1st Bn Royal Fusiliers and Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (London) Branch of the Fusiliers Association

Remembering The Marne


September 2020

In a year during which very little has happened, it is pleasing to report that the annual visit to France to commemorate the 1st Battle of the Marne in 1914 did take place. Government advice was against it due to covid, but the hardy ones that went – just 17 of us – took the view that since our former comrades of the BEF crossed the channel in 1914 to face far worse dangers than we ever would, we should show some determination. We behaved sensibly and not one of us contracted the virus.



The party left Balham early on Thursday 10th September all face masked up and seated “socially distanced” on our coach. A quick journey via the tunnel got us to our hotel near Epernay late afternoon in magnificent Champagne Region weather typical for the time of year which prevailed all weekend.



Friday 11th saw us after a leisurely breakfast being in La Ferte sous Jouarre by 1100hrs for wreath laying at the impressive War Memorial upon which are inscribed 3700 names of members of the BEF who fell at Mons, Le Cateau, during the retreat and at the battles of the Marne and Aisne who have no known grave. Attended by French dignitaries and we were entertained afterwards. A delightful lunch in an open air restaurant followed.


In the evening several of the party ventured into Epernay where lovely bars and restaurants abound. No problem for us behaving cautiously. Remainder dined at our hotel which has an excellent chef.



Saturday 12th was a day off devoted to champagne buying etc until we went to Sezanne late afternoon to lay a wreath remembering our French allies who died in the Marne battle and our French hosts did likewise for their British allies. An informal yet moving occasion following which there was sadly no reception due to covid. We returned to our hotel to all dine together enjoying a splendid dinner.



Sunday 13th was the main day of the commemoration weekend with ceremonies by the magnificent Marne battle Memorial at Mondement. Enhanced greatly by the presence of French youth groups and the band of the 4th Hussards the leading French cavalry regiment band who played splendidly. A champagne reception in the grounds of the Chateau Mondement followed.


Then came the always outstanding five course lunch of friendship with flowing wine, which would easily set anyone back £100 minimum in a London restaurant. Finally that afternoon, as the whole weekend includes reconciliation as much as commemoration, we participated in a wreath laying ceremony at the German cemetery at Connantre.


Back to our hotel early evening ready for the off next day which saw us back at Balham early evening.


By going to France we scored big time thanks from our French hosts for being there and indeed from our hotel who had suffered so much earlier economic hardship from the lockdown in France. Our presence as usual was a big feather in the cap for the regiment of course as well. Our coach operator was equally grateful. The enjoyment and comradeship throughout the weekend was outstanding.



1st Bn Royal Fusiliers and Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (London) Branch of the Fusiliers Association


Ray O'Brien

5 Ashurst Drive, Worth, Crawley,

West Sussex RH10 7FS

Tel: 07988 833944

Email: rayobn1@gmail.com



Colonel M J Dudding OBE TD DL



Lieutenant Colonel K W Kiddie


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