Jean-Pierre Dupont died on 30 July 2017 aged 83. He was a loyal French supporter of the Green Howards for over 20 years. In addition to his special help in the purchase of the hut on Gold Beach, since handed back to his village of Ver-sur-mer, he also coordinated our annual commemoration on the beach. Colonel and Mrs Mantell attended his funeral, as did Alison Young, daughter of the late Major ‘Bolo’ Young MC who was known to many Green Howard veterans.
Jean-Pierre was born in Paris in 1933 but soon after the outbreak of war was evacuated to his godmother’s house in Ver. In January 1944 the occupying German forces started to construct concrete gun positions near his temporary home which was within sight of the sea. Soon afterwards their house was requisitioned and the family expelled. The gun positions were then subjected to intensive aerial bombardment.
On 28 May 1944 a fresh bombardment took place not far from the house. A shell exploded nearby, with a large piece of shrapnel landing close to him. After that narrow escape, he left the area which nine days later would be the scene that would become known as Gold Beach and where Stanley Hollis carried out his famous action.
Jean-Pierre completed national service in the French navy. He then started his professional career by joining, first, a transatlantic shipping company. This was followed by Air France with which he remained for the remainder of his working life.
He married Jeannine and had a son Jean-Philippe; grandchildren followed. Although living in the Paris region, he returned often to the village of his childhood, finally retiring there and buying a house in the appropriately named 8th Army road. In 1988 he had the idea of creating a museum to commemorate the first transatlantic postal flight from New York to France in 1927. (The aircraft was due to land at Paris but ditched 100 metres offshore at Ver.) The museum opened in 1996 and has since received over 100,000 visitors, many from overseas.
He also enjoyed welcoming British D Day veterans, their successors and their families, not only to the museum but also for commemorations of the landings, including those of the Green Howards. In recognition of his many years devotion to this cause he was appointed Honorary MBE.
Last year it was a particular pleasure to welcome Jean-Pierre, accompanied by his friend Jean-Francois Le Cuziat, when they visited RHQ and the Museum and attended Green Howard Sunday. Two photos show (1) Jean-Pierre wearing a Green Howards jacket at the grave of Stanley Hollis, a man he much admired; and (2) at the hut on Gold Beach (right of the Mayor in sash) during the 2014 GHA battlefield tour ceremony.
The Green Howards will miss him.
Representative Colonel & Chairman Green Howards Association