1946: Beginnings.....

While today's St. Nazaire Society continues to thrive well into a new century, its infinitely more humble origins can be traced all the way back to a bleak PoW camp during World War Two and to a small group of men who were determined never to forget the sacrifice made by so many of their friends.

On March 28th 1943, over a meal of sauerkraut and bully-beef, the principles were laid down to which we still adhere today: that those who were involved with the Raid on Saint-Nazaire should retain close ties and friendships; that they should endeavour always to provide help and assistance where needed; and that, in recognition of the support provided by the men and women of Saint-Nazaire in spite of their own suffering, they should establish and maintain close ties with the port they had once known only as a target.

In the present day the maintenance of ties through our annual Reunion Lunch and biannual Newsletter, are supplemented by means of electronic communication the veterans could never have dreamed of in the bleak post-war years: our commitment to assist where there is need, extends to long-term support of life-giving Water Aid wells in Ghana's Bolgatanga area: and in respect of promoting our invaluable cross-channel ties, our committee now includes a representative from Belgium, as well as two representatives from Saint-Nazaire itself.

'Officially' formed immediately after the war, the Society, with three hundred founding members, met as a body for its first reunion, on March 28th 1946, at Chez Auguste, in Soho. In those far off days the cost was a mere thirteen shillings (a whole 65p in today's money) and - ladies were not invited!

Back then, the Society consisted almost exclusively of the veterans themselves. Today it is their children, grand-children, extended family and friends and supporters worldwide, who continue to keep their memories alive both as a celebration of an achievement so many had claimed was impossible, and as a reminder of a debt that can never fully be repaid.

The very early days....Charles Newman, seated, centre

The War Cemetery, Escoublac/La Baule

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