Ambassador Sylvie Bermann addresses the November 11 ceremony at Marshal Foch's statue near Victoria Station, London (Photo: Centenary News)

Armistice Day 2016: France remembers in the UK

Posted on on 12 November 2016
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The hundreds of thousands of troops who fell in months of fighting at Verdun and on the Somme in 1916 were remembered at this year's Armistice Day commemorations held by the French Embassy in the UK.

Ambassador Sylvie Bermann led two ceremonies during the day - at Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey, and later at the statue of Marshal Ferdinand Foch in Central London.

She said: "This is a year when we commemorate the Centenary of the two bloodiest battles of the Great War: the Battle of Verdun, which, over 10 long months of suffering, claimed hundreds of thousands of lives; and the Battle of the Somme, the first joint Franco-British offensive of the First World War, where more than 206,000 British and 66,000 French soldiers lost their lives.

"2016 is also a year when, in a specific European and international context, we’re keen to reaffirm the strength of Franco-British friendship and cooperation, particularly in the area of defence."

Councillor Steve Summers, Lord Mayor of Westminster, bows after laying his wreath (Photo: Centenary News)

Soldiers from the Scots Guards, British veterans of the Second World War and the Lord Mayor of Westminster, Steve Summers, joined French diplomatic, military and veterans' representatives for the ceremony at the foot of Marshal Foch's statue near Victoria Station.

Councillor Summers said: "As Supreme Commander of the Allied forces, Marshal Foch provided the vision and leadership which arguably saved thousands, if not tens of thousands of lives. He led the Allied armies to a hard fought victory in 1918. It is told that his loyalty and comradeship extended to all nationalities that he commanded."

Ferdinand Foch was put in charge of coordinating operations in March 1918 when the British and French Armies were in danger of being split apart by Germany's spring offensive.

On 11 November 1918, It was Marshal Foch who oversaw the signing of the Armistice by German representatives in his railway carriage at Compiègne.

After the Great War, he was made an honorary Field Marshal in the British Army.

Foch's monument near Victoria, designed for travellers from France to see on their arrival from the Channel ports in the era before air travel and the Channel Tunnel, was unveiled in 1930 by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII).

It bears the inscription: 'I am conscious of having served England as I served my own country'.

Also in Centenary News:

Marshal Foch statue & two other French memorials given listed conservation status in UK.

Source: French Embassy London

Images: Centenary News

Reporting by CN Editor Peter Alhadeff, who attended the ceremony at Marshal Foch's statue