Never again

Two men were lying facedown on the ground. Both covered their head with their hands in a futile attempt at protection against the bullets and rockets that flew above. They were about twenty yards away from each other. Separated by an imaginary line. Border or combat line. Who knows? Who cares? Were they civilians? Soldiers?…

A mid-day walk, London

This past summer, after the Jubilee, the Queen was everywhere in London. Even street artists paid homage. London, July 2022. Where does one start in London? Big ben? Westminster? 1649? When Cromwell declared England a Commonwealth and Free state? Later annexing Ireland and Scotland with a single Parliament in Westminster? The Underground’s a good start.…

A morning walk, Paris

Little G. helping an old Lady tag the wall. Paris, 2022 Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 1900-1944. The author of Vol de nuit (Night flight), Terre des hommes (Wind, sand and stars), The Little prince, and others, was born in Lyon in 1900. With his friends Mermoz, Guillaumet et al, he opened the world to air travel.…

A carrot by the railroad

My grandfather was a railroad man. Blue collar to a fault. I never saw him without his blue heavy duty cotton jacket and his cap. Well, never? Not quite. Sometimes, when he visited us in Paris or in the magic house in Normandy, he wore a black suit with vest and tie. A starched white…

Barbara *

“Remember Barbara It rained and rained on Odessa that day And you walked smiling Beaming delighted soaked Under the rain “Remember Barbara It rained and rained on Odessa I saw you on the Potemkin stairs You were smiling And I smiled too “Remember Barbara I didn’t know you You didn’t know me Remember Remember that…

War and peace, a family account, cont’d

Previously on “War and peace”, from my great-grandfather Élie Martin to my great-uncle Philippe Onraët, an account of the family members who went to war, from the Chinese-French war of the 19th century to WWI… This post will deal with WWII onwards. (All images: family archives) 1939, Rwanda-Urundi, East Africa, my uncle Gérard Leclerc was…

War and peace, a family account

Elie Martin (1843-1920), my great-grandfather on my father’s side. A graduate of the École Navale (French Naval Academy), he joined the service in 1862. Family lore says he fought – and defeated – the Black flags pirates in the Bay of Halong in Indochina, during the Chinese-French war (1881-1885). His Biography at the École Navale…

Svoboda. Liberté. Freedom

“Passengers waiting for a train to Poland in Lviv station (Ukraine), on the third day of the attack launched by Russian president Vladimir Putin. February 26.” L’Express. I normally only publish my own material. But since I’m a bit far from Ukraine, and propaganda is going on strong, I thought I would gather a few…

1940, the war lost

It’s a small booklet, bound in faded black cloth. A time-yellowed label bears a name written with a dip pen: Martin Cyril. My father’s name. Surname first as was and still is customary in France. It’s my father’s flight log in 1939-1940 at the beginning of WWII. My father, very dapper in his freshly cut…

Warriors

“We were warriors once. “We lived in the desert, by the Red sea and the Gulf of Aden. Or so the white man calls them. “All the tribes feared us, the Amharinya, the Tigrinya, the Erythreans, the Somali. We were warriors. We were the Danakils. “To marry the young maiden of our choice we had…