A fascinating new documentary by Genevieve Monneris and her son Thomas Lesgoirres with the Yorkshire Air Museum is about to be released later this year. “Henri & Pat” follows the unique and true story of a St Helen’s, Liverpool born girl who works for the Censorship Department at the Post Office based in York. She meets and falls in love with Henri Martin, a mid-upper gunner with 346 “Guyenne” Squadron RAF based at Elvington. The twist in the tale is that Pat is fluent in French (her mother is French) and she is approached to undertake covert missions into Normandy as a courier for the government. She marries Henri but is soon working directly for Winston Churchill and being parachuted into France whilst her husband (who had no idea of his girlfriend’s work) is undertaking missions into the Ruhr – “the most dangerous place on earth”. On her first mssion, Pat’s parachute snags in a tree near a farm in France and she hangs there for several hours until her contact cuts her down, only to be told that the Wehrmacht has moved into the farm the previous day. For several weeks she acts as the farmers cousin from Paris until the German soldiers leave and she can deliver her messages to the Resistance. She marries Henri and shortly after the wedding Henri is killed in tragic circumstances during the famous Bochum Raid in November 1944, where 32 RAF bombers were lost, 5 from Henri’s squadron alone. She learns about his loss due to his aircraft not flying directly over her flat in York as was their special custom each night of a raid. Devastated at the news Pat learns that she is pregnant and she is transferred to London where she works with Churchill in the Cabinet War Rooms. She translates for Churchill and De Gaulle who eventually requests that she works for him, which Churchill eventually permits. At the unveiling of the statue to De Gaulle after the war, Pat and her little son, Paul, stand next to the French President during the ceremony. This is an extrememly moving story with original footage and interviews with Pat (now in her 90’s). It sets the scene of the tragedies and huge sacrifices made by thousands of individuals who were very clear about what they had to do to preserve freedom. Another excellent documentary from Gochoa Productions which will be shown every day in the Museum’s theatre each day from Summer.
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