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ralstona

Medaille d"Honneur 1st Class Silver, Rare colonial issue Lifesaving medal

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Recent pick up.

Medaille d"Honneur 1st class in Silver, Ministry of Marine and Colonies 

Embossed on Reverse "Incendie du 15-16 Aout 1879" (Fire of 15-16 August 1879)

 

When I bought it I had no information on the details and neither did the seller.  Still I sort of knew there was a decent chance of narrowing this one down.

My research started with what I knew.  A fire in 1879.  

I reasoned that a "Marine and Colonies" medal for a Fire was likely for a colony and not a marine issue.  Even a fire on a ship would not  be called an "Incendie".  

Then the question was ... how many fires in French colonies could have occurred on August 15-16, 1879?  Not many, right?

Well I was right.  I found just one.  The New York Times reported a ... "Violent fire that devoured 24 houses along with the ministry of the Interior, the Navy and the Post Office which were totally destroyed."

Location: St. Pierre et Miquelon (France's last remaining North American colony.  A tiny outpost near Newfoundland, home to the France's Cod fishing interests).

Then I found this in the "Annuaire de Iles Saint-Pierre et Miquelon" published in 1900...  

https://books.google.com/books?id=kdE-AAAAYAAJ&pg=PA175&lpg=PA175&dq="incendie+du+15-16+Aout+1879"&source=bl&ots=8LYfQA_WIl&sig=_a8ZaMhEQkKGGlZVXokC9sCH-WY&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi9_pKS_5XdAhWKt1kKHdujCaAQ6AEwAHoECAAQAQ#v=onepage&q="incendie du 15-16 Aout 1879"&f=false

"Recompenses Honorifiques"

"Medaille de 1re Classe En Argent" 

"A l'occasion de l'incendie du 15-16 Aout 1879"

Hacala, Sergent-Major du Pompiers

Marsoliau, calfat (caulker)

 

Bingo!  

I suppose I'll never know which of these two men earned this medal or why it was embossed with only the incident and not the name too.  (Or why the "Annuaire" only printed their last names).  Hacalas and Marsoliaus still live on St. Pierre et Miquelon today.  Hacala is a common name there, of Basque origin (as many names are on St. Pierre).

 

miqelon.jpg

miqelon2.jpg

Edited by ralstona

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