Today, we share with you the testimony of Maxime Bouché, Boutique Manager of the Juno Beach Centre.
💬 “Growing up in the Ardennes region, my family history has often brought me to the Second World War.
On my father’s side, my great-grandparents owned a farm near Haybes. During the occupation, everything the farm produced was supposed to be given to the Germans, but my great-grandparents did not play along. They managed to sneak many food products (eggs, meat, vegetables, butter, milk) to French and Belgian families, using a resistance network that operated through the deep Ardennes forest. They had to be very careful as Germans and « collabos” (as my grandfather called them) were everywhere. My grandfather and his dad used to have long outings in the forest saying they were out to get firewood but would actually hide food under piles of straw! I really enjoy listening to my grandfather talk about that time in his life, it always fills me with a sense of pride and a need to tell him, to tell them all, thank you. This also quickly instilled in me a need to remember, to not forget but mostly to find the right lessons to build a better future. For many years, both my grandparents were involved in local veteran’s associations, and my grandfather always said, “You know Maxime, war really isn’t pretty”. It was his way of passing his message to my brothers and I when we were little.
On my mother’s side, my grandfather also did not sit idly by. He quickly joined a resistance networked in Revin, where he fought throughout the war to spread food and weapons in the area, as well as organize sabotage missions. He went through some very hard times in the woods with his companions, especially on June 13, 1944 when a part of his crew was captured in the forest and killed on the spot. He watched his friends dig their own graves before being executed by the Germans. After the war, he would often bring my mother there to tell her the story, and she did the same with my brothers and I. We often all go back to that spot to remember our grandfather and his friends, who did everything for our freedom.
The way my family has lived through this conflict, this history and heritage, and the pride 5of my family, of the Ardennes, of France) are all elements that drive me every day to want to continue to remember along with Canada, who’s soldier stormed the beaches on June 6th 1944. We must remember. We must remember and learn the right lessons to create a peaceful future. It is this duty to remember that motivates me in my position of Boutique Manager at the Juno Beach Centre. ”
Dispatches from Juno shares all the news, events, and stories from the Juno Beach Centre in France and Canada. Interested in contributing a story to the blog? Email the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.