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John Bosco was born in Becchi on the 16th of August, 1815. He came from a family of poor farmers. He lost his father, Francesco, at the age of two.
His mother raised him. She taught him to cultivate the soil and to see God behind the beauty of the heavens, the abundance of the harvest, the rain which showered the vines. Mamma Margherita, in the church, learned to pray, and she taught her children to do the same. For John, to pray meant to speak with God on his knees on the kitchen pavement, to think of him while seated on the grass, gazing at the heavens.
From his mother, John learned to see God also in other faces, those of the poor or those of the miserable ones who came knocking at the door of the house during winter, and to whom Margherita gave hot soup, mended shoes.

The great dream
At the age of nine, Don Bosco had the first, great dream which marked his entire life. He saw a multitude of very poor boys who play and blaspheme. A Man of majestic appearance told him: With meekness and charity you will conquer these your friends; and a Lady just as majestic added: Make yourself humble, strong and robust. At the right time you will understand everything.
The years which followed were given direction by that dream. Son and mother saw in it the indication of a way of life.
John tried immediately to do good for boys. When the visiting performers trumpet announced a local feast in the nearby hills, John went and sat in the front row to watch them. He studied the jugglers, tricks and the acrobats secrets. One Sunday evening, John gave his first performance in front of the kids from the neighbouring houses. He performed balancing miracles with pots and pans on the tip of his nose. Then he jumped up on a rope strung between two trees, and walked on it applauded by the young spectators. Before the grandiose conclusion, he repeated for them the sermon he heard at the morning Mass, and invited all to pray. The games and the Word of God began transforming his little friends, who willingly prayed in his company.
Little John understood that to do good for so many boys he needed to study and become a priest. But his brother Anthony, already 18 and an unlettered peasant, did not want to hear of this… He threw away his books and belted him.
On a cold morning of February 1827, John left his home and went to look for work as a farm-servant. He was only 12 but life at home was unbearable on account of the continuous quarrels with Anthony. He worked on the Moglia farm, near Moncucco, during three years. He led the cattle to pasture, milked the cows, put fresh hay in the manger, plowed the fields with the oxen. During the long nights of winter time and during summer, sitting under the trees while the cows stripped their leaves, he went back to his books and studies.
Anthony married three years later. John returned home and resumed his schooling, first at Castelnuovo and then at Chieri. To provide for his needs he learnt different trades: tailor, blacksmith, barman, and he even coached students after classes.
He was intelligent and brilliant, and the best students of the school flocked around him. He founded what was known as the Happy Club. At 20 years of age, John Bosco took the most important decision of his life: he entered the Seminary. There followed six years of intense studies after which he was ordained priest.

He becomes Don Bosco
On June 5, 1841, the archbishop of Turin ordained John Bosco a priest. Now Don Bosco (in Italy the family name of the priest is preceded by Don) was finally able to dedicate himself full time to the abandoned boys he had seen in his dreams. He went to look for them in the streets of Turin. On those first Sundays—says young Michael Rua, one of the first boys he met in those first months, Don Bosco went through the city to become aware of the moral conditions of the young. He was shocked. The outskirts of the city were zones of turmoil and revolution, places of desolation. Unemployed, sad and ready to do anything adolescents caused problems on the streets. Don Bosco could see them betting on street corners, their faces hard and determined, as if to get their way at any cost.
Near the city public market (Turin had a population of 117,000 inhabitants at that time) he discovered a real market of young workers. The part near Porta Palazzo, he wrote years later swarmed with peddlers, shoe polishers, stable-boys, vendors of any kind, errand boys: all poor people who barely eked out a living day after day. These boys who roamed the streets of Turin were the wicked effect of an event that was throwing the world into confusion: the industrial revolution. This started in England but it soon crossed the English Channel and made its way to the South. It would bring a sense of well-being unheard of in previous centuries, but it would be at a very high human cost: the labour question and the gathering of great number of families below the poverty line in the slums of the cities, coming in from the countryside in search of a better life.

Boys in prison
But Don Bosco met the most dramatic situation when he entered the prisons. he wrote: To see so many boys, from 12 to 18 years of age, all healthy, strong, intelligent, insect bitten, lacking spiritual and material food, was something that horrified me. In the face of such a situation he made his decision: I must by any available means prevent boys ending up here. There were 16 parishes in Turin. The parish priests were aware of the problem of the young but they were expecting them to go to the sacristies and to the Churches for the required catechism classes. They did not realize that because of population growth and migration to the city this way of doing things was inefficient. It was necessary to try new ways, to invent new schemes, to try another form of apostolate, meeting the boys in shops, offices, market places. Many young priests tried this.
Don Bosco met the first boy on December 8, 1841. He took care of him. Three days later there were nine, three months later twenty five and in summer eighty. They were pavers, stone-cutters, masons, plasterers who came from far away places, he recalled in his brief Memoirs.
Thus was born the youth centre (which he called oratorio). This was not simply a charitable institution, and its activities were not limited to Sundays. For Don Bosco the oratorio became his permanent occupation and he looked for jobs for the ones who were unemployed. He tried to obtain a fairer treatment for those who had jobs, he taught those willing to study after their days work.
But some of his boys did not have sleeping quarters and slept under bridges or in bleak public dormitories. Twice he tried to provide lodgings in his house. The first time they stole the blankets; the second they even emptied the hay-loft.
He did not give up though, being the obstinate optimist he was. In the month of May, 1847, he gave shelter to a young lad from Valesia, in one of the three rooms he was renting out in the slums of Valdocco where he was living with his mother. I had three lira when I arrived in Turin said the boy sitting near the fire, but I found no work and no place to sleep.

Money problems
After the youngster from Valsesia, another six boys arrived that same year. In the first months money became a dramatic problem for Don Bosco. It would remain a problem throughout his life. His first benefactor was not a countess but his mother. Margaret (Mamma Margherita), a 59 year old poor peasant, had left her house at Becchi to become mother to these poor boys. To be able to put something on the table, for them to eat, she sold her wedding ring, her earrings and her necklace, things which she had kept jealously until then. The boys sheltered by Don Bosco numbered 36 in 1852, 115 in 1854, 470 in 1860 and 600 in 1861, 800 being the maximum some time later.
Some of these boys decided to do what Don Bosco was doing, that is, to spend their lives in the service of abandoned boys. And this was the origin of the Salesian Congregation. Among the first members we find Michael Rua, John Cagliero (who later became a Cardinal), John Baptist Francesia. In the archives of the Salesian Congregation some extraordinary documents, are to be found, such as: a contract of apprenticeship on ordinary paper, dated November 1851; another one on stamped paper costing 40 cents, dated February 8, 1852; there are others with later dates. These are among the first contracts of apprenticeship to be found in Turin. All of them are signed by the employer, the apprentice and Don Bosco.
In those contracts Don Bosco touched on many sore spots. Some employers made servants and scullery-boys of the apprentices. Don Bosco obliged them to employ them only in their acknowledged trade. Employers used to beat the boys. Don Bosco required of them that corrections be made only through words. He cared for their health, he demanded that they be given rest on feast days, that they be given their annual holidays. But in spite of all the efforts and contracts, the situation of the apprentices of the time remained very difficult.

Bashing leather and pushing an awl
In autumn 1853 Don Bosco came to a decision. He begun shoemaking and tailoring shops in the Oratory at Valdocco. The shoemaking shop was located in a very narrow place near the bell-tower of the first church he had just finished building. There Don Bosco sat at a cobblers bench and in front of four little boys he pounded away at a leather sole. Then he taught them how to manage an awl and pack-thread.
After these shops for shoemakers and tailors, Don Bosco built other shops aimed at training book-binders, carpenters, printers and mechanics; six shops in which the privileged place was reserved for orphans, the poor and totally abandoned boys. To take care of these shops Don Bosco invented a new type of religious: the Coadjutors or Salesian Brothers. Similar shops were very soon built in other Salesian presences outside Turin. The Salesian Brothers have the same dignity and rights as those of the Salesian Priests and clerics, but they are specialized people for professional schools. (At the time of Don Bosco’s death, the Salesian professional schools numbered 14 in all. They existed in Italy, France, Spain and Argentina. The number later would grow to 200 across the world).

Password: At once
In the dialogue between Don Bosco and the first boy (he himself wrote this dialogue) there is the expression at once. It looks like an ordinary expression but in reality it is Don Bosco’s password. In fact Don Bosco is drawn to action by the urgent needs of the young and the impossibility of waiting any longer. In the face of the incertitude of the industrial revolution, in the impossibility of finding good and ready made plans and programmes of action, Don Bosco and the first Salesians used all their energies to do something at once for young people in trouble. What directed their programmes of action were the urgent needs of the youngsters. And young people needed a school and a job that would guarantee a more secure future for them; they needed to feel as if they were really boys, that is, they needed to let loose their desire to run and jump in open green spaces, instead of feeling sad beside city sidewalks; they needed to meet God to discover and live according to their dignity. Bread, catechism, professional training and work protected by a good work contract were the things therefore that Don Bosco and his Salesians tried to offer right away to these youngsters. If you come upon somebody who is dying of hunger, instead of giving him a fish, teach him how to fish, it has rightly been said. But the contrary is also true: If you come upon somebody dying of hunger, give him a fish so that he may have the time to learn how to fish. Immediate intervention is not enough nor is it enough to prepare a different future because meanwhile the poor may die of misery.

I have done nothing
In the following years, Don Bosco, working almost to exhaustion, accomplished many imposing works. Besides the Salesians, he founded the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and the Salesian Cooperators. He built the Sanctuary of Mary Help of Christians at Valdocco and founded 59 Salesian houses in six nations. He started the Salesian Missions in Latin America sending there Salesian priests, brothers and sisters. He published a series of popular books for ordinary Christians and for boys. He invented a System of Education founded on three values: Reason, Religion and Loving kindness. Very soon people saw in it an ideal system to educate the young. When somebody would tell Don Bosco the list of the works he performed, he would interrupt the person and immediately say: I have done nothing by myself. It is the Virgin Mary who has done everything. She had traced out his road in the famous dream he had when he was nine. Don Bosco died on January 31, 1888, at dawn. To the Salesians who were keeping vigil around his bed he said in a whisper these last words: Love each other as brothers. Do good to all and evil to none… Tell my boys that I wait for them all in Paradise.

Approaching the Kohala Mountains, State Route 19, near Kawaihae, Hawaii
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I continued on my drive from Kona International Airport to Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historical Park along State Route 19. As I neared Kawaihae, Hawaii, Kohala, the shield volcano comprising the north tip of the Big Island, loomed in the distance.

Kohala is the oldest of five volcanoes that make up the island of Hawaii. It is believed to have last erupted 120,000 years ago. The volcano is cut by multiple deep gorges, the product of thousands of years of erosion.

A dike complex near the volcano’s main caldera separates runoff into two major drainage basins, the Waipiʻo and Waimanu valleys, and it maintains the volcano’s shallow water table. Kohala supports a complex hydrological cycle that has been exploited to provide a water supply to island residents.

Because it is so far from the nearest major landmass, the ecosystem of Kohala has experienced the phenomenon of geographic isolation, resulting in an ecosystem radically different from that of other places. Invasive species introduced by man present a problem to Kohala’s ecosystem, as they push native species out of their habitat. There are several initiatives to preserve Kohala’s ecosystem. Crops, especially sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas), have been harvested on the leeward side of the volano for centuries as well. The northern part of the island is named after the mountain, with two districts named North and South Kohala. King Kamehameha I, the first King of the Kingdom of Hawaii, was born in North Kohala, near Hawi.

The volcano is so old that it experienced, and recorded, a reversal of magnetic polarity (a change in the orientation of Earth’s magnetic field so that the positions of the North and South poles interchange) that happened 780,000 years ago. Fifty different flow units in the top 140 m (459 ft) of exposed strata in the Pololu section are of normal polarity, indicating that they were deposited within the last 0.78 million years. Radiometric dating ranged mostly from 450,000 to 320,000 years ago, although several pieces strayed lower; this indicated a period of eruptive history at the time.

Kohala was devastated by a massive landslide between 250,000 and 300,000 years before present. Debris from the slide was found on the ocean floor up to 130 km (81 mi) away from the volcano. Twenty kilometers wide at the shoreline, the landslide cut back to the summit of the volcano, and is partially, if not largely, responsible for the volcano losing 1,000 m (3,281 ft) in height since then. The famous sea cliffs of the windward Kohala shoreline stand as evidence of the massive geologic disaster, and mark the topmost part of the debris from this ancient landslide. There are also several other unique features found on the volcano, all marks made by the decimating collapse.

The volcano’s lava flows are sorted into two layers. The Hawi Volcanic layers were deposited in the shield stage of the volcano’s life, and the younger Pololu Volcanics were deposited in the volcano’s post-shield stage. The rock in the younger Hawi section, which overlies the older Pololu flows, is mostly 260 to 140 thousand years old, and composed mainly of hawaiite and trachyte. The separation between the two layers is not clear; the lowest layers may actually be in the Pololu section, based on their depositional patterns and low phosphorus content. The time intervals separating the two periods of volcanic evolution were extremely brief, something first noted in 1988.

The United States Geological Survey has assessed the extinct Kohala as a low-risk area. The volcano is in zone 9 (bottom risk), while the border of the volcano with Mauna Kea is zone 8 (second lowest), as Mauna Kea has not produced lava flows for 4,500 years.

Kohala, like other shield volcanoes, has a shallow surface slope due to the low viscosity of the lava flows that formed it. Events during and after its eruptions give the volcano several unique geomorphic features, some possibly resulting from the ancient collapse and landslide. The volcano is shaped like a foot; the northeast coast extends prominently across 20 km (12 mi) of shoreline, differing from the ordinarily smooth, rounded shape of Hawaiian volcanoes.

Kohala is dissected by multiple, deeply eroded stream valleys in a west-east alignment, cutting into the flanks of the volcano. The northwestern slope of Kohala has few stream valleys cut into it, the result of the rain shadow effect—the dominant trade winds bring most of the rainfall to the northeastern slope of the volcano.

The valleys are more than 800 m (2,625 ft) in depth, among the oldest and largest of which are the Waipiʻo and Waimanu valleys. The volcano stayed active well into the formation of these mountainside valleys, as illustrated by later Pololu lava flows, which separated into two directions and often flowed into Pololu Valley. Recent seafloor mapping seems to show that the valley extends a short way into the seafloor, and it is believed the valley formed from the tumbled-out rock from the landslide.

The natural habitats in the Kohala district range across a wide rainfall gradient in a very short distance—from less than 5 in (127 mm) a year on the coast near Kawaihae, to more than 150 in (3,810 mm) a year near the summit of Kohala Mountain, a distance of just 11 mi (18 km). At the coast are remnants of dry forests, and near the summit lies a cloud forest, a type of rainforest that obtains much of its moisture from "cloud drip" in addition to precipitation. These large cloud forests dominate its slopes. This biome is rare, and contains a disproportionate percentage of the world’s rare and endemic species. The soil at Kohala is nitrogen-rich, facilitating root growth.

The happy combination of small trees, bushes, ferns, vines, and other forms of ground cover keep the soil porous and allow the water to percolate more easily into underground channels. The foliage of the trees breaks the force of rain and prevents the impact of soil by raindrops. A considerable portion of the precipitation is let down to the ground slowly by this three-story cover of trees, bushes, and floor plants and in this manner the rain, falling on a well-forested area, is held back and instead of rushing down to the sea rapidly in the form of destructive floods, is fed gradually to the springs and to the underground artesian basins where it is held for use over a much longer interval.

The mountain supports approximately 155 native species of vertebrates, crustaceans, mollusks, and plants. A diverse complexion of fungi, liverwort, and mosses further add to the variety. In fact, up to a quarter of the plants in the forest are mosses and ferns. These work to capture the water from clouds, in turn providing microhabitats for invertebrates and amphibians, and their predators. Estimates on the water capacity of the forest range from 792 US gal (2,998 l) to 3,962 US gal (14,998 l) per hectare.

The mountain is also home to several bogs, which exist as breaks in the cloud forests. It is believed that bogs form in low lying areas where clay in the soil prevents proper water drainage, resulting in an accumulation of water that impedes the root systems of woody plants. Kohala’s bogs are characterized by sedges, mosses of the genus Sphagnum, and the endangered ʻŌhai (Sesbania tomentosa). Other habitats include rain forest and mesophytic (wet) forests.

The same isolation that produced Kohala’s unique ecosystem also makes it very vulnerable to invasive species. Alien plants and feral animals are among the greatest threats to the local ecology. Plants like the kahili ginger (Hedychium gardnerianum) and the strawberry guava (Psidium littorale) displace native species. Prior to human settlement, many major organisms such as conifers and rodents never made it onto the island, so the ecosystem never developed defenses against them, leaving Hawaii vulnerable to damage by hoofed animals, rodents, and predation.

Kohala’s native Hawaiian rain forest has a thick layer of ferns and mosses carpeting the floor, which act as sponges, absorbing water from rain and not letting much of it through to the soil; when feral animals like pigs trample the covering, the forest loses its ability to hold in water effectively, and the result is a severe loss of topsoil, much of which ends up being dumped by streams into the ocean.

From 1400 to 1800, the principal crop grown at Kohala was sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas), although there is also evidence of yams (Dioscorea sp.), taro (Colocasia esculenta), bananas (Musa hybrids), sugarcane (Saacharum officinarum), and gourds of the family Cucurbitaceae. The optimal rainfall level for the sweet potato lies between 30 to 50 inches (76–130 cm) per year. A combination of factors makes the rainfall at Kohala variable both from location to location and from year to year. In addition, Kohala is buffeted by strong winds, which are directly correlated to soil erosion; ancient farmers utilized a series of earthen embarkments and stone walls to protect their crops. This technique has been shown to reduce wind by at least 20–30 percent.

In addition to walls, there are a series of stone paths that divided the farmed area into plots of variable size. These structures are unique because although many people used such systems at the time, Kohala has some of the few to survive. The leeward slopes of Kohala were used for sugar plantations in the late 19th century.Several plantations on the mountain were consolidated into the Kohala Sugar Company by 1937.

Kohala supports a very complex hydrological cycle. In the early part of the 20th century, this was exploited by building surface irrigational channels designed to capture water at the higher elevations and distribute it to the then-extensive sugarcane industry. In 1905, after 18 months and the loss of 17 lives, the Kohala Ditch, a vast network of flumes and ditches, measuring 22 mi (35 km) in length, was completed. Its has since come into use by ranches, farms, and homes.

The Hawaii County Department of Water Supply relies on streams from Kohala to supply water to the population of the island. With increasing demand, the original surface channels have been supplemented by deep wells designed to channel groundwater for domestic use.

The land around Kohala is administered as two districts, North Kohala and South Kohala, of the County of Hawaiʻi. The beaches, parks, golf courses, and resorts in South Kohala are called "the Kohala Coast."

King Kamehameha I, the first King of the unified Hawaiian Islands, was born near Upolu Point, the northern tip of Kohala. The site is within Kohala Historical Sites State Monument. The original Kamehameha Statue stands in front of the community center in Kapaʻau, and replicas of the statue are found at Aliʻiōlani Hale in Honolulu, and in the United States Capitol at the Hall of Columns in Washington, D.C.

Le Paquebot El Djezair
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Image by photolibrarian
Google translation from the French……

The ships go to war

Here is a long saga. The episodes that follow are cited by Mr. Henry HOUARD honorary lieutenant, who was, from 1 November 1939 to October 10, 1940, Officer "trans" on the ship "El Djezair", became the auxiliary cruiser "X 17 "at the beginning of the war. The illustrations that accompany these memories come from the photo albums of M. Michel Paquet, whose uncle, Francis Ollive was purser of the same "El Djezair".

Before World War II, traffic, intense, between North Africa and the city was assured, for almost all, with regard to passengers, by the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique and the Compagnie de Navigation Mixte. Under the flag of the latter three small sailing ships bearing the names of Djezair El, El Mansour and El Kentara. The first two, the most recent, were absolutely identical ("sister ships"), the third oldest in a little different. They were small vessels (3 to 4 000 t) but fast (20 knots) and scored a comfortable enough, given the brevity of the crossings. Certainly they did not look imposing large Transat, the City of Algiers and Oran City, but that rather, the large yachts smooth silhouette.

So they pursue their civilian careers, silent and forth between Marseille and Port-Vendres, Algiers and Tunis. Then, in September 1939, everything changed. Pipes to the acronym "NM" disappeared from the Mediterranean.

These three ships, under their stylish look, were not so innocent as that! In their construction, and probably in return for state support (already), they were designed to become, if applicable, auxiliary cruisers. Bridges, in the space provided for artillery platforms were strengthened, the location of the central station fire control remained free electrical cables needed were gone; bunkers and ammunition had elevations location in the hold, and finally seemed powerful radio equipment, for the time and for vessels that remain in the Mediterranean.

"El" to X

From September 1939 the three "EL" were found in sites of Seyne to become the three "X": X-17, respectively, and X-06 X 16. A swarm of workmen made the necessary changes: changes of the silhouette in the sense of discretion and to this end the chimney back, to present a simple matter of aesthetics, was withdrawn and all superstructures painted gray.

Then they installed a powerful artillery. September carriages 130, 75 A two carriages and two double machine gun 13.2. over all facilities essential accessories: rangefinders, fire control systems, tankers, etc.. The optical transmission means were also increased: signal lamps and double morocco for pavillonnerie.

In the month of October, while the work drew to a close, the manning was completed. The entire staff which armed ships in time of peace was maintained and the staff are supplemented by reserve or active duty, especially in the specialties of arms and transmission. The commanders of the three vessels have remained in office and reserve officers or not, have been given the rank of Commander Auxiliary and temporary. The same procedure was adopted for second officers with the rank of auxiliary lieutenant.

The "El Djezair" with a single stack, just before the Second World War.

In operation, they were to form a division under the command of Admiral Cadart cons, of the 2nd Division, who hoisted his mark on the X-17. It was therefore with a staff including chief of staff, transport officer (all three active), Commissioner, doctor, dentist and chaplain. Those who, like Henry Houard, lived near him every day, not soon forget this great figure.

With ended his active career as a captain commanding one of the three Lorraine in the Atlantic Fleet under the command of Admiral de Laborde – hard school he symbolized for all the true sailor’s beard "squared ", an enormous pipe in his mouth constantly. It was the officer of the bridge type, whose career had not made in the backrooms of the Rue Royale. For all, despite some rigidity in the service, he was the "Father Cadart," a term which we must see more of affection and familiarity.

In this crew, a beautiful day of November 39, three El doubled the tip of St. Mandrier to indulge in a few days of intensive training before going into operation.

The "police" of the Atlantic

After a little rest in Toulon and the additional supplies, it was off to Casablanca. Based in that port, Cadart division was given the job of establishing a kind of dam in the Atlantic. In this ocean that these three ships were attending for the first time, the mission was clear: capture German cargo ships or sailing under another flag, but the benefit of Germany.

By accident or on information, several freighters were boarded and headed for Casablanca. Others were left free after reviewing the documents on board and the nature of cargo, by a team of one of the three cruisers. Few shots across the bow to bring to reason those who were late to stop military actions were the only of this period which lasted until February 1940.

That’s when the division was in Casablanca rally around Brest unspecified. It was war. Soon arrived at Brest, the three "X" were supported by the arsenal .. New transformations permitted to advance assumptions about the fate of the Division.

Draft Far North

Designed for navigation in the gentle waters under the Mediterranean sun they could, in the state, the rigors of the North. Heating systems were strengthened, all exterior ducts insulated and equipped with Canadian men and woolen hats. Also air defense was increased two carriages 130 to the front carriages were replaced by two double 37-AA.

Everything was planned for the Far North Mission Division Cadart reserved by the Admiralty in agreement with the English who appreciated highly the qualities and capabilities of these three boats. "Fast And The Three small ships" they said. It was necessary to rescue Finland, attacked by the USSR and Germany.

Failing to reach the White Sea, too unhealthy, the only port possible was Petsamo on the Arctic Ocean, beyond the North Cape. Everything was ready for the equipment but no orders came. The expedition was canceled Petsamo. Why? Perhaps the information they have collected on the precariousness of the Nazi-Soviet pact. Or more simply, this expedition may have been considered too adventurous? Other projects have then been scaffolded in which the division Cadart found its place?

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El Mansour "saw the bridge of" El Djezair ".

On the bridge of "El Djezair" against the Admiral Cadart (right) and the second class midshipman H. Houard narrator of the story

We will interrupt one-\ time the story of Henri Houard to publish excerpts from a book out of print, dating from 1957, written by Father P. Parquin, who was chaplain on board the auxiliary cruiser " X-17 "(pre-war" El Djezair. "With two other ships, the" El Mansour "and" El Kantara " the " X 17 "should participate in combat operations since 1939. These passages give us the opportunity to present additional pictures.

Since the campaign began, three El have been used for the navy, they were used in a convoy of troops to Beirut. A tragic accident at sea marked the beginning. In the night two trains collided. In the outburst of sirens, car horns hoarse screams, stamps chadburn, cries "Away all!" Buildings collide, sheets wrinkle and human bodies are crushed. The ship landed in Malta Chenonceaux fifteen dead and cons destroyer Vulture, whose rabota bridge, port side, the front of "El Djezair", had six serious injuries. Since then, our hull door, in the sheet metal building, a long scratch on the port bow, evocation of a night terror.

Linguistic sea

The father Parquin evokes the origin of names given to three ships. Recall that the word which the boat is adorned with bow and stern (El Djezair) is the Arabic term designating the city of Algiers. Linguists free to decline the different phases of the African word to reach the French noun. In our maritime style, the name of the boat, just about to be transformed into a diminutive, remained intact. At sea, its function taking precedence over the word Algerian, did appoint the Head of division: the "Admiral", an abbreviation of the generic term flagship ..

El Mansour means the great and beautiful. During the North African history, this term has been attributed to many sultans of Morocco. Besides Tlemcen are the ruins of the city of El Mansour. It had been built by a sultan of Morocco came to lay siege to Tlemcen. But he left his name. In the parlance of the division, the boat does change lives that Article Algerian "El" for the French translation of these two letters. C. Therefore, preventing the meeting of the two labial "L" and "M", ease of pronunciation unanimously decided the choice of the term The Mansour.

"X-16" El Kantara was named a Parade located in southern Algeria in the Sahara. near Biskra. The term Arab means the door of the desert.

A word of mouth capital

Come changes to the workings of Seyne previously described by Mr. Henry Houard. For Father Parquin he did not rule on board monastic silence …

The El Mansour is not to be outdone by the flagship. And, on the other side, the two destroyers on hold, and Sword Corsair, who displayed their bare fishbone not yet expanded, vibrate in their frames pointing skyward like organ pipes. Amidst all this din, and in all these vibrations, the one who can work at his office is privileged. All the boat comes to shake the fever so if you happen, by weariness to close their eyes, you can believe transported the dentist’s chair when you twist drill bits and the brain.

A Sunday, October 22, a pneumatic hammer, surely demonic, did not stop running around us, throughout the mass. For the songs, it was only the lesser evil. For the sermon, it was a disaster at least for my voice.

We talk all the same in this boat, but wide open mouth and into the whorl of the ear of your listener. The bottom of the corridor serving the cabins of the Majority (Staff), hear through two or three closed doors, someone who talks like a bridge in a storm:

- You see Commander, if we put that gun there on the bridge as shown in the plan, the room tear the floor from the first shell. We’ll have épontiller that bridge until the hold!

- That’s right, Admiral, Commander Carpenter screams confidence.

Shy maintenance which is a crucial challenge.

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The three "El" in a row. " El Mansour "at the bottom," El Kantara "between the two, and" El Djezair "in the foreground.

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An anti-aircraft machine gun on " El Djezair ".

Cadart division, made up of various vessels with auxiliary cruisers "El Djezair", "El Mansour" and "El Kantara," must, in April 1940, sailing from Brest to join the north of Norway and landed troops there. But the mission is canceled. On board, we wonder: other projects do they expect the division? This is the question answered here, officer " Trans " of "El Djezair" Mr. Henry Houard.

This question soon found an answer: what was the operation of Norway. He had cut off the German troops landed in the south who were heading north to protect the iron road. An ore mined in northern Sweden, indispensable to the German war industry. Of French and British troops were then landed at Narvik, including old acquaintances, "Cities of Algiers" and "City of Oran", the Transat.

The division Cadart, she was entrusted with a diversion on the German rear: landing of troops (Alpine troops) in the fjord Namsons, 100 nautical note of Trondheim. The embarkation of these troops and their equipment is made in Brest. The division sailed for Norway escorted by the destroyer against "Bison" and the light cruiser "Emile Bertin." "The poor guy" M Houard adds, referring to the Alpini had never seen the sea They did not embark. They had to carry on the ladder! "

Stuck in a fjord

Uneventful crossing. On arrival at nightfall, April 27, 1940, a Norwegian driver took over the convoy at the entrance of the fjord. The escorts were left on the outside to keep their freedom of maneuver. For the sailor accustomed to the vast horizons of the open sea, the entry and journey into the fjord gave the impression of being trapped Basically, a small town flirt grouped around its church, the people friendly and welcoming, Finally, a sense of calm and sweetness of life, far removed from war.

The landing took place in the nu t on a small wooden jetty where boats docked all three in turn. Then head out with a big "Whew!" Of relief.

The secrecy of the operation Namsos was well kept. Had they known, the Germans could attack by air, inside the fjord, away from DCA. It would have been a massacre. Taking back the convoy training, empty of troops, and zigzag road to Scapa Flow in Orkney away nets and the DCA of the English fleet.

The Germans attacked the fjord until the next day and subsequent days. The troops having been landed

unfold, the losses were insignificant. The village of Namsos, there remained a heap of ashes.

But the rest of our group to Scapa Flow was short lived. Indeed, the situation deteriorated rapidly in Norway. Division Cadart, always available, was shipped to Namsos to embark on May 3, not the French Alpine troops but British troops turned back by the Germans and completely demoralized.

The Namsos that we found in ruins a week later, Namsos dapper and welcoming that we had remembered. After a rembarquernent crash during the night, leaving the fjord took place at dawn. Training under convoy of British destroyers and road in Great Britain. That’s when things soured s.

The escort ships were there, faithful to the post. They devoted themselves to sudden changes because of enemy submarines had been reported. The attack came from heaven. The convoy was the target of Messerschmitt 109 fighter-bomber crashing in waves all day May 3. Either they had been lucky or they are very handy, they were able to maneuver to avoid the bombs, the three "El" fared intact. It was not the same for the escort: the "Bison" was sunk, the "Emile Bertlin" damaged by a bomb that had crossed from top to bottom without exploding. Several enemy planes were shot down.

At the front of "El Djezair", you can see the artillery platforms.

The old ships carrying British troops that they are repatriated. Under the protection of British destroyers, they are on Greenock Road.

Soon reached the 8 May 40: the rush of German mechanized divisions across Belgium, the breakthrough at Sedan, the siege of the Franco-British forces and Dunkirk. French troops are in England. In the hope, vain, to counteract the surging German forces in France, it was decided to bring them back to Brest. The three "El" was still available to provide transportation in part. Thus the "small and fast ships" found themselves in Brest at the beginning of June.

With current events, one could believe their military careers ended. It did not happen. In the general debacle, he had to save everything he could to save, and among other things, the gold of the Banque de France stored in forts around Brest. Again, the Division Cadart was put to use for transportation to Africa.

Gold in Dakar

For 48 hours, while everything that could float left Brest, sometimes jumping on magnetic mines by aircraft launched by the Germans, an endless stream of trucks requisitioned civilians, realized the clock moving boxes of bullion, since the strong up Wharf Lannion. At first, the trucks were escorted by riot police then, there remained the driver when the troops had evacuated the town.

Controller of the Bank of France was on hand to point out the crates. He boarded the El Djezair with them. The most extraordinary in all this is that with the exception of one case probably escaped from a net and fell into the water, there was no shortage!

Equipment on June 18, hours before the Germans arrived, with orders to reach Casablanca without escort protection. Uneventful crossing.

The Armistice was signed. Before the lusts that could cause the loading of the three "El", both by the Germans than English, it was decided to put the gold away in Dakar. And three "El" to sail again, still without protection and with orders to avoid English cruisers might be interested a little too close to the loading … It’s along the coast and closer to the shelter of a sand storm providential that limited visibility to a few miles (speed cameras did not exist at that time) that the Division reached its destination. She found the Richelieu left Brest a few days before it.

Gold could be landed and buried at Fort Thies, lost in the sands. where he remained until 1945. Thus ended the campaign of the Division Cadart. The ships were disarmed, the crews returned to their homes, except the necessary personnel to guard and security. Present in Dakar during the attack of 23, 24 and 25 September 1940, they have taken no part.

The three auxiliary cruisers were cited twice in the order of the Nation, during operations in Norway.

The finder of "El Djezair" discrete beacon signaling, was built on board, according to the plans of Henry Houard.

What happened to "El Djezair", "El Mansour" and "El Kantara" after traveling to Norway and then in Dakar in 1940, you indicated to finish.

The steamer "El Mansour" crossing the Mediterranean after the war (return to service date of August 15, 1948). He no longer has a fireplace as a result of its transformation in 1938.

Déréquisitionné November 16, 1940, after the events in Dakar, El Djezair wins Marseille with the two other El shipyards in the Mediterranean Seyne take charge of its restoration. With his brother El Mansour and El Kantara their eldest, he assures, in 1941 some connections with North Africa, then laid up at Marseilles, he took the sea in 1942.

Seized by the Germans in 1943, they yield to the Italians as the Casino. Retaken by the Germans at the end of that year, he is disarmed in the Thau lagoon. In June 144, during an Allied air bombardment, El Djezair receives bombs, burned and capsized.

The life of this brave nvire’re not completely finished because, in 1950, the wreck will be bailed out and sold in Italy. Recovered its machines will be transplanted to a new El

Rescue "Littoria"

The existence of her sister ship El Mansour will be much longer and happier. Built to sites from the Mediterranean to the Seine, commissioned in 1933, it will be for more than thirty years, one of the fastest ships in the Mediterranean and comfortable. El Mansour, weighing 5835 tx for a length of 122 m, will carry 383 passengers and its speed will be over 20 knots. He will know the Italian government praise for rescuing the crew of the seaplane Littoria and shells of Spanish Republicans in 1938.

During the war, he shared the fate of his younger El Djezair of the 1st division of auxiliary cruisers (DCX) and then was seized by the Germans in 1943. Italian as a moment then back Amagni German scuttled by them in August 1944 in the port of Marseille, salvaged in 1946, he underwent an overhaul in two years at La Ciotat.

From 1948 to 1963, when it was sold to the Navy, it will honor its flag, its owners and its shipyards. Navy turns it into basic building under the name of Maine, and he will therefore still in Tahiti, for the atomic bomb tests in the Pacific.

Two Chimneys low

In 1974, it will be delisted from the fleet and sunk by a cannon advised on April 3. The end of the boat as El Mansour goal sadden all lovers of ships, particularly those who are known.

The existence of the eldest of El will, too, very animated. El Kantara, built in 1932 at Swan Hunter shipyards in Britain, was in some ways the prototype of the series. Since its commissioning on-line Port-Vendres Algiers, its elegant silhouette, with its two low stacks and rear cruiser rallies all votes. Characteristics: 5080 tx, length 121 m, speed: over 20 knots, passengers: 360.

He released a grounding in 1936 with the help of his cousin El Mansour. In January 1943 he will also, before leaving the German authorities then shipped to Italy, April 23 following, Aquino (his new name) carrying troops from Livorno to Tunis, will be bombarded and burned by the Royal Air Force .

Rarely will a trio of ships had as much success with clients on both sides of the Mediterranean. The commissioning of these three El has symbolized the height of the mixed company of Navigation.

Readers wishing more details may refer to the book by Bernard Bernadac on the history of the Compagnie de Navigation Mixte.


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