Fallen WWII Seychellois hero remembered with French merit award

General |Author: Rita Joubert-Lawen Edited by: Betymie Bonnelame | June 6, 2024, Thursday @ 17:00| 2860 views

Brigitte Haworth received the merit award for Clement Marc Jumeau from French ambassador to Seychelles Olivia Berkeley-Christmann in a ceremony held at the cenotaph at the Mont Fleuri cemetery. (Seychelles Nation)

The bravery of a fallen Seychellois soldier of the British forces during World War II, Captain Clement Marc Jumeau, was rewarded on Thursday as part of activities to mark D-Day remembrance celebrations in Seychelles.

D-Day, which is celebrated annually on June 6, marks the day Allied forces landed on five beaches in Normandy, France in 1944 fight German forces.The beaches code named Utah and Omaha were taken by American forces. While the other code-named beaches Juno, Sword and Gold were taken by troops from Britain, Canada, and France among others.

The French and United States embassies and the British High Commission in Seychelles joined forces to celebrate Jumeau. According to the French Ambassador to Seychelles, Olivia Berkeley-Christmann, the event is to correct an error in history.

The deceased soldier's relatives, Daphne Jumeau and Brigitte Haworth, received his merit award at a ceremony held at the cenotaph at the Mont Fleuri cemetery.

The deceased soldiers' relatives, Daphne Jumeau and Brigitte Haworth. (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY 

This is the first time since the event took place that Seychelles has celebrated its citizens who had directly contributed to the Normandy landing.

Jumeau, who was in the United Kingdom at the time to pursue his law studies at the University of Cambridge,  responded to an advert in the newspaper looking to recruit people with language skills.

Speaking to the press after the ceremony attended by dignitaries and other war veterans, Haworth said that her great uncle applied since "he spoke French very well and had an accent that could not be traced to any of the French regions."

Haworth said, "He went through intensive training to become a resistance fighter to find messages that he would later pass on to the French resistance."

Jumeau later went to the French mainland twice, where he was captured the first time and managed to escape in quite ingenious ways using a hard piece of bread to carve a key, he managed to open the door and escape with quite a lot of his fellow crew," recounted Haworth.

Jumeau escaped through Spain and went to the UK where he immediately joined again despite recommendations that he stay behind.

The French and United States embassies and the British High Commission in Seychelles joined forces to celebrate Jumeau. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY 

His second time in France, he was parachuted in and met the "Americans, French resistance fighters - passing on valuable information."

It was after disregarding warnings not to go to the safe house, that Jumeau was caught by German soldiers the second time and passed away while in prison.

It is documented that the Seychellois soldiers who joined the British Forces were mainly involved in operations in North Africa and the landing in Sicily, Italy.

It was on January 16, 1946, that General Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle granted Jumeau a mention in the Army Order (Croix de Guerre avec Palme).

His bravery and initiative during his 10 months imprisonment in Marseille that de Gaul awarded Jumeau.

Haworth said, "However, due to some administrative faults, the fallen soldier never received his award and this is something I am correcting today as the French representative in Seychelles."

Meanwhile, Jumeau's family is now trying to find his final resting grounds - which they suspect is in Berlin, Germany, and she said "The Red Cross is working with us, so that we may actually find out his final resting ground."

Tags: D-Day remembrance, British High Commission, University of Cambridge


» Related Articles: