Sunday, December 20, 2015

French Resistance Exhibition in Cumbria

1. The British and French flags hang side-by-side
Honouring a WW2 agent, Sister Olga Baudot de Rouville
(A member of the ‘PAT’ escape and evasion network)
[Cumbria Archives, Whitehaven (Dec. 2015 / Jan. 2016)
2. Information board summarising the exhibition:
“A most remarkable woman”
(Mlle. Maud Olga Andrée Baudot de Rouville)
[The exhibition is based on her personal collection 
3. Mr and Mrs Tim Heslop at the exhibition opening
With a Red Cross uniform of Olga Baudot de Rouville.
Tim Heslop’s father was Dr John Heslop. M.C.   
[Dr Heslop worked with Olga in the P.O.W. hospital at Lille]
4. French Christmas card sent to Olga (21 December 1945)
[It was sent by her friend Paula from Mouvaux, Nord
5. A personal business card and a 1946 New Year Card
[Part of the personal collection of Olga Baudot de Rouville]
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 For additional information click on ‘Comments’ below.

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3 Comments:

Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

Introduction: an exhibition about WW2

At the Cumbria Archives and Local Studies Centre at Whitehaven during December 2015 and January 2016 the Union flag, the national flag of the United Kingdom and the French ‘tricolore’ hang side by side at the entrance to a special exhibition about the wartime French Resistance [Photograph No. 1]. The exhibition, entitled “A most remarkable woman” honours the life and work, especially during WW2, of Sister Maud Olga Andrée Baudot de Rouville [Photograph No. 2]. During the war she was a Red Cross nurse in Occupied France and an agent for M.I.9 especially as a member of the ‘PAT’ escape and evasion network. Her wartime code name was ‘Thérèse Martin’

The official opening of the exhibition was by Mr Tim Heslop, who donated the collection to the Cumbria County Archives in the late 1980s. Mr Heslop, who is seen with his wife in photograph No. 3 shortly after the opening of the exhibition. His father, Dr John Heslop, M.C., worked with Sister Olga Baudot de Rouville at a British prisoner of war hospital at Lille in 1940. After the war, Sister Baudot de Rouville lived with the Heslop family for a time at their home near Cockermouth, Cumberland and when she left Cockermouth in 1947 she left behind many personal documents and possessions which are now in the Cumbria Archives.

This is a collection that includes many personal items. For example, there is a Christmas card sent to Olga in December 1945 by ‘Paula’, a friend from Mouvaux in northern France [Photograph No. 4]. Also in the collection is one of Olga’s business cards and a simple New Year Card for 1946 from the Flèche-Bernard family from Fives, a suburb of Lille, also in northern France [Photograph No. 5].

Among those who attended the official opening of the exhibition were the family of the late Flight Sergeant Joseph Henry (‘Harry’) McWilliams (1921 – 2014), of 617 Squadron. Flight Sergeant Harry McWilliams, who by coincidence was a Cumbrian and a native of Whitehaven, who after being shot down over Occupied France, was one of the R.A.F. evaders to be helped by Sister Baudot de Rouville, who he knew as ‘Mme. Thérèse’.

After successfully making it back to Britain, Flight Sergeant Harry McWilliams rejoined 617 Squadron, nicknamed the “Dambusters”, and continued to the end of the war. He took part in the mission which disabled and then sunk the German battleship ‘Tirpitz’. After leaving the R.A.F. at the end of the war, Harry McWilliams completed his teacher training and became a history teacher in his home town of Whitehaven.
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Sunday, 20 December, 2015  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Recipient of three wartime medals:
The ‘Croix de Guerre with Bronze Star,
The Resistance Medal (Médaille de la Résistance)
The King’s Medal for Courage in the Cause of Freedom

Having spent most of WW2 as a member of the French Resistance, early in 1947 Sister Olga Baudot de Rouville’s wartime service was recognised by the French Government. She was awarded the ‘Croix de Guerre’ with Bronze Star and below is a translation of the citation by General Order No. 17 by the Minister of National Defence (given under her first name, Maud):

“BAUDOT DE ROUVILLE, Maud (F.F.C.)

“An ardent patriot, who from September 1940 laid the foundations for a group of Allied military escapees from the Lille region. Contracted to the "Pat" Network, she provided the means of escape for around thirty British soldiers.

Sought by the Gestapo, she was ordered to go to the Southern Zone where she served as a courier and as a liaison officer.

She was a fine example as a French woman in the Resistance opposing the invader.

THIS CITATION INCLUDES THE AWARD OF THE CROIX DE GUERRE WITH BRONZE STAR.

Given at PARIS, on 25 January 1947.
For, and on the Order of, the Minister of National Defence.”

The French Government also awarded her the Resistance Medal (Médaille de la Résistance). The British Government awarded her ‘The King's Medal for Courage in the Cause of Freedom’. However, these medals are not in the collection.
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Sunday, 20 December, 2015  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Summary: media coverage

The exhibition of “A most remarkable woman” was featured in regional news articles by newspapers, radio and television.

Click on the following link to read a summary of the BBC news article (which, incidentally, gives the wrong first name of the ‘French-speaking volunteer archivist’ who is quoted in the article!):
BBC News article

Click on the following link to read a summary of the ITV Border news article about the exhibition:
ITV Border news article
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Acknowledgements

Cumbria County Libraries and Archives Centres,
Whitehaven Archives and Local Studies Centre,
Scotch Street,
WHITEHAVEN,
Cumbria, U.K. CA28 7NL
………….
The French Ministry of Defence, Paris
(Heritage and Archives Centre)
………….
Mr and Mrs Tim Heslop
…………..
The family of Flight Sergeant Harry McWilliams, 617 Squadron
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Sunday, 20 December, 2015  

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