On the 6th May every year since its unveiling in 1991, a ceremony takes place in the town of Valencay in the department of Indre in France. The ceremony is held at a memorial which commemorates all those members of F Section, SOE who lost their lives while working to liberate Europe from the Nazis. A total of 104 names are inscribed on the memorial, many of which will be known only to their families or those with a particular interest in SOE and its operations during WW2.
The monument itself was designed under the title ‘Spirit of Partnership‘ by Elizabeth Lucas Harrison, an ELMS member and also a lady with a record of bravery and endurance during WW2. Elizabeth was resident in London and the designer of other works on similar themes, notably the Royal Air Forces Escaping Society memorial in the crypt of St Clement Danes Church in London. The memorial at Valencay symbolises the partnership between S.O.E. and the Resistance in the form of two columns – the black representing the night and the essential secrecy of resistance operations, the white the shining spirit which ultimately triumphed. The two columns are linked by the moon, which brought together S.O.E. and the Resistance in all forms of clandestine operations, but especially the landing or parachuting of agents and stores. Three floodlights at the base of the monument recall the L-shaped flare-path laid out by ‘reception committees’ to enable Lysander and Hudson aircraft of 161 Squadron, Royal Air Force to touch down by night on improvised landing strips.
More information, including the names of all those remembered on the memorial can be found here