Escape Lines Memorial Society – What’s New
- General Round-up
- ELMS Commemorative Journal
- New Books
- Escapers, Evaders and Helpers Personal Stories
- A Walk in The Pyrenees
- The Crows Flight Trail 2017
- Commemoration of F Section SOE
- Love and War in the Pyrenees by Rosemary Bailey
What Does ELMS Stand For
What does ELMS stand for? After only a short acquaintance with the Society, Marina, an 18 year old Italian student, and two generations away from WW2, grasped it well in an article she wrote following her attendance at last year’s Annual Reunion in York. These are a few extracts from her longer article (reproduced in full here):
‘Pass important values to the next generation’
‘Raise awareness of still topical social issues like people’s rights and tolerance’
‘Human beings will learn from their mistakes, learn how to communicate with one another and understand the value of life’
‘Everybody matters. It is not right to make people expendable to the greater needs of the State, because the State doesn’t come first. Humankind does’
‘Someone would come have to come home after all, to spread the knowledge and the values that we picked up on’
‘Provided us with an insight that cast a new light on those past events’
The ELMS motto “I help the old to remember and the young to understand” (quoted by former ELMS member the late Gervaise Cowell MBE) is so apt. In addition to remembering and commemorating the past it is also our responsibility to provoke thought and awareness of how the lives of people from previous generations can have relevance today;’ to learn from their selfless example and pass on this message to future generations. we are fortunate that ELMS is developing links with the younger generation – the future is dependent upon learning from history. To that end the Resource packs which ELMS distributes free to schools emphasise that information about the escape lines is not only relevant to the history curriculum, but also across the broader sphere of humanities.
I have long wondered why, with our initial membership comprising so many escapers, evaders and helpers, many of whom are sadly no longer with us, that there has been minimal interest and support for the Society from their families! They are the succeeding generations who owe their very existence to the survival of their forebears thanks to the many acts of co-operation, compassion and humanity. Perhaps we all need to reflect upon the wider role that we, too, can play, both to preserve history and to promote the tenets and principles practised and upheld in times of duress. (With thanks to Jackie Stanton)
Special Purpose Groups
Do you have skills? Do you have some time that you could offer? Could you volunteer your services to one of the Special Project Groups that ELMS is developing?
Maybe you have expertise in Business, Law, Fundraising, Languages or Education. Perhaps , for example, you could give a talk on the escape lines to a local group and become a member of the ‘Speakers Panel’ (appropriate material is supplied); or share your research with the Research Group or on the website Forum in answer to queries that appear there; or join a commemorative trail as a walker, supporter or part of a back-up team; or assist with a particular role during the organisation of a specific event? Even just placing a poster in a nearby library, or inviting a local school to sample the free Education Resource Pack help to promote both the escape lines history and the Society. Maybe you have contacts who could help us? Your commitment does not have to be onerous; just make the Trustees aware that you have the expertise/interest and are prepared to be called upon or consulted from time-to-time to support specific projects. We already have members who give talks; those who contribute book reviews; others who represent ELMS at events/wreath laying etc; and those who attend events then send a write-up and photos. Country based reps keep us in touch with events in their areas and represent the Society at some of those events. There is no compulsion; we are all volunteers but we do need more to ensure that we build a long term future for this Society
We welcome contact from anyone interested in the Society and its ‘raison d’etre’. However, we have recently been receiving a number of ‘spam’ emails, sent via our contact form. To avoid this we have added a small validation box to our form, which requires the sender to input a short series of letters/numbers in a box. We hope that this will not prove difficult for users.
We will shortly be updating our diary of events for 2017. If any of the events listed on our calendar are of interest to you then please do get in touch for more information. At present only the ELMS reunion weekend, 27- 30 April 2017 and the Tenna Valley Trail, 18 – 21 May are confirmed.
ELMS Annual Reunion
The annual reunion is drawing near and if you have not yet registered to attend then please do so as soon as possible, in particular if you will need accommodation in the hotel in York. Please also remember that ELMS members will need to show their membership cards to gain free entry to Eden Camp for the annual ceremony, and also to attend the AGM. If you cannot find yours then please contact us for a replacement!
Walks in The Pyrenees
Many of those who escaped to freedom did so by crossing the Pyrenees. There were a myriad of routes used, depending on the weather, security situation, local knowledge etc. Some of these are commemorated annually but these events may not be convenient for those wishing to retrace them. There are several companies who can offer guided walks, on a commercial basis. Details of these can be found on the page which contains Freedom Trails Information. Go to the Freedom Trails link on the main menu and scroll to the bottom of the page.
Love and War in the Pyrenees
Many of us have read Rosemary Bailey’s book which focused on the Spanish and Catalans who escaped to France after the Spanish Civil War; how learning about their experience is essential to understanding the Second World War in the southernmost corner of France, the Mediterranean Pyrenees on the border with Spain. Once the war in France began, the Spanish were among the first to establish escape routes across the Pyrenees, and they were a key part of the network of escape routes that developed, a vital contribution to the war effort.
We are pleased to say that Rosemary will be delivering a lecture at the Catalan Observatory at the LSE in London titled Spaniards and Catalans in France after 1939, from the camps to the Resistance. It will take place at 6pm on Thursday 2 March 2017. The event is open to all who may be interested. Directions for the Catalan Observatory which is in Houghton Street can be found here
The Crows Flight Trail 2017
We have received details of this year’s event, which will run from 6th – 10th September. For full details go to the events calendar and click on the link. From there you can access all the information and the necessary booking form.
Commemoration of F Section SOE
We have received a couple of enquiries about this event. We have listed it on our events calendar, although details are difficult to establish! Last year it took place at 10.00am but if we hear differently we will update our pages. A little more information about the memorial itself, which was designed by Elizabeth Harrison, a former ELMS member, is available here
2016 Bidasoa/Basque Freedom Trail Report
We have now uploaded a report about this year’s Bidasoa/Basque Freedom Trail event, which can be accessed either via the photo in the scrolling banner at the top of the page or via this link. We will publish dates etc for next year’s event as soon as they become available.
Escape Lines Material for Schools.
We have a section specifically for schools (under Young ELMS) and will be continuing to develop that section this year and we have produced a school’s pack (created by teachers) which is free of charge. Just contact us for your copy.
We are always looking for accounts of escapers/evaders and helpers. If a member of your family has a story to relate then do let us know, and we will publish it here. It does help if you have a photo, at least of the individual concerned so if you think you have an item that may be of interest then please do contact us using the contact form available on the main menu.
We have received recently several enquiries from individuals seeking information about either WW2 contacts that involved their relatives, or decorations and awards that their relatives might have received. Although we do hold a significant quantity of archive material there are often occasions when we can provide little in the way of help. We do have a Forum, where visitors can post queries which can broadcast their question to a much wider audience. To post on the forum you do need to register, but this is free and does not require any further commitment. The forum is available through the link on the main menu bar at the top of this page. We look forward to having you join us.
Escape Lines Photograph Album
The is a considerable collection of photos covering many of the events and occasions attended by ELMS members. Please click on this ELMS link
A Commemorative Journal
Dear ELMS member, WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Did you attend any of the Escape Line Reunions at Eden Camp and/or the Talbot Hotel in Malton, in the early days of the Society, but in particular between 1989 and 1995, or do you know someone who did? The Director is putting together a pictorial record to celebrate the twenty fifth anniversary of our reunion at the Eden Camp Museum, 1990 -2015. The volume will be A4 size, printed on high quality paper and filled largely with photos.
We would be grateful for ANY photos which record events covering that 25 year period, but in particular we are looking for photos of reunions during the early years. The majority of our members in those early years were Army Escapers, together with some from SOE and also MGB crews of the 15th Flotilla (Shelburn Line) and helpers. A number of RAFES airmen also attended.
If you are willing to lend us the photo’s for copying they will be returned to you as soon as possible. Alternatively if you have electronic copies please email these to firstname.lastname@example.org or to email@example.com
Please include a note explaining who is in the photo, and also include your own name and address so that original photos can be returned to you. We are happy to receive photos in black and white or colour and in any condition. Although we will use as many pictures as possible we cannot guarantee that they will all be used but we will try our best.
Thank you for your help in this matter.
Our latest selection of books includes a story of a mass escape in Slovenia, an extraordinary tale of one man’s war, a history of the many brave women who were trained by SOE, SIS and the American OSS and who fought in Europe and an amazing compendium of those who fought and died while serving in the SAS from 1941 until 1947. The book reviews are now collated by year, so if you are interested go to the Research link at the top of the page, and then click on the relevant year.
As a registered charity we are entirely dependant on the generosity of our members and others whose contributions enable us to fulfill our objectives. As the number of veterans we support slowly dwindles we are re-focusing our work on educating present and future generations about our particular part of this nation’s military history. We produce school packs which comply with the requirements of school curriculae, and we support students from countries where civilians provided help and assistance to escapers/evaders by bringing them to the UK to attend events. We also promote our trails, events where we can retrace the footsteps taken by our fathers and grandfathers, during which local historians deliver informal talks or more formal lectures about events in their particular area. To enable us to continue to do this we would be grateful for any support you might wish to give us. We have set up a donation link with BT MyDonate, which operates on a not for profit basis. If you would like to donate to our charity please go to Donate to ELMS, or if you would like to fund raise for us by participating in or staging an event then please contact us via our website.
Escapers, Evaders and Helpers Personal Stories
Stories of individuals that appear as part of our photo slider at the top of the page are usually removed after a while to make space for new material. If you are interested in any of the stories of these individuals then please go the the Escapers and Evaders menu item where you will find stories previously published.