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  • David Leavitt

Christmas Eve, 1942

It's been a month since we last posted here on the blog, and so much has happened. We'll do a better job keeping the updates coming. We're grateful for so many people's interest in what we're doing at Knockderry. We started the blog in the middle of the night after we visited the castle after purchasing it. We were a bit panicked at what we'd actually done and thought we'd memorialize it for our children and other family members. We're so thrilled that people have expressed such interest both in the blog and in our new Instagram page.

One of the aspects of this journey that we have absolutely loved are the finds--small and large--that readers to the blog have found and passed on to us. The latest find--the photo above--comes from our architect Neil McAllister at GLM . Neil found a photo of Charles De Gaulle at Knockderry on Christmas Eve, 1942. Charles De Gaulle was the leader of the Free French effort in World War II. Of course, he later became the President of France. We've mentioned that during the war, Knockderry served as a hospital for wounded French soldiers. De Gaulle paid a visit to the wounded soldiers on Christmas Eve and delivered gifts to them.

Here's what the Helensburgh Heritage Trust (the organization who posted the photo) had to say about it: "Free French leader General Charles De Gaulle, later to become President of France, visited Free French naval wounded at the World War Two Knockderry Hospital in Cove in the requisitioned Knockderry Castle on Christmas Eve 1942. Having arrived with his aides by taxi from Kilcreggan Pier, driven by local man Tom McNeilage, he spent an hour with the patients and distributed gifts. The Secretary of State for Scotland would have attended to welcome him, but did not have enough notice of the visit. Photo by James Hall of Greenock, which is in the Norman Burniston Collection, published by kind permission of Norman Burniston." Our thanks to the Helenburch Heritage Trust for having posted this photo and description.

Seeing the term "Knockderry Hospital" got us Googling the term to see if we could find out anything more. We were thrilled to find a novel published online by Google books entitled Tapestry of War by Jane MacKenzie. It contains fascinating description of elements of the castle when it served as a hospital. The link should take you to the page, for those who are interested.

Thanks, again for your interest in the blog!

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