• Plage Bonaparte à Plouha (Côtes d'Armor) - Haut-lieu de la Résistance

  • Sacy-le-Grand (Oise) - Mémorial en souvenir du F/O H. H. MacKenzie (RCAF)

  • Supermarine LF Mk.Vb Spitfire EP120 - G-LFVB - (The Fighter Collection)

  • Le Cardonnois (Somme) - Stèle à la mémoire de l'équipage du Boeing B-17 #42-31325, 452nd Bomb Group

  • B-17G-85-VE 44-8846 - F-AZDX - (FTV)

 

8th May 2022

 

Ceremony in tribute to Gilbert Thibault

 

Auneuil (Oise)

 

 

Copyright © 2022 - Association des Sauveteurs d'Aviateurs Alliés - All rights reserved -

                                                                                                                In French france 

 

     "I wish that the name of Thibault and that of his "Alsace" network appear in the History of Oise in their rightful place".

     This is the last sentence that Henri Maigret, Gilbert Thibault's assistant, wrote in 1994 in his book "An escape network in the Oise at Auneuil".

     This wish came true on 8 May 2022 in Auneuil where Gilbert Thibault settled in 1937.

     After a first meeting in May 2020 with the family of Gilbert Thibault and Mr. Hans Dekkers, mayor of Auneuil, Mr. Dekkers promised to organize a tribute in memory of Gilbert Thibault in his commune. Unfortunately, the health crisis, and the many constraints that resulted from it, delayed the continuation of the project during the years 2020 and 2021.

     After these long months of uncertainty, the promise made by Mr. Dekkers and his municipal council to honour the memory of Gilbert Thibault and his Alsace escape network came to fruition on 8 May 2022.

     Local and departmental elected officials, officers from the Departmental Military Delegation and the Gendarmerie, firefighters from Auneuil, patriotic associations, members of Gilbert Thibault’s family as well as members of the public, approximately 250 people in all gathered in front of the townhall.

devantla mairie copie

     The long procession was then led by the BLV band from Aux Marais to the cemetery where the tribute ceremonies were to take place.

fanfare

     As the spectators gathered around the war memorial, the commemoration ceremony of the 77th anniversary of the German surrender in 1945 began.

Monument aux morts 1

Monument aux morts 2

     Tribute was also paid to the graves of the seven British soldiers who died on 30 August 1944 near Auneuil, during the Liberation battles at the "Point du Jour" farm.

gerbesepultures

Tombes britanniques

 

      The ceremony paying homage to Gilbert Thibault took place directly afterwards.

     The memorial honouring his memory was unveiled, succession of wreaths that were laid by Gilbert Thibault's family, Souvenir Français, ASAA-Oise, Mrs. Nadège Lefèbvre, President of the Departmental Council of Oise jointly with Mr. Olivier Paccaud, senator, and by the municipality. 

Dvoilement
Mrs. Yseult Desmedt (on the right), cousin of Gilbert Thibault unveiling the memorial.
 
Depotgerbefamille

Wreath laid by Gilbert Thibault's family.

 depotgerbe2
Mr. Olivier Paccaud and Mrs. Nadege Lefebvre
 
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    The schoolchildren of Auneuil retraced the biography of this extraordinary resistance fighter and then performed the Marseillaise and the Chant des Partisans. The memory of other villagers, as well as members of the Alsace escape network has not been forgotten. All took enormous risks in harbouring or escorting Allied airmen fallen from the sky, some of whose descendants attended this ceremony.

     The floor was then given to Mrs. Jauffret. With great emotion, she recalled that while researching the story of her cousin Gilbert Thibault, her family came into contact with our Association. She also mentioned how a medal that belonged to her cousin and was found in an office of the town hall of Auneuil, allowed a first meeting with Mr. Dekkers during the year 2020.

MmeJauffret

"... When the "Alsace" network was created, André Bureau, our uncle, who was the cousin of Gilbert Thibault, did not hesitate for a moment to become an active member. It is in this context that together they fell in Paris in a mousetrap of the Gestapo in February 1944. André was arrested when Gilbert managed to escape in extremis and wounded. Our uncle never returned from the camps. He was 23 years old. Your tribute today to Gilbert Thibault honours his memory and his family. If he was able to carry out his actions, it is certainly also thanks to the participation of the inhabitants of Auneuil, at the risk of their lives. As we celebrate the 77th anniversary of Victory in 1945 today, we are both proud and touched by the tribute you pay him as a hero of the Resistance. This memorial built in his memory will remain the symbol of Liberty regained, fragile (international events remind us of this) and through our cousin, will commemorate the courage and audacity of these heroes..."

     Also participating in this tribute was Miss Glenda Gray, granddaughter of an American bomber pilot who was rescued by Gilbert Thibault and other members of the Alsace network during his escape in March 1944. Then entrusted to the Comet escape network, 2nd Lt. Glenn E. Camp, her grandfather, had the misfortune to be captured two months later by the Germans on a train near the Spanish border while he was about to cross the Pyrenees.

Glenda

     "...Young men, many of them little more than children, found themselves in the midst of a war, thousands of miles from home, in a country whose language they did not speak, with a very uncertain future. In France, doctors and nurses risked their own lives and those of their loved ones to help others. It is thanks to the immeasurable strength and courage of people like Mrs. Odette Sauvage, Mr. Gaston Legrand, Mrs. Geneviève Le Berre and Mr. Gilbert Thibault that we are here for this tribute today. These stories of sacrifice, kindness and extreme bravery in the face of certain death touched me deeply and changed my life forever. I am so grateful to the French people and to these brave families who gave so much of themselves to do what is right and what is humane in the face of such horrible atrocities..."

     Mr. Hans Dekkers, mayor of Auneuil, then took the floor and evoked how the idea of honouring the memory of Gilbert Thibault in his commune was born after having discovered his medal in a desk in the townhall. "This story did not let me indifferent" he confided. Until today, few inhabitants knew the true history of this great resistance fighter. It is true that during the Second World War discretion prevailed and was a matter of life or death. Through the tribute paid on 8 May, Mr. Dekkers and his entire municipal council fulfilled the promise that had been made to Gilbert Thibault’s family. From now on, the name of Gilbert Thibault engraved on the memorial will help to perpetuate his memory with the younger generation.

maire
Mr. Hans Dekkers
 

      Senator Olivier Paccaud concluded this official ceremony with a speech always appreciated, of which he has the secret.

OPaccaud

Mr. Olivier Paccaud, senator of Oise

famillestele

Gilbert Thibault's family with Glenda Gray near the memorial.

     This splendid and very moving day ended in a friendly atmosphere at the town hall with the traditional cocktail reception offered by the municipality.

 

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