World War I Veterans – Not Forgotten
“I started this collection as an hommage to those that lost their lives for France during the Great War – or World War I – including my great grandfather as well as the Americans and English – who came over here to help us keep our freedom,” explains Bruno Gotti. During dinner last night, Bruno took some time out to show us his World War II collection of items made by French soldiers in the trenches. This is the most incredible military memorabilia I’ve ever seen when you consider that these hand crafted items were made from what was available in the trenches. That would be the metal (pewter and copper) remaining from mortar shells and morter casings. There are dozens of cigarette lighters, good luck charms, crucifixes, framed pictures of girlfriends. Some of the lighters are intricately carved. The workmanship would be worth collecting just for the quality but understanding the working conditions of being stuck in a trench – sometimes under fire – makes the collection all the more incredible.
I asked Bruno what he thought about the film “Joyeux Noel” (see the review under movies). He thought the movie was fine, but being a World War I buff it seemed a little short considering that he’s spent 25 years putting together his ‘homage’.
If you come to Normandy, you soon realize that recognition for the Americans, Canadians, and UK soldiers who gave up their lives, is longstanding. Normans don’t forget.
If you are in Normandy on November 11, armistice day the commemoration of the end of World War I , you’ll see how this day is remembered.
If you want to see Bruno’s collection on display, it will be exhibited in Thiberville, Eure.