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Exhibition Honours Free French and St. Lucian World War II Veterans

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005 - An interesting exhibition is currently taking place at the Alliance Francaise building (also known as “The Pyramid”) at Pointe Seraphine.

Organised by the Alliance Francaise and designed by local historian Gregor Williams, the exhibition of photos and documents is “to honour the Free French Volunteers and the St. Lucian Veterans of World War II.”

According to a brochure distributed at the opening, the exhibit -- which opened on December 17 -- “honours the people of St. Lucia, who, as subjects of the British crown, wholeheartedly supported the efforts in the struggles of World War II.”

According to the organisers' brochure, “They volunteered in civil defence, active service and enlisted in British, Canadian, and United States forces.”

“This war,” it continued, “against tyranny and the threat of a new slavery and suppression, was fought by millions of people all over the world and 55 million died.”

“Most of all, St. Lucians take great pride in their assistance to France, Frenchmen and the people of neighbouring Martinique by serving as an escape route for volunteers fleeing the Vichy-controlled Government of Martinique.”

“They welcomed the dissidents, who were also known as the Free French and protected and lodged them.
The St. Lucians also appreciated the presence of the dissidents and anciens conbttants of Martinique, who annually join the Armistice Day wreath-laying ceremonies.”

The opening of the exhibition was attended by local veterans and their families, as well as by a large contingent of French visitors, mostly from neighbouring Martinique, who were here also to participate in the annual Martinique-St. Lucia “Gomier” boat race.

The Gomier boat race features use of indigenous canoes reminiscent of those used by the Free French dissidents who escaped to St. Lucia to help in the fight of resistance.

The launching of the exhibition also featured the screening of a film entitled “Journey of the Dissidents”, which traced the path taken by those fleeing the Vichy-led Martinican colonial government. The film was produced by French film-maker, Mrs Euzhan Palcy.

Mr. Gregor Williams has advised that the exhibition will remain open until the second week of January “in order to facilitate those school children who haven't got a chance to see it as yet.”

The exhibition has drawn positive reviews from those who have seen it and it ends on January 14, 2005.


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