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A sailor's view of early career service in the Marine nationale on the eve of the First World War

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posted on 2022-08-29, 22:15 authored by Chris MadsenChris Madsen


Conventional naval histories seldom consider the individual experiences of common sailors. Subaltern and other approaches to history from below use new sources to take a different viewpoint. In May 1913, recruit Georges Brucelle arrived in Toulon to start voluntary service in France’s Marine nationale. After completing common training, he specialized in torpedoes and undertook instruction to gain qualification. Assigned to a destroyer minelayer, Brucelle died along with many other of the ship’s crew during operations in 1915. Personal letters sent to his family reveal insights into the working and social lives of a French sailor just before the Great War.

Les histoires navales conventionnelles tiennent rarement compte des expériences individuelles des marins ordinaires. Les approches subalternes et autres de l'histoire par le bas utilisent de nouvelles sources pour adopter un point de vue différent. En mai 1913, la recrue Georges Brucelle arrive à Toulon pour commencer le service volontaire dans la Marine nationale. Après avoir terminé une formation commune, il se spécialise dans les torpilles et entreprend une instruction pour obtenir une qualification. Affecté à un contre-torpilleur mouilleur de mines, Brucelle mourut avec de nombreux autres membres de l'équipage du navire lors d'opérations en 1915. Des lettres personnelles envoyées à sa famille donnent un aperçu de la vie professionnelle et sociale d'un marin français juste avant la Grande Guerre.


Royal Military College of Canada


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Lead author country

  • Canada

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  • Higher Education Faculty 4-yr College

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Canadian Forces College, Royal Military College of Canada

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