La Catastrophe de la Martinique: fifty-five

Pastel drawing of Martiniquaise feeling fearful and resigned

Jean Hess

La Catastrophe de la Martinique











Here it is, admiral; I have exposed your “views from deepest reflections”. I address to the “hearts of steel” your appeal for “bringing forth the New Jerusalem”.

Since I cite from the documents of the admiral, this as well:





Order of the Day


The Commodore, commander-in-chief of the Naval Division of the Atlantic:

Attach to the Order of the Day of the Naval Division, this testimony of satisfaction, which he is pleased to address to the commanders, officers, petty-officers, and sailors of the Suchet, of the defense stationed at Fort-de-France, and of the Jouffroy, for their good conduct in the course of rescue operations, of evacuation, and of resupplying, in which, from the 8th to the 22nd of May, they have participated, following the catastrophe at Saint-Pierre.

The orders by telegraph of the admiral and the commander-in-chief: “Bring relief by all means possible”, could not have been better understood or better executed.

From one end of Martinique to the other, united to the Navy by so many memories and sympathies reciprocated; in all this colony so dear to France, more beloved than ever, which has come to be decimated by the most striking and the most inconceivable disaster, with one voice is recognized and celebrated what all the French sailors present at Fort-de-France have spontaneously done in these unforgettable days.

Under the energetic direction of Commander Le Bris of the Suchet, by the side of their brothers of the army, of elite citizens whose names are on everyone’s lips; by the side of the Danish cruiser Valkyrien, with the steamer Pouyer-Quertier, they have, by their audacious initiative, their tenacious devotion, their indefatigable ardor, supported by their measureless compassion for the unfortunates, proved time and again how much they carry in their hearts the highest feelings of duty, of all duties.

Time and again they have shown how much, whatever the trials, the Nation can count on them, how they are worthy of her love and her confidence, to what extent they are penetrated by the virile and fundamental military virtues.





The Commodore, commander-in-chief, requests the commanders of the Suchet, of the permanent defense; and of the Jouffroy, to address to him, by the date of 5th June, in the regulation form, the final outlines of propositions which they believe must establish favorably those officers, petty-officers, and sailors, who have particularly distinguished themselves. The councils of promotion are meeting in a special session, before the date above. A copy of the present Order of the Day will be pinned to the minutes.


Aboard the Tage, Fort-de-France, 26 May 1902,

The Commodore, commander-in-chief of the Naval Division of the Atlantic,





N. b. The present order will be read before the assembled crews and posted in the batteries for twenty-four hours.


The army has also their Orders of the Day, as to felicitations. Here is a note from l’Opinion that summarized them:


In the catastrophe that has befallen us, all have done their duty. We endeavor here to recognize those acts of devotion brought to our awareness, and to express, in the name of our country, our admiration for all these valiant hearts. But it is with a patriotic satisfaction that we record the names of the military personnel who have more particularly distinguished themselves. Our army, in fact, has given its full cooperation, under its chief, the sympathetic Colonel Dain, who spares nothing, to the ordinary enlisted men, who, knapsack on back, have guarded our stores and patrolled our streets.

We especially cite:


Captain Evanno, of the colonial artillery, who saved the cash of the Bank, notably assisted by Sergeant Bœuf and Private David;

Lieutenant Roussel, who, at the Carbet, buried more than 250 corpses, and in the midst of the successive torments that have fallen on this unlucky town, has reassured the population, and by his courage revived them;

Lieutenant Lemaire, who, under the direction of the pharmacist Rozé, presided over the burial of corpses by the soldiers, at the Carbet on May the 10th;

Lieutenant Teissier, who distinguished himself, on that very day of 8th May, in going to bring back the wounded at the Carbet;

Brigadier of Artillery Fress, who has resupplied Fond-Saint-Denis, and saved from the worst dangers the family of Albéric Godissard, at the Morne Rouge;

The gunners Vaillant and Tribut, who, the day following the catastrophe; that is, the 9th of May, left Colson, having crossed the whole of Saint-Pierre still burning, and brought back one of the wounded.

All our felicitations to these brave men.




La Catastrophe de la Martinique

Public domain photo of candles for Martinique deadSee more on Catastrophe page
Catastrophe: fifty-six














 (1902, Jean Hess, La Catastrophe de la Martinique; 2018, translation, Stephanie Foster)



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