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Europe/Other : 1960 Letter from French parachutiste in Algeria

 

Author
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Bobstamp
Members Picture


15 Nov 2014
06:15:37pm
I recently purchased from an eBay dealer in Belgium a cover posted by French parachutiste (paratrooper) Erhard Jacky from Batna, Algiers, on December 4, 1960, two and half years before the end of the Algerian War. Here are images of the front and back:

Image Not Found

Soldiers in a combat zone did not have to pay postage; the “F.M.” free-frank marking stands for France Militaire. The “A.F.M.” in the cancellation indicia stands for The Army of Africa (French Armée d’Afrique) was an unofficial but commonly used term for those portions of the French Army recruited from or normally stationed in French North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia) from 1830 until the end of the Algerian War in 1962.

The parachutistes, many of whom had fought in Vietnam during the First Indochina War, played a significant part in the Algerian War, defeating the FLN (Algerian National Liberation Front) in the Battle of Algiers in 1956-57, and keeping FLN on the run through their rapid deployment by helicopter. (The Algerian War was the first war in which helicopters were used in combat operations, a practice emulated by the Americans in the Vietnam War. Not that the helicopters helped the French a great deal in Algeria; the war ended after eight years in independence for Algeria, just as the First Indochina War ended in defeat for France at the famous battle of Dien Bien Phu.)

The cover is somewhat unusual in that it contains the original letter, clearly printed in ink, and the fact that the letter contains personal comments about the war and Algeria itself. Soldiers' mail rarely reveals anything of interest to the military historian. Here are scanned images of the letter:

Image Not Found

Image Not Found

I have attempted to translate the letter from the original French to English, using Google Translate and what I hope is common sense. I certainly cannot be considered to be bilingual (thanks to the failure of the schools I attended to accept languages other than English as important!), so my translation may not be very accurate. I’d be very pleased if any French speakers can provide a better translation.

Here’s a transcription of the letter in French:

Batna le 3. 12 60

C'est en ce Samedi qui je prend mon courage pour vous donnez de mes nouvelles.

Vous m'excuserez de ne pas vous avoir ecrire depuis mon arriveé en Algerie je remettais de jour en jour.

Pour moi la Santé et tres bonnes. Quand au moral il y a des jours il n'est pas toujours bon.

J'espére que ma lettre vous trouvera de même en bonnes Santé:

Voici deux mois et demie que je suis à Batna. C'est notre base arriére ainsi j'espere de passée encore le mois de Décembre. Car içi je suis bien tranquille. La journée je roule pour notre Camp ainsi quand arrive le soir je suis comptant de rejoindre ma petite chambre dont je suis seule.

Içi nous mangeons tres bien mais nous sommes rationnée. La vie et tres chére en Algerie. Surtout les produits venant de France.

Je me demande pourquoi Tous cés Europeines peuvent resté vivre parmi: Tous cette mauvais races.

Il faut y être pour y voir ce salle pays tout ça ne vaut pas notre pays. «La France»

La seule chose qui est bien, c'est d'avoir tout les jours le soleil. Enfin moi je demande une chose c'est de terminée mon service militaire le plutôt possible. Mais Jai encore 11 mois à Faire j'éspere que le temps qui me reste passera assez vite.

Je sais par Mes parents, que cette fin d année ètait tres mauvais vous avait eu beaucoup de pluies ainsi maintenant le froid a du Faire sont apparition. Cars l'lhiver n'est pas loin.

Je sais par Mes parents, que cette fin d année ètait tres mauvais vous avait eu beaucoup de pluies ainsi maintenant le froid a du Faire sont apparition. Cars l'lhiver n'est pas loin.

hier jai reçu un manclats de mes parents ainsi je vous remercie pour les 10NF que vous m'avez donnee.

Sur ce je termine ma petite lettre, car je ne vois plus rien a vous dire je vous quitte.

Bien amicalement.

Bon Baisers, Jacky


•••

This is my translation into English:

Batna 3/12/60

Madam Champeil,

This Saturday that I found the courage to give you my news.

Forgive me not writing; I have procrastinated every day since arriving in Algeria.

My health is very good. My morale these days is not always good. I hope that my letter finds you in good health as well.

I have been in Batna for two and a half months. This is our rear base, and I hope to spend the month of December here. By day I drive to our camp, and when the evening comes I can’t wait to get back to my little room, where I live alone.

We eat very well here, but food is rationed. Life is very expensive in Algeria, especially products from France.

I wonder how all the Europeans can live here among these evil people. You have to be here to see that nothing in this country is worth our sacrifice for France. The only thing that is good is having all-day sunshine.

Finally I ask but one thing, to complete my military service as soon as possible. But I've another 11 months to go. I hope the rest of my time will pass quickly enough.

I know from my parents that this year end was very bad. You had a lot of rain and now the cold of winter is not far.

Yesterday I received a money order from my parents and I thank you for 10NF* you have sent.

This concludes my little letter because I do not see anything to tell you except good-bye.

Sincerely,

Good kissing, Jacky


---

*New Francs

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Author/Postings
Members Picture
Bobstamp

15 Nov 2014
06:15:37pm

I recently purchased from an eBay dealer in Belgium a cover posted by French parachutiste (paratrooper) Erhard Jacky from Batna, Algiers, on December 4, 1960, two and half years before the end of the Algerian War. Here are images of the front and back:

Image Not Found

Soldiers in a combat zone did not have to pay postage; the “F.M.” free-frank marking stands for France Militaire. The “A.F.M.” in the cancellation indicia stands for The Army of Africa (French Armée d’Afrique) was an unofficial but commonly used term for those portions of the French Army recruited from or normally stationed in French North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia) from 1830 until the end of the Algerian War in 1962.

The parachutistes, many of whom had fought in Vietnam during the First Indochina War, played a significant part in the Algerian War, defeating the FLN (Algerian National Liberation Front) in the Battle of Algiers in 1956-57, and keeping FLN on the run through their rapid deployment by helicopter. (The Algerian War was the first war in which helicopters were used in combat operations, a practice emulated by the Americans in the Vietnam War. Not that the helicopters helped the French a great deal in Algeria; the war ended after eight years in independence for Algeria, just as the First Indochina War ended in defeat for France at the famous battle of Dien Bien Phu.)

The cover is somewhat unusual in that it contains the original letter, clearly printed in ink, and the fact that the letter contains personal comments about the war and Algeria itself. Soldiers' mail rarely reveals anything of interest to the military historian. Here are scanned images of the letter:

Image Not Found

Image Not Found

I have attempted to translate the letter from the original French to English, using Google Translate and what I hope is common sense. I certainly cannot be considered to be bilingual (thanks to the failure of the schools I attended to accept languages other than English as important!), so my translation may not be very accurate. I’d be very pleased if any French speakers can provide a better translation.

Here’s a transcription of the letter in French:

Batna le 3. 12 60

C'est en ce Samedi qui je prend mon courage pour vous donnez de mes nouvelles.

Vous m'excuserez de ne pas vous avoir ecrire depuis mon arriveé en Algerie je remettais de jour en jour.

Pour moi la Santé et tres bonnes. Quand au moral il y a des jours il n'est pas toujours bon.

J'espére que ma lettre vous trouvera de même en bonnes Santé:

Voici deux mois et demie que je suis à Batna. C'est notre base arriére ainsi j'espere de passée encore le mois de Décembre. Car içi je suis bien tranquille. La journée je roule pour notre Camp ainsi quand arrive le soir je suis comptant de rejoindre ma petite chambre dont je suis seule.

Içi nous mangeons tres bien mais nous sommes rationnée. La vie et tres chére en Algerie. Surtout les produits venant de France.

Je me demande pourquoi Tous cés Europeines peuvent resté vivre parmi: Tous cette mauvais races.

Il faut y être pour y voir ce salle pays tout ça ne vaut pas notre pays. «La France»

La seule chose qui est bien, c'est d'avoir tout les jours le soleil. Enfin moi je demande une chose c'est de terminée mon service militaire le plutôt possible. Mais Jai encore 11 mois à Faire j'éspere que le temps qui me reste passera assez vite.

Je sais par Mes parents, que cette fin d année ètait tres mauvais vous avait eu beaucoup de pluies ainsi maintenant le froid a du Faire sont apparition. Cars l'lhiver n'est pas loin.

Je sais par Mes parents, que cette fin d année ètait tres mauvais vous avait eu beaucoup de pluies ainsi maintenant le froid a du Faire sont apparition. Cars l'lhiver n'est pas loin.

hier jai reçu un manclats de mes parents ainsi je vous remercie pour les 10NF que vous m'avez donnee.

Sur ce je termine ma petite lettre, car je ne vois plus rien a vous dire je vous quitte.

Bien amicalement.

Bon Baisers, Jacky


•••

This is my translation into English:

Batna 3/12/60

Madam Champeil,

This Saturday that I found the courage to give you my news.

Forgive me not writing; I have procrastinated every day since arriving in Algeria.

My health is very good. My morale these days is not always good. I hope that my letter finds you in good health as well.

I have been in Batna for two and a half months. This is our rear base, and I hope to spend the month of December here. By day I drive to our camp, and when the evening comes I can’t wait to get back to my little room, where I live alone.

We eat very well here, but food is rationed. Life is very expensive in Algeria, especially products from France.

I wonder how all the Europeans can live here among these evil people. You have to be here to see that nothing in this country is worth our sacrifice for France. The only thing that is good is having all-day sunshine.

Finally I ask but one thing, to complete my military service as soon as possible. But I've another 11 months to go. I hope the rest of my time will pass quickly enough.

I know from my parents that this year end was very bad. You had a lot of rain and now the cold of winter is not far.

Yesterday I received a money order from my parents and I thank you for 10NF* you have sent.

This concludes my little letter because I do not see anything to tell you except good-bye.

Sincerely,

Good kissing, Jacky


---

*New Francs

Like 
1 Member
likes this post.
Login to Like.

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