National Memorial Arboretum From 1100hrs 02 April 2016.
ELMS has been working with the Allied Special Forces Association to place two further memorials in the Allied Special Forces Grove at the National Memorial Arboretum. On the 02 April 2016 two ceremonies will take place in the Grove.
Firstly a plaque is being dedicated to Gabriel Petite, a young Belgian lady who assisted escapers and also worked for the British SIS. Petit was born on 20 February 1893 in Tournai to working-class parents. She was raised in a Catholic boarding school in Brugelette following her mother’s early death. At the outbreak of the First World War, she was living in Brussels as a saleswoman. She immediately volunteered to serve with the Belgian Red Cross.
Petit’s espionage activities began in 1914, when she helped her wounded soldier fiancé, Maurice Gobert, cross the border to the Netherlands to reunite with his regiment. She passed along to British Intelligence information about the Imperial German army acquired during the trip. The British soon hired her, gave her brief training, and sent her to spy on the enemy. She proceeded to collect information about enemy troop movements using a number of false identities. She was also an active distributor of the clandestine newspaper La Libre Belgique and assisted the underground mail service “Mot du Soldat”. She helped several more young men across the Dutch border
Petit was betrayed by a German who represented himself as Dutch. She was arrested by the German military in February 1916. She was imprisoned at the Prison de St. Gilles (a suburb of Brussels), tried, and convicted for espionage, with the death sentence imposed on the following 1 March. During her trial, Petit refused to reveal the identities of her fellow agents, despite offers of amnesty. Among such agents, Germaine Gabrielle Anna Scaron, 23 years of age, daughter of a local magistrate, and a close friend of Mlle Petit, was arrested with her on similar charges, imprisoned but spared and, despite the opposition of German military, released later for lack of sufficient evidence, which Petit could have divulged but heroically kept secret. On 1 April 1916, Gabrielle Petit was, at the insistence of German military, shot by a firing squad at the Tir National execution field in Schaerbeek. Her body was buried on the grounds there.
The plaque is part of a schools WW1 trail within the Arboretum which passes through the Grove.
UN Partisan Forces in Korea
The second ceremony is dedicated to the men who served in the UN Partisan Forces in North Korea, and to those who never returned. There is little in the way of historical reference to the UK’s participation in these clandestine operations, although there is some published material available about the US involvement. Many of these men were inserted into North Korea in darkness by parachute, small boats, and by foot, and had to return over the mountains on foot. They worked with Partisan and Resistance groups sabotaging, blowing bridges, railways and ambushing the enemy. Many were caught and received hostile interrogations. Many died as a result of the appalling conditions in which they were held.
Members wishing to attend should make their way to the Sun Room at the ASF Grove where a reception will will be open from 1100hrs. Members will move to the Gabriel Petite Memorial at 1200hrs and later to the UN Partisan Forces Memorial at 1300hrs. (Situated next to the ELMS Memorial). The events are open to all members of ELMS and the ASFA and there will also be a representative from the Embassy of South Korea
These events are open to anyone who wishes to attend, but we do need to inform the Arboretum staff of likely numbers. If you wish to come to either or both then please do let us know, either via our website or by contacting Roger Stanton.