OF RRF ASSOCIATION ANNUAL MONDEMENT PILGRIMAGE COMMEMORATING
THE 98TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE 1ST BATTLE OF THE MARNE
It was my pleasure and privilege to again organise and lead
this year's event. being an important one in the regimental
Our coach left Balham early on Thursday 30th August
picking up at the Tower and along the way to Dover. A
midday ferry crossing saw us en route to Epernay arriving
Including wives and friends we totalled 32. With us
were a contingent of Grenadier Guards Association members,
one ex Middlesex Regiment and one ex Ox & Bucks Light
Epernay, the capital of the Champagne Region of France,
is truly delightful. The weather was excellent as usual.
Reasonably priced bars and restaurants abound.
On day 1 we travelled the short distance to La Ferte
sous Jouarre where, or nearby, our former comrades crossed
the Marne in 1914 at the outset of the battle which resulted
in the Germans being crushingly defeated. At La Ferte
is a large and impressive British War Memorial on which
are inscribed the names of 3700 names of the fallen of
the BEF at Mons, the retreat, Le Cateau, Marne and Aisne
who have no known grave. Wreaths were laid at a ceremony
organised by the town who are most friendly appreciating
as they still do, the sacrifice of Fusiliers all those
years ago. We were entertained to Vin d'honneur afterwards.
We dined together that evening back in Epernay.
Day 2 in the morning the coach took a group of us
to Reims for sightseeing and shopping etc. In the late
afternoon we went to Sezanne to honour the memory of our
fallen French allies alongside whom our former comrades
fought. A short ceremony followed by Vin D'honneur.
Day 3, Sunday, saw the main event at Mondement. Where
the monument to the battle is, it being the centre of
the start line. An impressive panoramic view of the width
and depth of the battlefield is gained from the site.
A short religious service followed by raising of flags,
playing of National Anthems etc with speeches from dignatories.
The Marne battle effectively saved France from early defeat
in the war and it cannot be overestimated how much they
genuinely appreciate the fact that our former comrades
fought alongside them to gain the victory. Despite being
invited, no other regiments attend.
This is very much a European affair these days with
Military Attaches from Paris attending. Great Britain
was represented by Colonel James Murray-Playfair RRF whom
we were all delighted to see together with his wife Pippa.
Then followed a terrific banquet lunch of high quality
where the wine flows. Before returning to Epernay we attended
a short ceremony to honour the German dead of the battle.
This gesture is much appreciated by the German representatives.
Day 4, Monday, we returned home. A supermarket shop
in Calais preceded us boarding a ferry that saw us back
in Balham early evening.
In summary this is a popular and extremely enjoyable
long weekend enjoyed in relaxed fashion by a friendly
group at reasonable cost. It is comradeship of the highest
Dates for 2013 are 5th to 9th September. For further
information and hopefully to express interest in coming
with us please contact Richard Adams on 01608 662328 or