Worcester Twinning Association investigates WWI occupation of French temporary twin town

Members of Worcester Twinning Association have visited Gouzeaucourt in France, a town our city ‘adopted’ in the aftermath of the First World War.

The Twinning Association has been awarded a grant of £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to mount an exhibition about Worcester's role in Gouzeaucourt’s reconstruction, to coincide with the centenary of the war.

Twinning Association members used the visit to work in the Library at Peronne collecting information and researching conditions in the village while it was under enemy occupation during the War.

The members interviewed descendants of Gouzeaucourt’s wartime inhabitants and heard accounts of their experiences. 

They also visited cemeteries where soldiers from the Worcestershire Regiment are buried, a First World War Allied barracks and the recovered British tank, “Deborah”. The Battle of Cambrai, fought just a few miles from Gouzeaucourt, was the first WW1 skirmish to use tanks as a planned battle strategy. After the battle, “Deborah” was buried close to the town.

All the information gathered by the Twinning Association will be used in an exhibition at Worcester Guildhall running July 22-29, telling the story of how Gouzeaucourt was on the front line or occupied for much of the War and detailing the help Worcester gave in the town’s post-war reconstruction.

Liz Smith, Chairman of Worcester Twinning Association, said:  “It was very useful to go out and get the closest thing possible to a first-hand account of how Gouzeaucourt was on the front line or occupied for much of the war, along with the role Worcester played in its post-war reconstruction.

“This will help us bring a human face to the exhibition and website we will be launching in Worcester later this year.”

More details of the exhibition and the website will be announced in the near future, and the Twinning Association is committed to sharing all its work on the project with the people of Gouzeaucourt.

** Worcester Twinning Association is a self-funding voluntary organisation which carries out twinning activities for Worcester City Council.  Its objects are to promote international friendship and understanding by strengthening links between Worcester and its twin towns (Le Vesinet in France, Kleve in Germany, Ukmerge in Lithuania and Worcester, Mass. in the USA.  There is also a Friendship Pact with the French town of Vernon.)  A temporary twinning association with Gouzeaucourt was promoted by the City Council in 2013 for the duration of the centenary of the First World War as part of its commemoration of those events.