In a quieter moment after the Valençay memorial ceremony on Sunday 6th May, two RAF members of the Joint Forces Intelligence Group (JFIG) were able to make a special and rather unusual presentation to the town's mayor, M. Claude Doucet.
It was a gift pack of Moonlight Ale which had been sent to France courtesy of Alex Arkell, the Head Brewer of Arkell's Brewery in Swindon, as a reminder of the wartime role played by his late grandfather - Peter Arkell OBE.
As F/Lt Peter Arkell during WW2, he'd been a pilot with 161 (Special Duties) Squadron flying top secret missions into and out of occupied France in an unarmed Lysander aircraft from RAF Tangmere in Sussex. His experience was then utilised by 357 Squadron for its clandestine Lysander operations in Burma.
In the mid-1950s Peter Arkell joined the family brewing business as a Director, and he would eventually become its Chairman. In recognition of his wartime role, his eightieth birthday in 2003 had been marked by the brewing of Moonlight Ale.
The Charity's Trustee Paul McCue had brought the gift of Moonlight by car from Britain -
"M. Doucet had been unaware of Arkell's Brewery and its close family link to Lysander operations into France and he thanked Alex and The Secret WW2 Learning Network, for arranging its delivery to Valençay."