For Remembrance Day, we helped 91-year-old Chelsea Pensioner, Frank Mouqué, become the first World War Two veteran to use virtual reality technology to return to a town that he helped liberate. We wanted to create a unique application of one of the year’s most-discussed forms of emerging technology, in a way that works around the practical realities of an aging veteran population.
Partnering with the Royal Hospital Chelsea, home of the iconic Chelsea Pensioners, we asked our community of videographers, editors, musicians, producers, and other creatives from around the world to collaborate on this project.
With the help of Mutiny Media, Paul Saunderson, and other creative talents, we transported Frank to the town of Armentières, France, which he fondly remembers, 72 years after helping liberate it from Nazi occupation in the weeks following D-Day.
The virtual reality experience we created for Frank features a tour of present-day Armentières, a subtitled interview with the town’s Mayor during which the French dignitary virtually presents Frank with the town’s official medal, conversations between two elderly residents on their memories of occupation and liberation, and a group of schoolchildren expressing gratitude by singing a traditional local nursery rhyme.
About Frank Mouqué
Frank Mouqué was born in Putney, London, in 1925. A corporal in the 263 Field Company of the British Royal Engineers, Frank was a sapper, responsible for laying and defusing mines and explosives, constructing and destroying bridges and edifications, as well as participating in combat. Frank was part of the D-Day assault on Sword Beach, where, under fire, he and his fellow sappers cleared a path through the mine-littered beach ahead of the rest of the British troops. In the weeks following the D-Day landings, Frank was part of the Allied forces that took Pegasus Bridge and liberated several northern French towns, including Armentières – the town he remembers most clearly and most fondly. With the Allied forces, Frank pushed on through France to Belgium, Holland, and, finally Germany.
After the War, Frank acted as a military translator in Germany and a mine-defusal expert in northern France, before returning to the UK, where he married and had a family. Now 91, Frank lives at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, which he describes as the “best nursing home in the world”, entertaining staff and fellow Chelsea Pensioners with his irrepressible sense of humour.
The town of Armentières, near the Belgian border in Nord-Pas-de-Calais, northern France, is one of the most beautiful and historically-important sites in the region.
The area was a centre of conflict in both World Wars, and the town and its people – whose motto is Pauvre mais fière (Poor but proud) – withstood great hardships in the early 20th century. Close to the Western Front during World War I, and occupied by the Nazis for much of World War II, the town also served as a home for Allied forces at various points in both conflicts.
Through two World Wars and years of fighting, shelling, occupation, rationing, and loss of life, the people of Armentières became bywords for cheerfulness, resilience, and hospitality amongst the Allied troops, and “Mademoiselle from Armentières” was a popular song among Allied soldiers in both wars, remembered by many today.
Armentières is rich in 20th century military history, and its tourist board and museum are highly active in international historical and re-enactment activities.
About the Royal Hospital Chelsea
The Royal Hospital Chelsea is the historic home of the iconic Chelsea Pensioners. Founded in 1681 by Charles II to provide a home for the relief of ‘veterans broken by age and war’, it remarkably still serves the same purpose over 300 years later.
Today, the Royal Hospital provides over 300 Chelsea Pensioners, like Frank, with a home, support and the highest levels of care during their advanced years, in recognition of their loyal service to the nation. Each Chelsea Pensioner understands what it means to be a soldier in the British Army and the sacrifice it entails. Veterans who reside at the Royal Hospital have served in World War Two, Korea, Northern Ireland and the Falklands.
Members of the public can support the Chelsea Pensioners’ Appeal, to ensure that the Chelsea Pensioners and their historic home are here for the next 300 years.
About Mutiny Media
Mutiny Media is a revolutionary production company born out of a desire to make beautiful, engaging VR & digital content for all. Promoting international brands, communities and organisations, nothing can build understanding and trust like the immersive experience of virtual reality film. They provide crew, equipment and post-production solutions enabling the creation of immersive 360 VR content, explosive features, fantastic commercials and cutting-edge documentary.