De Lourds Souvenirs (Heavy Memories) beat off stiff competition from 40 other national and international entrants to triumph at the Imperial War Museum’s 11th Film Festival in London on 21st March.
The film received critical acclaim as a compelling and beautifully filmed war related documentary and won the coveted Annie Dodds Award for Best Documentary. It was directed by Genevieve Monneris and her son Thomas Lesgoirres with the English version co-produced with the Yorkshire Air Museum, and follows other poignant films to have been produced by them. It is shown in the Museum’s recently refurbished Astra Digital Theatre and was shown at the University of York St John during “The French in York” week which included the inauguration of the French Air Force Memorial in York Minster.
De Lourds Souvenirs (Heavy Memorial) refers to the Heavy bomber Squadrons of the French Air Force which were exclusively stationed at RAF Elvington during World War Two. It follows the true story of the ill-fated Halifax bomber “L for Love” on Christmas Eve 1944 and is told by the only two survivors, one of which is Col Andre Guedez (91) – father of Genevieve Monneris.
A compelling and emotional film where the young French airmen were preparing to have Christmas Eve with their girlfriends in York and were suddenly thrust into the horrors of war when the German Army thrust through the Allied lines in what was later to become known as the “Battle of the Bulge”. Over half of the French volunteer aircrew were killed in action during the months stationed at Elvington.
The film portrays the very real story of Halifax bomber ‘L for Love’ of 347 Tunisie Squadron, which was shot down over the Ruhr on the night of Christmas Eve, 1944, in a special mission during the Battle of the Bulge. 5 crew members lost their lives in the resulting crash, sparing only two.
One of these survivers was Col. Andre Guedez, who is now 92 and the father of Genevieve Monneris, who miraculously escaped by being pushed unconscious from the striken aircraft, coming round in the nick of time to deploy his parachute.
The film premiered in York during the “French in York” week (17-23rd October 2011), prior to the inauguration of the unique first French War Memorial to be placed in an English Catherdral on 20th October at York Minster.
The award was presented by Francine Stock, from BBC Television and Radio, and Diane Lees, Director General of the Imperial War Museum.
Ian Reed, Museum Director, commented: “This is such a coveted and specialist award from a renowned organisation. We were confident with our entry, and thrilled for it to be shortlisted, so we are indeed over the moon to be the winner in this national Competition.”