A Chelsea Pensioner has been whisked back to the French town he helped liberate during Second World War after using virtual reality technology.
Frank Mouqué donned the headset as part of Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday events to return to the northern town of Armentières, near the Belgian border in Nord-Pas-de-Calais, more than 70 years after he helped free it from Nazi occupation in the weeks following the D-Day landings.
The Royal Hospital Chelsea - the Grade I listed home of the Chelsea Pensioners in Royal Hospital Road - worked together with creative marketplace Twine and Mutiny Media to make the footage which sees the 91-year-old war hero given a tour of the present-day town.
Mr Mouqué was born in Putney and was part of the 1944 D-Day assault on Sword Beach.
In the following weeks he helped liberate several northern French towns before pushing on through France to Belgium, Holland and finally into Germany.
The video was made by Twine’s community of videographers, editors, musicians, producers, and other creatives from around the world to collaborate on the project.
An interview with Mr Mouqué on Twine’s YouTube page features Mr Mouqué recounting the 1944 landings, and being bombed and shelled.
“There was quite a lot of casualties,” he said. “I lost a lot of my friends one way or another on that bridging site.”
After wearing the virtual reality headset, he is seen being thanked by people living in the town, some with memories of its liberation, while a group of schoolchildren thank him by singing a traditional local nursery rhyme.
He was also virtually presented with the town’s official medal by Armentières’ Mayor Bernard Haesebroeck.
After the experience he said: “Fantastic. I’m lost for words. It was like I was in there. As if the children are in front of you.”
The Chelsea Pensioner was handed the physical medal from the town and the people of Armentières.
Vowing to treasure it, he added: “Thank you so much, very much appreciated, and on behalf of all the people who were with me, they will say thank you too.”
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