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A French captain receives Japanese delegations to France from 1917 to 1920

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Born on August 13, 1878, François Nicolas, Charles le Bleu was admitted to the Special Military School in 1899, he left as lieutenant at the age of 25 in 1903.

He was promoted captain in 1914 and was assigned to the general staff of an infantry brigade at the time of the war. He then conducts night reconnaissance near enemy lines in order to define the location of the trenches and map them. During one of these recognitions, he was seriously injured by three shrapnel on 14 June 1915 in front of Angres (Pas de Calais).


He was made a Knight of the Legion of Honour (Journal Officiel of 21/07/1915) and decorated with the cross of war with a silver star and a palm. From then on, he was an invalid of war and was successively attached to the general staff of the military government of Paris (by ministerial decree of 26 November 1915) under the orders of General Maunoury until 1916, then (by presidential decree of 18 January 1917) General Dubail until 1918.
He was finally attached (ministerial decree of 27 March 1920) to the general staff of General Nivelle, a member of the superior council of the war.
He was released from military service on 1 November 1924, and died on 10 March 1963 at the age of 85.

During his career at the General Staff, he was involved in the installation, accommodation and security of foreign delegations at the Allied Conference in July 1917 and the Paris Peace Conference (January to August 1919) which will prepare the signing of the Treaty of Versailles signed on 28 June 1919 and promulgated on 10 January 1920.
On September 12, 1920, he was made 5th class of the rising sun for services rendered. Very curiously, his hierarchical superior General Nivelle receives the same decoration... and especially the same rank: 5th class.!!!

It must be deduced from this that the nickname "butcher" of it, following the tragic affair of the "chemin des dames" battle  and the mutinies which followed from it were not at all of the taste and in the mind of the Japanese, it seems probable. The fact that General Dubail was made 1st class of the order of the sacred treasure seems to well corroborate this hypothesis


Below are some pictures (source: Gallica, bibliothèque nationale de France) of the various Japanese delegations from 1917 to 1920:

1/ Presentation of a sword of honour by the Emperor of Japan Taisho, presented by his ambassador in France Keishiro Matsui, at the Grand Palace (2 photos) in Paris on November 29, 1917 (during the war time) to commemorate the Battle of Verdun (end of the Battle of Verdun on December 19, 1916) and raise the city of Verdun to the dignity of a martyred city

2°/ peace conference (January 1919 to January 1920) in front of Trianon Palace on May 7, 1919 arrival of delegations
3°/ Peace Conference the Marquis of Saiongï, representative of Japan
4°/ Peace Conference, Baron Matsui (ambassador) leaves the quay of Orsay


5°/ Members of the Japanese delegation
6°/ French protection around the hosting of the Japanese delegation





Le Bleu 8.JPG

4 Le bleu 4.1.jpg

1 capitaine Le Bleu (3).JPG

2 capitaine Le Bleu (2).JPG

3 capitaine Le Bleu (1).JPG

8 Sabre d'honneur offert à Verdun 29 nov 1917 ambass. Japon 2 M.Matsui.JPEG

9 Sabre d'honneur offert à Verdun 29 nov 1917 ambass. Japon M.Matsui.JPEG

10 conférence de la paix devant Trianon Palace [1 boulevard de la Reine à Versailles 7 mai 1919.JPEG

12 Conférence de la Paix le marquis de Saïongï, représentant du Japon.JPEG

13 Conférence de la Paix, le baron Matsui quitte le quai d'Orsay.JPEG

14 M. Keishiro Matsui ambassadeur japonais à Paris, un délégué japonais à la conférence de la paix.JPEG

15 Conférence des alliés, délégués japonais [29 novembre 1917, à Paris].JPEG

16 Conférence militaire des Alliés au grand Quartier général le lieutenant colonel japonais Nagai.JPEG

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Bonjour Patout 🙂

Excellent ! It may be of interest that the "Médaille d'Honneur" the good captain received was of the highest possible class : he was awarded the rare gold class of the Interior Ministry's Medal of Honour for courage and dedication. It would perhaps be interesting to know which "difficult events in several counties in the months of February, March, April and May 1906" caused such awards to be made ...

Link to the entry in the Journal Officiel de la République Française : https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k6542783t/f2.image



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Hi Hendrik

Thanks a lot for this very interesting link........... and thank you also for opening to me this new research trail about :

"difficult events in several counties in the months of February, March, April and May 1906" 
very cordially




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  • 3 weeks later...

Nice group but the photos laisse beaucoup à désirer .

Could you make hq close-ups of rising sun (obverse/reverse) and documents at a right angle? 

Any marks? 

Who is the manufacturer of LoH? Arthus Bertrand?  

As a compensation for the efforts here comes my recent acquisition. 

LoH for japanese artillery captain (later major general) from 1886 ;) 




Edited by JapanX
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Hi Nick,

Very interesting document of L.o.H. concerning the very first Franco-Japanese mission, start of a long collaboration between France and Japan

About my legion of honor and rising sun, the legion of honor has no manufacturer’s mark and the rising sun has no mark (I have looked carefully... nothing !) both medals are unfortunately very common.









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Thanks for the additional photos :beer: 

Real little treasure these documents. 

Only the reverse of rising sun is missing (I am asking for these extra photos only because these early groups are pretty rare and quite important for dating of orders).



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Hi Nick


Here are the two-sided photos of the medal I hope it will help you for dating order.

I have some tamatebako miyake boxes but unfortunately most of the medals have no markings, except the ones I spotted. 

The 3rd class is in a standard case but can be era Taisho? what do you think? the medal has a M punch.

the 6th class medal (3rd photo, bottom left) next to the 3rd class medal with standard case seems to me the oldest of all, maybe Meiji era?









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Thank you for these extra photos :beer: 

3rd class rising sun with M looks like it came from early 30s (cases with this style of kanji were in use until 30s).

Yes, 6th class is a pretty early one. 

Exellent collection ;)



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