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Tribute to those of the Submarine Minerve

Poem by Jacky Harlaux for Jean-Paul Krintz

Aboard the Minerve, they left one day

Without knowing that the return would never come.

They were fifty two sailors of all ranks

When Toulon saw them move away from the harbour.


From simple red braid to officers' gold

They had the pride of being submariners.

Carrying like a flag the tarpaulin which mentions

With a captioned ribbon, the name of the 800 tons


They had parents, friends, lovers

Whose unhappy heart cried out for help,

Hoping that suddenly a sailor calls them

To put an end to the sad news.


Yet the phone remained silent

Without drying up the tears that flowed from their eyes.

They've known the time when hopes fade

When nothing left to find their trace.


We have said so much about their disappearance

Without ever answering the questions.

We know that they are there in the Mediterranean

And it will soon be the fiftieth year.


Often, I think of you, friend Alain Guérin

You the butler, aboard the submarine

Who for one more day, had kept the place

When everything was planned for me to replace you..


You who pushed back your keel the next day

Rather than staying on the ground far from friends

And who asked to be on the trip

To celebrate your departure with the crew.


I remember you as a laughing boy,

  Of you, who always arrived in a good mood

In the officer's quarters, to help in the service.

Whether in the room, at the bar or in the office

Of course I think of you, of course I think of them,

I tell myself that sometimes very little is enough,

Only a departure, a return, a chance, a desire

To change the length of the path of our lives.


It was in 68, a very long time ago

They died in winter at spring age.

They didn't have the time, they didn't have the chance

To have a future, to have descendants.


I see them on You tube and on friends from before

Where Mr. Jean-Paul Krintz, mechanic, survivor

Not being on board during the crossing,

Pays homage to the friends anchored in his thoughts.


On board the Minerve, they came back happy

Without knowing that fate would hound them.

Surely they were already getting into their heads

The bars of  "Chicago" where they would party.


It is this January 27 which has since left

My 3 years of navy forever bereaved.

And I come in my turn to salute the memory

Of those who entered history sadly.


December 2016

Sous-Marin Minerve

Alain Guérin - Hotel Master of the Minerva Officers

Photo transmitted by Dominique Collemant

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