The Mayor of Derby, Cllr John Whitby has delivered a speech in French via social media to address the village of Foncquevillers to mark the 101-year anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme.
Large parts of Foncquevillers, in northern France, were largely destroyed as a result of hostilities during the First World War, and is a focal point of commemorations to mark the conflict on both sides of the Somme river.
Many soldiers from the 46th (North Midland) Division are buried in Foncquevillers Military Cemetery. A friendship has existed between the village and Derby since the end of the war after efforts were made among the people of Derby to help raise funds to rebuild Foncquevillers.
A plaque on the Hotel de Ville in Foncquevillers refers to “Derby, notre marraine”, or “Derby, our Godmother”.
Councillor John Whitby, Mayor of Derby, was keen to show the city continues to value its link with Foncquevillers. He said:
One of my predecessors, Councillor Raynes, first visited Foncquevillers in 1921, and the friendship has existed ever since. It is a great honour that Derby continues to be remembered in Foncquevillers for the efforts that were made almost a century ago, and it is something worth celebrating.
The beauty of social media means it is now easier for us to communicate with friends near and far, and we hope that my address to the Mayor and people of Foncquevillers will be well received.”