French pupils honour Abergavenny D-Day hero who helped liberate their Normandy village
Updated 11:19am Thursday 30th May 2013 in Gwent news
A NORMANDY veteran who helped to liberate a French village from the Nazis nearly 70 years ago met children from the school that was named in his honour yesterday.
Dave Edwards, 88, of Abergavenny, battled to help free the Nazi-occupied village of Mondrainville just weeks after D-Day in 1944.
Mr Edwards, who was an infantry soldier with the 2nd Battalion the Monmouthshire Regiment 53rd (Welsh Infantry Division) fought with the late Tom Griffiths, of Abergavenny, in the Second World War.
Mr Edwards was involved in the battle for Caen, when his regiment was ordered to take over front-line positions from a battalion of the 15th Scottish Infantry Division in Mondrainville, where his regiment stayed for two weeks, defending it and helping to liberate it from the Nazis.
The soldiers moved by night to defend the village.
Mr Edwards, who was shot in the leg near Mondrainville, said conditions were both dangerous and difficult.
While there he came across an unoccupied farmhouse and found a black and white photograph of the house in the rubble by the doorway, which he put in his pocket as a souvenir.
Forty-two years later, in 1986, he returned to Normandy with other veterans and decided to find the house in the picture.
A chance meeting in the street with the now mayor of Mondrainville, Jean-Louis Le Goff, whose mother owned the house, forged close links with the village and led to a school being named after them and a road after their colleague, Cpl Edward Chapman, VC, of New Inn.
Mr Edwards said: “Monsieur Le Goff said that they were building a newschool and would like to name it L’Ecole Edwards- Griffiths to honour our efforts and the efforts of those who fought for the freedom of the village.”
Mr Edwards said it was an honour to be at the official naming ceremony with Mr Griffiths in 2004.
He said: “We were just two ordinary infantrymen but it was an absolute honour and a privilege. I like to think we share this honour with all the men of the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the Monmouthshire Regiment who fought at Mondrainville in June and July 1944, and in particular memory of those many who died for the freedom we share.”
Forty-four pupils from L’Ecole Edwards-Griffiths met Mr Edwards at Llanyrafon Manor yesterday as part of their visit to the UK.
Headmistress Caroline De Pechy said: “They are the heroes of the village. It is very important for the children to learn about what happened and what they, and what they, and many others, did for the people of Mondrainville.”
A view of L’Ecole Edwards-Griffiths in Mondrainville:
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