The 94 year old colonel had passed on. We'd never seen him, nor indeed heard much about him. His run down house stands at the corner of the village and is quite honestly a bit of an eye sore. A fleet of rusty old 50's and 60's era Citroens, doors ajar, are scattered across what might once have passed as the garden while above them stands a flagpole proudly flying a rather battered and faded 'drapeau tricolore'.
By ten the village green was covered in cars and the bell in the church tower was sounding out a mournful angelus. We watched from a distance as the local veterans associations lined up on either side of the church porch, their flags lowering in life affirming disarray as the coffin passed by. Thirty minutes later they were all out of the church and clustered around the war memorial. An inaudible speech by the mayor, the presentation of scrolls to two ancient sabot and beret wearing villagers, an atonal rendition of the Marseillaise and then, as the little lady in the lilac hat sang the Song of the Partisans, they were off.