Message from Nicolas Paquin
Rest assured that I am not fighting this fight for nothing. There are three reasons for this.
Injustice first. You have to listen to the video to understand that there is an injustice to Ross. Those who made the monument to the Typhoon pilots in Noyers-Bocage deliberately omitted it because he did not die with his hands at the controls of his plane. They decided that he did not deserve to be with his brothers in arms. On the official list in the church next door, he was not counted either.
I took steps to correct the situation on this monument and was refused. Someone even had the affront of claiming that his file is a fake and that Ross was a mechanic who dressed up to appear in the squadron’s photos. Absurd and unfair.
Second reason, the meaning of sacrifice. As long as we take a name from a list for what it seems to be, a name from a list of names, we erase the humanity that that name had. There is a life behind these men, and it is my job to bring these lives back to ours.
What does Napoleon Hattote’s name mean on a monument to the victims of the Merchant Navy, if we do not make the link with his son Lauréat, miraculously but psychologically broken by the same shipwreck, and if we do not make the link with his other son Émile, killed in Holland?
Finally, the memory transfer. The younger generations no longer respond to traditional ceremonies. Conventional commemorative plaques do not speak to them. As the witnesses fade away, there is no way for them to understand what happened. A sculptural work that offers to the viewer the very symbolic face of this boy who died tragically is, in my opinion, a renewed way of commemorating. That’s the purpose of art: to allow people to see something from a different perspective.
Colorised by Doug Banks