Marcel, Denise, and Pierre Lagrange, Ferme de la Colline,
Saint-Céré, Dordogne Valley, Southern France.
‘Denise continued, “At the end of April, we received The Letter from the French Navy, telling us of the wounding of our son, Pierre Lagrange, ‘who had bravely been doing his duty when the battleship, Bouvet, sunk because of enemy warfare'.”
‘Marcel said, "That letter was the catalyst for a change in behaviour in Denise. She began to go through life as if in a dream, unable to fulfil the physical and mental needs of living. She completed chores automatically while focusing her mind on the beauty of her boy, the talents of her boy, and her love for her boy.
‘He was perfect,’ Denise said, 'and should not have been sent to war. His mind was razor-sharp in a blunt world. A fairer system would have singled him out as unsuitable for warfare and put him somewhere that used his intellect, his music, or his poetry.’
Zion Mule Corps, Jewish.
Synagogue, Near Chatby Jewish Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, Alexandria, Egypt.
‘That evening when everyone else had left to concern themselves with current and future war problems, the Jewish community held their own service for immediate family and friends. The small synagogue they gathered in was crowded, and the candlelight cast shadows of shawls, scarves, yarmulkas, and dark coats. Their sparkling tears glinted like diamonds on their old, used faces. This was not to be the last time they would all be together, in this cause, bonded by their grief. They lived a precarious existence. They were old and tired, worn down by loss and tragedy, but they recognised the uniqueness of this event.
‘There was no music played since it could have led to exaltation, which would not be fitting. Or it could have driven spirits deeper-also not appropriate. Instead, there were prayers made and speeches given about the Zion Mule Corps' bravery, fortitude, and uniqueness. And after so long, too!
‘They talked about mutual support and understanding within the community and the need to ensure that all the facts would be recorded for all of time.
‘Gratitude was willingly and mutually offered to the soldiers’ families, both for their service and in recognition of their grievous loss. Then, the Rabbi made a final prayer to keep this community together and hopefully expand its strength and number. He introduced one thought that had evaded the families in their grief. It was that many of those Zion Muleteers who had died, had been all alone in the world.
‘They had no family left to grieve for them. They had had no chance to marry or have children and bring up a family. The only solace in their lives had been their religion, their culture, and their history. It is imperative that each of the unique fingerprints of their individual struggles in life, in this world, must never be forgotten in our prayers’, he exhorted.