On 17th March 1941 Francois Scornet (21) was taken from the Grand Hotel where he had been held by Jersey’s lovely Nazi visitors. He was loaded into a lorry together with a German firing squad, a French priest and a coffin. At St Ouen’s Manor he was tied to a tree and was executed shouting ‘Vive La France’. The full and definitive story is here.
This evening there was a moving ceremony attended by a fair smattering of the Island’s French nationals. The execution tree is gone but a tablet, over to the north of the Manor, marks the spot. We had cadets marching and prayers were said before a chilling rifle salute was fired and the Marseillaise rang out in the quiet summer evening.
Aux armes, citoyens
Formez vos bataillons
Among those present was Philip Malet de Carteret, the present Seigneur. His family have owned the Manor for the best part of 1,000 years unbroken. We chatted for a few minutes and he asked the rhetorical question of why they brought Scornet all the way to his grounds to shoot him. The best answer is that the Germans were afraid that to do so in the town area would invite trouble.
And speaking of heroes I was delighted to see Bob Le Sueur there, awarded his badly overdue MBE only this week. Chief among his many great works was the hiding of Russian prisoners during the Occupation; being caught at this malarkey meant almost certain death but that didn’t stop the likes of Bob. I was honoured to shake his hand by way of congratulations even though he doesn’t know me from a bar of soap.