A Brief History of my Family in France - Part 2steemCreated with Sketch.

in story •  3 years ago  (edited)

Part 1

École Navale (French Naval Academy)

Henri entered École Navale (this is how the French Naval Academy is called) in September 1910.
At this time, École Navale was housed on a ship, in the military port of Brest.
Several ships were successfully used over the years, but they were all traditionally called "Borda" when they became École Navale.
In 1910, this was the third "Borda".

Borda

Henri was not sure he would stay there, but he liked what he saw and he stayed.
Pretty soon he was ranked first and, although he was one of the youngest, he became a leader amongst his comrades.

The École Navale have the traditions, several times during the year, of putting shows.
For these shows, cadets are writing lyrics for songs adapted from popular songs of the moment and sing these songs in front of the other cadets, the professors and officers of the École Navale.
There is a repertoire of the most successful songs over the years.
Henri wrote several such songs.
When I was myself a cadet at École Navale, 58 years later, two of Henri's songs were still in the traditional repertoire.

After two years on the Borda, followed by one year (1912-1913) on the "Jeanne d'Arc" at sea, Henri was posted on a gunboat in Tahiti, the Zélée.
La Zélée

Tahiti

During the summer of 1913, Henri traveled to Tahiti.
At this time, there were no airplanes to go there.
Henri took a passenger liner From Le Havre to New York, then trains to San Francisco, then another liner to Tahiti.

In Tahiti, one of the job of the Zélée was to make hydrographic survey of the various French islands around Tahiti.
Those surveys were used to make or improved marine charts.
Henri found this job very interesting and participate in it with enthusiasm.
We will see later how his interest modified the course of his career.
My first post as a navy officer was also in Tahiti and I have used charts that were initially made from the hydrographic surveys of the Zélée.
The name of my grandfather Henri was written of these charts.

Henri was supposed to stay two years in Tahiti on the Zélée.
But, in August 1914, World War I started when Germany declared war on France.

Continue to Part 3

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Did Henri (or you) have a chance to go out to see the island? Meet the Gauguin ladies?
Best regards,
alex