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Fraternal love has always been somewhat fragile in Llandudno Town Hall, where the community council is trying to cut its twinning ties with Wormhout, in Flanders.

Little more than a parish council, created out the shambolic 1974 reorganisation of local government, Llandudno Town Council has devised a masquerade for itself, complete with silly gowns, frills and baubles, in imitation of old borough councils.

One of the few interesting things it did, way back in 1988, was sign a twinning charter with the little French town of Wormhout, near Dunkerque, where the local Territorial Army unit was ambushed in 1940 by the notorious SS regiment Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler.

Victims of that ambush lie in the cemetery at Wormhout.

Down the road, at Esquelbecq, there is a lonely memorial beside a field where some survivors of the ambush were executed by an SS company led by Hauptsturmf uehrer Wilhelm Mohnke.

I was at the unveiling and dedication of the memorial in 1996 when a cyclist arrived with news that Mohnke had just died, at his Hamburg home.

He had lived on a major-general's pension, which was awarded for his services as final commander of Hitler's Berlin bunker.

As the survivors of World War II fade away, so Llandudno council's interest in its twinning agreement has waned, to the point where it has decided it should be handed over to a local association of volunteers.

Linked specifically to a wartime event, Llandudno's twinning agreement needs the guaranteed continuity of a local authority, as distinct from the transient interest of a group of volunteers.

But Llandudno has a history of abandoning its French friends. It did the same with the little town of Mametz, which lay in the middle of the Somme battlefield of World War I.

A brigade of Lloyd George's Welsh Army, raised at Llandudno, was massacred at Mametz Wood. Llandudno adopted the French town in 1920 and helped fund its restoration.

However, despite the Daily Post's having arranged for a group from North Wales to attend the 1987 unveiling of a Red Dragon sculpture at Mametz, Llandudno council ignored the event.

When the mayor of Mametz asked: "Where are the Llandudno representatives?" I stepped forward with my son, a major in the Royal Welch Fusiliers, to save the town's reputation.

We were shown documents relating to the 1920 adoption.

Now the council has grown weary of its link with Wormhout, claiming it takes up too much time! The people of Llandudno might be forgiven for wondering what on earth Llandudno Town Council does with its time, apart from boosting its own ego.

There are road signs at the entrances to Llandudno proudly proclaiming its twinning. There are reciprocal signs on the boundaries of Wormhout, where, like the citizens of Mametz, the residents will be honouring the Llandudno soldiers long after Llandudno Town Council has drowned in its own narcissism.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 14, 2006
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