In our first video, we visit the north of Luxembourg with HMA John Marshall.
Wartime scars still dent the landscape, where many young pilots perished, their short lives ending in these fields and forests.
When the Germans invaded Luxembourg in May 1940, Grand Duchess Charlotte and some of Luxembourg’s Government escaped to London. There, in exile, the Government joined the Allies.
The link back to Luxembourg was via BBC broadcasts, starting with Grand Duchess Charlotte on 5 September 1940. These broadcasts became more frequent until daily from October 1943 from the Grand Duchess, Prince Jean and members of the government-in-exile, fostering hope and reassurance.
RAF Airmen shot down
Our first journey with Ambassador Marshall took us to the North of Luxembourg: Boxhorn and Weiswampach. Here, and in nearby locations, evidence of World War II is palpable. With cemeteries, crash sites and monuments, the lives of young RAF airmen plus other comrades are honored as they died defending Europe from Nazi Germany.
Six pilots, from four separate aircraft, died on the actual day Nazi forces occupied Luxembourg, 10 May 1940, in their attempt to stall the German advance.
Nestled in a beautiful forest in Boxhorn, not so easy to find, remains the wreckage of one plane, a Lockheed Hudson. Just next to it, the graves of six of its seven pilots: three RAF crew (two British, one New Zealander) and three secret service agents from Belgium, shot down on 21 March 1945.
Not too far away near Weiswampech, another site marks the spot where the same German bomber shot down two Lancaster planes on the same night, refueling in between; thirteen out of fourteen pilots were killed, six of these were from New Zealand, two from Canada.
With so many planes being shot down, there was a shortage of pilots in the UK, and so the RAF supplemented with pilots from other Commonwealth countries. Poignantly, when these young men died their families could not usually visit their graves, due to the cost and difficulty of travel at that time.
And so the upkeep, remembrance ceremonies and respect for these sites by the local communes, associations such as Cercle d’Etudes pour la Bataille des Ardennes, RAF records and other archives is even more important. This allows family to finally locate their lost relatives.
It also allows us to think about what they young men gave for our lives as we know it today.
Origin of #LuxUKLinks
In his role as an Ambassador, John Marshall dives into the history of whatever country he resides. This, coupled with his love of running, resulted in #LuxUKLinks.
What started out as a patchwork of connections between Luxembourg and the UK, firstly tweeted by Ambassador Marshall, continues to grow, as more connections and stories amass. These findings have been captured in a mobile exhibition, a book, a written series on RTL Today, and now by video.
Cercle d’Etudes pour la Bataille des Ardennes (ceba.lu)