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Information of relatives

Notify families as soon as possible

The Admiralty immediately took the decision to urgently inform the families of the members of the missing submarine. Obviously, the news must not reach them through the media, which will be quickly informed.​

In 1968 few people had a telephone (15% of households), television was not in all homes (60%).

It is from 8 am that the first families are notified.Toulon begins to be crisscrossed by cars which, with loudspeakers, ask, without further details, sailors on leave to urgently return to their post.It is urgent to warn  relatives to prevent them from learning the news by accident or the media.

Family visits

As is customary in such circumstances, two men of the same rank as the missing person go to the address of relatives "to be notified in the event of an accident".

Bernard de Truchis, former second in command of the Minerva and future commander of the Eurydice, will testify: 

éI was informed of the accident by telephone in a laconic way, "the accident is certain, we must contact the families, and leave them little hope of finding them".. A 10h. I phoned VINOT for details.

"The MINERVE submarine has been missing since last night, we have lost contact since, I warn you to contact the families you know well."

So I made contact during the day with my families and from that day on I only took care of the families, not asking myself much about the circumstances and the causes".

Many people today still remember his help and support, starting with myself.

Sometimes it's a young sailor barely 20 years old, automatically designated, crushed by emotion, not knowing how to announce such news, who rings at a door.,  quickly warns a stunned wife and leaves just as suddenly without adding anything.

For married sailors, it is therefore both parents and wives who are notified. For those who simply had a fiancée, unknown to the Navy, it is through the media or their relatives that they will be informed.

Many sailors, who are single, have parents who live in towns where there is no representative of the Navy. In this case, it is the Mayors who are responsible for notifying the families. They receive a telegram like the one reproduced below, which we can see is worrying without specifying anything. But it's a Sunday and they can't always be reached andsome will learn of the disappearance of their son or brother through the news on the radio or television.They will then wait, paralyzed by worry, for the visit of the one who will confirm to them the tragedy that is affecting them. 

The wait will also be cruel for the parents of those who could, or should, have been on the Minerve. They will remain in doubt until the one they don't know is alive gives them news.

Jean-Paul Krintz, one of the sailors "survived"; from the Minerve was one of those sailors who went to inform the families, he testifies:


"On Monday 29, I was assigned a vehicle with driver, in order to visit the families, to comfort them, me, giving them hope, because I believed in it hard as iron, when it was screwed up.

The second week  was of the same kind, except that I was under the orders of the former 02 of Minerva Bernard de Truchis de Lays, who announced the bad news to him. I still have in me the vision of these poor people looking at me with questioning eyes (but the young quartermaster lied to us, gave us false hopes).

I cannot forget this trauma caused in these painful moments. I almost threw myself under a train, but reason won out anyway."

personal memories


Personally, I remember perfectly this morning of Sunday, January 28.My mother isn't worried, she's used to my father's staggered returns for service issues that he never details.

In the middle of the morning the doorbell rings,  I rush behind my mother who is going to open it, they are  two Navy officers. I recognize one, Georges Albatro, a friend of my parents.

They accompany him to the living room where they tell him the terrible news. Ma mother collapses. I wonder what is happening and in my turn, in tears, she tells me directly "Your Dad is dead, his submarine has sunk."

She then warns the family, some of whom nevertheless learn the news by radio or television.

Subsequently, many journalists will seek to take pictures of us, to obtain interviews which quickly lead my mother to withdraw us from school to go and live with friends. We won't be going back there again.

In Brest, other journalists will try to enter my grandmother's house, going so far as to jam their foot in her door, to get photos of the missing commander's mother.

Fortunately, sailors know the meaning of the word solidarity,and the friends of the Navy will take turns to help us or even protect us against this public curiosity. We were accommodated with other submariners, out of sight. 

Jacques Priard

Standard telegram - here intended for the family of Jacques Priard, intended for the Town Hall to inform the parents of the disappearance of Minerva.

Some articles from 1968 relating the way the drama was experienced

Article Martine et Marcel Coustal.jpg
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