X Le Boquet, Pont-Farcy

Normandy, France

Some historical notes and images

In early 2011 four framed pictures were found hidden in a barn at Le Boquet. They consisted of two marriage photographs, a baptism certificate typical of the turn of the C20th and a photograph of schoolboys with their master. These pictures had belonged to Marie Cordhomme (née Goddard).
She and her husband René, a carpenter, had lived at Le Boquet until their deaths and neighbours who remember Marie Cordhomme believe she may have hidden the pictures in order to prevent them falling into the hands of anyone casually rummaging through her belongings following her death.

By Christopher Long

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Marie Goddard marries René Cordhomme


ené Cordhomme, a carpenter, and his bride Marie Goddard are pictured here with their wedding guests in front of the schoolmaster's house at Pont-Farcy.

They spent the early years of their marriage in a house next to the schoolmaster, Monsieur Madeline, who himself appears in this photograph along with his wife and their young daughter who was to become Mme Née.

The school-master's house (the right-hand part of the building in this picture) was still standing in 2011. The left-hand part was demolished to make way for new school buildings and a playground.

There were at least two prominent Goddard families in the area (one well-known in Fourneaux) and this image shows a good number of Marie's extended family. In 2011, Marie Tudal (née Goddard) was able to identify several of her relatives and other local figures (see caption).

A small farm, part of the village of Le Boquet in Pont-Farcy, belonged to Marie's parents, Albert & Léontine Goddard. On their death Marie inherited it and settled there with René.

The couple had no children of their own but raised a boy named Noël Delavarde and another child who bore the same family name as Marie's mother (i.e. Laurent).

X X René was held prisoner in Germany from 1940 and released in 1945.

Thereafter the couple kept one or two cows on about two hectares at Le Boquet where René had a workshop in the 'grange' part of the old building to the east of their house. It was probably Marie who milked these cows morning and evening (in the stable part of the same old building) and since her cows would have needed to produce a calf each year in order to continue producing milk, it's likely she fattened the calves in the purpose-built calf-shed nearby (designed in fact for four calves).

In the 'maison' part of this same old building René made cider in at least 4 large barrels (1,400 litres each, or 700 'pots') from a large number of apple trees that then covered much of the land around their house (known as the 'Parc' by CAL & SRL).

Two of these barrels were found to be very rotten by 2010 but the other two were still intact in 2012.

From this cider René distilled illicit calvados ('calva' or 'la goutte') in what had previously been a bread-oven!

A 50mm. pipe, disguised as an electricity supply, was buried underground supplying cider from the barrels in the maison to the 'still' (or alambic') in the bread oven (see more).

Marie and René had a vegetable garden situated between their cottage (long abandoned by 2012) and the bread oven (the latter having been transformed into an outside lavatory and general storeroom).

For some years René performed some of the role of a 'cantonnier' in Pont-Farcy, collecting household refuse with his donkey cart which he then dumped in old sunken roads because, until 2009, no better recycling or land-fill sites then existed. These sunken roads included one a few hundred metres from his house which formed the boundary between Ste Marie-Outre-L'Eau and Pont-Farcy.

Marie was warmly remembered by those who remembered her in the early years of the C21st – more than 20 years after her death. Her husband René was remembered with some respect, but less affection, by elderly men in Pont-Farcy who, when choirboys, had suffered his penchant for hitting them when they were less than very well-behaved in church.


M & Mme Madeline with their German 'occupier' in Pont-Farcy in the 1940s


his image was most certainly not among those that Marie Cordhomme hid away for safe-keeping at Le Boquet. Indeed it is hard to imagine how she would have felt about such a photograph.

Taken in January 1941 during the German occupation of France (1940-44) it depicts Monsieur Madeline, headmaster of Pont-Farcy school, with his wife and mother-in-law (Mme Yung) standing in front of the same front door that had figured in Marie's wedding reception photograph a few years earlier (see above).

With the Madeline family is a relaxed looking German who had presumably become a friend and may quite possibly have been billeted with them in the schoolmaster's house. The German has his arm through that of an elderly lady who may be a relation (mother?) of Monsieur Madeline or his wife.

At the time that this photograph was taken (presumably by a fellow German), Marie Cordhomme's husband René was a prisoner in Germany of the same occupying Germans – and remained so for four years...

As British and American troops progressively liberated Calvados and Manche respectively (June-August 1944) Henri Letellier was a child in Pont-Farcy. He and his parents, in the company of M. & Mme Madeline and their dog Giky, were told by their German occupiers to seek shelter from the advancing American troops by remaining behind the German front lines.

In fact there was very little fighting in Pont-Farcy but by then the Letellier and Madeline families found themselves near the Falaise 'pocket' where the bulk of the German army was trapped and encircled by combined British, Canadian and American armies. In 2011 Henri identified not only the Madeline family in this photograph but also their dog 'Giky', a familiar figure throughout Pont-Farcy. He thought Giky was among their band of refugees hiding in ditches as the German army was crushed nearby at Falaise.


Marie Goddard attends a Savary family marriage at Colombier, Pont-Farcy


ccording to Roger Savary in 2011, this group photograph was taken at the marriage of his parents Monsieur & Mme Savary. To the right are farm buildings of Le Colombier, Pont-Farcy, opposite the house that Roger inherited from his parents. In the background can be seen the roof of Calambier which, by 2011, had long been the home of Henri Letellier.

However, this copy of the photograph was found half hidden at nearby Le Boquet in 2011. The explanation seems to be that Marie Cordhomme's mother Léontine (née Laurent) appears in the image as one of the cooks (in a white apron seated second from left in the front row). The fact that Marie had preserved this picture along with her own marriage photograph suggests that the Savary marriage was an important event in her life – and perhaps she too is among the guests in the picture.


A mysterious school-master and his boys


his was the third photograph found half hidden at Le Bosquet. Nothing indicates where or when it was taken. However a random piece of newspaper had been stuck to the back of the photo as a form of padding within the frame and this newspaper bears the date 1903.

Marie would probably only have a photograph of schoolboys alongside that of her own wedding if the picture included, say, her father, a brother or her husband. As yet it is not certain where or when this photograph was taken.


Léontine Laurent's baptism certificate


his baptism certificate is typical of those issued to most children in France as they passed through the stages of baptism, first communion and confirmation in the Roman Catholic church.

In this case it records the baptism of Marie Cordhomme's mother Léontine Laurent at La Colombe (Manche) on 28 February 1887 and her first communion at La Colombe on 24 July 1898.

In 2011, many elderly people in Calvados and Manche could produce family certificates identical to this, but in this case it's clear that Marie Cordhomme (née Goddard and known to have been a fervent Christian) placed a specially high value on it since she appears to have half-hidden it in an out-building along with the three photographs reproduced above, probably for safe-keeping.

The original prints of the two photographs of the Madeline family in Pont-Farcy pictured with a German 'friend' were found for sale on the internet and bought, in 2010, by the author's friend Emmanuel Villain who was then compiling a book on the German occupation of Mont-Saint-Michel. Emmanuel kindly offered the photographs to CAL who chose instead simply the right to scan and reproduce the images on this web site. The photographs simply state on the back, in German, that they were taken in Pont-Farcy in January 1941. Thanks to Henri Letellier the identities of the people (and their dog) were established.

© (2011) Christopher A. Long. Copyright, Syndication & All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
The text and graphical content of this and linked documents are the copyright of their author and or creator and site designer, Christopher Long, unless otherwise stated. No publication, reproduction or exploitation of this material may be made in any form prior to clear written agreement of terms with the author or his agents.

Christopher Long

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