! Your photo essay about your longtime friend again being found was precious. So many people need friends and there are really so very few. Makes each one an extra blessing. ❤ love Rhonda

  45. neilc693 says:

    What an amazing story! It’s heartening to see that, in the end, the good things endured.

  46. L. Gail says:

    It seems like a miracle that you were able to reconnect with your old friend. I love the story of during wartime and your experiences.

  47. guestbrief says:

    Thank you for your comments on my growing grandchildren!! ❤

  48. mlbncsga says:

    Mornin Glorie! I remember your writing about Douglas on Xanga, I don’t, however, recall you speaking so completely about the war experience. Isn’t it remarkable how people affect us. Thank you for sharing yourself and your family with us, it makes us like family too! ILYM

  49. iampeacenow says:

    This is such a beautiful and amazing story of friendship. How wonderful to have experienced such a friendship that truly lasted beyond the years and distance. I am so happy for you that you were able to reconnect with him those last years of his life. The war was filled with such heartbreak and loss and yet from that this wonderful friendship came into being. Thank you so much for sharing this story, Michel.
    love & peace,
    Jane

  50. Oh, Michel!

    This is such a special story. I’m so grateful you were able to restore your contact with him. It must have been so touching for you to learn he had saved your last letter all these years, in his wallet! That’s remarkable. What a great story. It would make a wonderful movie. God bless you, dear man. I trust your health is well. I know you have been undergoing treatment. You are in my thoughts and prayers, even though I do not always make it to your blog in a timely way. You are blessing to me.

    Much love,
    Caroline ❤

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