Territory and memory
Territory and memory
compréhension de l'écrit et expression écrite
Intérêt du sujet • Le 11 novembre, en Europe, dans le Commonwealth et aux États-Unis, on commémore les sacrifices de la Première Guerre mondiale. S'agit-il d'une simple tradition ou d'un devoir de mémoire indispensable ?
Document“I felt humbled by their sacrifice”
The descendant of a Somme dispatch rider has spoken of his ‘humility'and emotion after completing a commemorative motorbike ride across the battlefield.
As reported, David Holdway-Davis, 20, joined motorbikers from as far afield as England, Australia, France and New Zealand at the Communal Cemetery in Abbeville at the start of a special journey in honour of the bravery of his great-great uncle, Corporal Oswald Davis.
Building apprentice David flew from Brisbane, Australia, to take part in the special trip. He said: “I can only imagine the hardship and suffering Oswald endured. On that first morning at Abbeville, as I stood in the shadow of the tall trees and immaculate gravestones of the men who died in such terrible circumstances near this quiet, atmospheric and impeccably maintained cemetery, I felt humbled by their sacrifice. It was the most moving experience of my life.”
The group, including David's father Philip, traced the route Oswald followed exactly 100 years ago, during the Battle of the Somme.
The memorial riders began their journey near Oswald's first army muster site where, his training complete, he started his riding duties. Their next stop was Amiens, then Senlis-Le-Sec, and on to Thiepval, where Philip laid a wreath at the memorial.
In a speech at the memorial, Philip said: “This tribute is from the Royal British Legion and Oswald's family for all the dispatch riders of World War One. We remember these brave men with thanks and pride.”
On July 23, the bikers reached Ypres, in time to attend the 8pm Remembrance Service at the Menin Gate.
Oswald survived the battle that claimed 1.3 million casualties and went on to ride his bike through Belgium and Germany until he was demobbed. He returned to work in the family business in Birmingham and died in 1962.
He was a talented writer, and left an archive of work, including his war diary, newspaper articles and two novels. A copy of his diary is available to download from triumphonthewesternfront.com.
In homage to Oswald, enthusiastic biker David borrowed a modern Triumph for the bike journey. He said: “It's a lot more powerful than Oswald's machine but, from reading his diary, I know that he was very fond of that wonderful old motorcycle and it didn't let him down. Besides carrying a basket containing 28 pigeons, he somehow managed to do all his own repairs, drive through mud-filled craters, dodging shrapnel and bombs, and deal with lice, hunger and constant fear. His sense of duty was awesome. My generation can learn a lot from men like him. France is a beautiful country, and I am so grateful that I am able to visit. Thanks, Uncle Oz!”
The Connexion, French news and views, 28 July 2016
Compréhension de l'écrit 10 points
Give an account of the text in English, focusing on the information we are given about David and Oswald, on David's special journey, its goal and meaning, and on the way David considers Oswald.
Expression écrite 10 points
Vous traiterez en anglais l'un des deux sujets suivants au choix. Répondez en 120 mots au moins.
Back to Australia, David is interviewed about his commemorative trip to France. Imagine the interview.
If you could take part in a commemorative ceremony of remembrance, which one would you like to attend and why?
Les clés du sujet
Compréhension de l'écrit
Comprendre le document
Préparer sa réponse
Présentez d'abord le document de façon globale dans l'introduction.
Organisez votre compte rendu en anglais en autant de parties que de points importants sur lesquels vous devez porter votre attention :
les personnages principaux : d'abord David puis Oswald ;
le voyage qu'a entrepris David pour rendre hommage à son arrière-grand-oncle ;
le rapport que David entretient avec la mémoire d'Oswald.
Key ideas. In 2016, David Holdway-Davis, a young Australian of 20, went on a commemorative motorbike ride with his father; they followed the route that his great-great uncle Oswald Davis had taken 100 years before during the battle of the Somme in France. Keep in mind that David's trip was a very emotional and memorable one.
A few tools. Use the information given in the text. Imagine simple but relevant (pertinentes) questions from the journalist which enable David to give clear answers about his motivations, about the trip itself and his feelings during and after the trip. For David's answers, use adjectives expressing feelings such as “respect”, “admiration”, “pride” or “gratitude”.
Key ideas. A commemorative ceremony is an official event to honour someone's memory, like war heroes or victims; it can also honour an outstanding event like the end of a world war, the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, etc. Officials usually take part in these commemorations but ordinary citizens can also attend them.
A few tools. During your history classes at school, you learnt about some major historical events, for example the French Revolution, World Wars I & II, D-Day, the French Resistance, the Holocaust… Which one(s) were you particularly interested in? Think of some heroes or a hero/heroine of this event and explain the reasons why you would like to take part in a commemorative ceremony honouring them or him/her.
Compréhension de l'écrit
This document is a newspaper article published in The Connexion on 28 July 2016. It is about David Holdway-Davis and his commemorative journey to pay tribute to his great-great uncle.
to pay tribute to : rendre hommage à
a building apprentice : un apprenti (des métiers) du bâtiment
a dispatch rider : une estafette, un messager (à moto)
to look up to = to admire and respect
to emulate : imiter
David is a twenty-year-old Australian building apprentice from Brisbane. He decided to go on a motorbike ride in France with his father Philip to follow the route his great-great uncle Oswald Davis had taken 100 years before, during the battle of the Somme. Oswald was from Birmingham (England) and he was a corporal and a dispatch rider during the first world war. He wrote about his experience of the war and shared it through his war diary, newspaper articles and two novels before he died in 1962.
To honour Oswald and the other soldiers who fought during the battle of the Somme, David, his father and other participants from England, France, Australia and New-Zealand went on a special commemorative journey. They rode their motorbikes starting from Abbeville, then stopping in Amiens, Senlis-le-Sec, Thiepval before they arrived in Ypres where they attended a Remembrance ceremony.
David considers Oswald a hero and a role model. He admires his great great-uncle for all the things he managed to do in such a difficult context, for his bravery and his sense of duty. He thinks Oswald should be an inspiration to young people like him, the kind of person his generation should look up to and emulate.
Journalist: David, you were born long after your great-great uncle Oswald Davis died and yet, you went as far as France to honour him; what motivated you to do this commemorative trip?
David: Well, uncle Oswald has always been the family hero. We have all read his war diary and we feel so proud of him! When my father suggested we could do this trip, I was really enthusiastic.
Journalist: What impressed you the most during the trip?
David: Without a doubt, I can say I was amazed by the incredible trip he took with his motorcycle despite the many difficulties and dangers; how he could survive such hardship is a miracle!
without a doubt : sans hésitation
hardship : épreuve(s)
a gravestone : une pierre tombale
to overwhelm : submerger, envahir
Journalist: What did you learn from this trip? Did it change you?
David: I can't tell you how emotional I felt at the Abbeville communal cemetery; surrounded by hundreds of white gravestones, I realised how many people had sacrificed their life to defend freedom. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and admiration. It's an experience I will never forget and I feel more mature and more responsible today.
When I was 15, I took part in a national contest about the French Resistance during World War II. While doing some research, I became really fascinated by these “Fighters in the Shadows”. 27 May is in France a day of remembrance and commemoration to honour them, so attending an official ceremony would be a very special experience for me.
a contest : un concours
remembrance : souvenir
to attend (sth) : assister (à)
to pay tribute (to) : rendre hommage (à)
We have all heard of Jean Moulin, a well-known hero of the French Resistance. However, I'd rather honour the many ordinary citizens, women and men, who risked their lives in many ways to fight against German repression; they helped Resistance networks by providing information, they took part in sabotage operations, they hid Jewish people in their homes, etc.
There's one Resistance fighter in particular whose story really impressed and moved me. His name was Henri Fertet, he was executed when he was only 16. Before dying, he wrote a farewell letter to his parents which showed how brave and dignified he was. Henri has become my hero and it would be an honour to pay tribute to him.