The Liberation of Coutances, 28 July 1944

Several members of the Association attended this International Commemoration in Music on the 21 July in the cathedral at Coutances, which had survived the bombardments of June 1944 almost completely unscathed. This service and concert celebrated the Liberation of Coutances on 28 July 1944, acknowledged the sacrifice of all combatants of the Battle of Normandy and the civilian victims of the bombardment of Coutances and also celebrated the seventy-five years of ensuing peace and harmony between the peoples of Europe.

The service, which included bible readings, was led by le Père Jamelot, rector of the cathedral and Donna Derrick, minister of the Anglican church of La Manche. The concert music chosen included chamber pieces by Edward Elgar and Mendelssohn, arias by Purcell as well as pieces for organ by Jehan Alain and Kurt Weill played by Jean-François Detree. The musicians had been invited by Stewart Miller and included Shu-Wei Tseng, piano, Amélie Mabire, violincello, Anne Tupling, violin and Frances Hook, soprano. The service was concluded by the hauntingly beautiful adagio from the oboe concerto of Alessandro Marcello played by Julie Arnaud, standing in the organ loft.

After the service the portes-drapeaux and congregation proceeded to the memorial garden where the Mayor of Coutances, Monsieur Lamy, gave a speech, acknowledging the debt of gratitude that we all have to those who had made the ultimate sacrifice. Louise laid a wreath on behalf of the Anglophone Association and others paid simple, personal floral tributes some of which were handpicked flowers from individuals’ gardens.

Words: David Beech
Photos: courtesy of La Manche Libre