The relationship between The Lee and the village of Fromelles in Northern France goes back over 100 years to July 1916, when men of The Lee fought alongside other allied troops in the battle of Fromelles.
The story of this battle and its significance to The Lee is summarised on this website (taken from Mike Senior’s book ‘No finer courage – a village in the Great War’).
Recognising this special history, in 2010 new friendships began to develop between residents of the two communities. Exchange visits were made between the two communities, led by John Ford, representing The Lee Parish Council, and Jean-Gabriel Masson, the Maire of Fromelles.
In 2013, with the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War approaching, the idea was discussed by ‘Les Amis de The Lee’ and by ‘The Friends of Fromelles’ (as they started to be called) of putting the relationship on a slightly more formal footing.
In July 2014 a Charter of Friendship was signed.
As Mayor and municipal councillors of Fromelles (France, Department de Nord) and as chairman and members of the Parish Council of The Lee (Buckinghamshire, England), we have agreed to sign this Charter of Friendship:
We wish to strengthen the links between our two villages, which began during the battle of Fromelles on July 19th, 1916 when nine men of The Lee died.
By this charter, Fromelles seeks to mark its gratitude to the soldiers who supported France.
By this charter, The Lee seeks to mark its attachment to Fromelles where many of their fellow villagers gave their lives.
The two villages have renewed their contact several years ago and now wish to share a common future, both for the purpose of commemoration and to forge links between the inhabitants of the two communities.
For that reason, the councils of Fromelles and The Lee are committed to:
- Organise trips between the two villages and to promote meetings between inhabitants.
- Invite each other to the most important events of each village.
- Inform inhabitants about the life of each village through newsletters and the internet sites of Fromelles and The Lee.
- Promote contact between our children (through exchange, writing and links between schools).
- Open this partnership to all inhabitants of our two villages and their neighbourhoods.
Vive l’entente Fromelloise!
Since the signing of the Charter, many events have been attended by the Friends/Amis in France and England including in 2016 the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the battle of Fromelles and in 2018 the 100th anniversary of Armistice day… as well as many visits to The Lee Flower Show and dance!
These regular exchanges are open to anyone willing to host families in the village as well as undertake trips to France. Accommodation is also provided by our hosts in Fromelles during our visits there. They always make us very welcome. Other costs are shared among the group, as we do not have any external funding, but these tend not to be excessive. It has proven an excellent way of making friends in France as well as learning about local history both in Fromelles and The Lee. The group would particularly like to develop interest from families with school age children, to extend the relationship across another generation.
Anyone interested in finding out more about The Association of the Friends of Fromelles should contact John Ford ( 01494 837726 firstname.lastname@example.org)