Benjamin Canayer

Benjamin Canayer was born on 26th August 1998. After a literary diploma he studied History, specializing in modern history and the aftermath of WWII.

At the end of his studies, he became a project leader for the city of Saint-Jouin-Bruneval and organized the 80th anniversary of the Bruneval Raid in June 2022. He led a project to create a unique full-scale replica of a British landing craft from WWI and oversaw the festivities. For his contribution, he received two medals from the British embassy and the Bruneval Company.

Benjamin grew up in Le Havre, a city where the memories of the Liberation were painful and raw. He quickly became fascinated by the remains of bunkers he saw all over the city and started asking questions. As a kid he would play with the old family gas mask and helmet and, naturally inquisitive, he began reading documents and listening to stories from his elders.

He can trace his family history right back to a grenadier from the Imperial Guard of Napoleon; veterans of the last campaign of the Empire. Some say that the rheumatism in his family comes directly from Moscow.

His great great grandfather was Captain Isidore Cahierre, who died from a bullet in the head at La Haute Chevauchée, near Verdun in July 1915.

Jane Dom was Benjamin’s great great grandmother. On the first day of World War I, she became a volunteer nurse at the Red Cross in Le Havre, healing the wounded soldiers throughout the war. She kept a daily diary, writing her thoughts and feelings of this time. At the end of the war, she founded an association for the wounded soldiers who had been blinded by the gas. This association still exists today and continues its work helping the blind.

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His great grandfather was the lieutenant Henri Cahierre, he was captured during the debacle of 1940 and send to the Oflag 2-B in Pomerania. He walked 310 miles with others prisoners and German troops retreating to avoid being captured by the Russians. He arrived in the Ruhr where he was transported by US Air Force in a C-47 Dakota to France, the only flight of his life.

His other great grandfather was a lieutenant-colonel of the cavalry. He avoided being captured and served in the small French army, much depleted by the Germans.

Both of Benjamin’s grandfathers served during the Algerian War. His maternal grandfather was a sergeant at the military airport of Mérignac and loaded bombs under the aircrafts. His paternal grandfather was a medic officer and served in the field.

Benjamin’s childhood was full of stories told to him by his maternal grandfather.

His grandfather still remembers the German occupation of his farm in 1944 at the age of eight. The disappearance of his father, the sound of allied aircraft when he went to school, the lift off of the V1 missile near to his home and playing in the abandoned German bunkers, at that time still full of the remnants of the war…

Today, it is this love of history that motivates Benjamin, his desire to share and discuss this momentous period of history and honour the story of his beloved Normandy.

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Jane Dom a few years before the Great War

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Lieutenant Henri Cahierre

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Captain Isidore Cahierre