Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Macready appendix

(to follow from The not-so-good and not-so-great, number 16, yet a further addendum)

Malcolm's distinguished correspondent, who provoked the renewed interest in Sir Gordon Macready, mentioned that Macready's wife was "Elizabeth de Noailles", of French aristocratic descent.

Well, say that again: because the surname has connotations, as well as:
  • a Winterhalter portrait, now lost, and one by de Laszlo (not of the same person, obviously, if only for reasons of chronology);
  • a Rodin bust in the Met in New York (which does have a link to one of the previous subjects);
  • and the first woman to be a Commander of the Legion of Honor, the first into the Royal Belgian Academy of French Language and Literature (again, a connected identity).
Those proved to be misdirections (though there is a relation in all to Elisabeth).

A bit of rootling round discovered that Elisabeth Pauline Sabine Marie de Noailles was born on 27th October, 1898, at Naintenon; and died on 7th December, 1969, at Paris. On 23rd November, 1920, in Paris, she married Gordon Nevil Macready, later Lieutenant General, and 2nd Baronet. He was born on 5th April, 1891, at Kandy in what was then Ceylon; and died on 17th October, 1956, at Paris.

That's for the family tree huggers.

So, Malcolm (who has cuddled several familial shrubs in his time) went looking for more about this lady.

She was the youngest of three children born to the Duc de Noailles. The eldest of those three, and the only son, because of one detail suddenly interested Malcolm. He was, it says here, Jean Maurice Paul Jules de Noailles, the Duc d'Ayen, born on 18th September, 1893, and died on 14th April, 1945 , at Bergen-Belsen.

Noticed it?

Malcolm did (and gave you a clue in that image, above); and had a small frisson.

First that date: Bergen-Belsen was liberated on 15th April, 1945.

Stop. Think. Anyone who has not sat through the nearly-twelve minutes of Richard Dimbleby's Home Service broadcast of 19th April, 1945 is hereby challenged to do so. And remain dry-eyed and not choked.

It took Malcolm some while to track down a French wikipedia entry for Jean Maurice Paul Jules de Noailles. It translates something like this:
A great sportsman. He was world champion at pigeon-shooting and several times French champion. A resistance member, he was arrested by the Gestapo on 22 Jan 1942, in Paris, following an anonymous tip-off. He was tortured and interned at [85 Avenue] Foch [the Gestapo headquarters] in Paris, then at Compi├Ęgne. He was deported to Buchenwald-Flossenburg, later transferred to Oranienburg and finally to Bergen-Belsen, where he died a few days before the end of the war. His remains were never found.

Another reference would indicate that Jean de Noailles' son, Adrien-Maurice, also died in Belsen. The title, for what it is worth, passed to a cousin, who died only in January of this year, aged 103.
Lest we forget

There is a photograph of the memorial stone at Belsen, for Jean de Noailles, Duc d'Aven (see left).

The municipality of Cannes then renamed an avenue, in the north-west of the city, avenue Jean de Noailles. Jean de Noailles' father attended the small ceremony. Sphere: Related Content

1 comment:

Bergen Belsen said...

My grandfather was a liberating British soldier at Bergen Belsen and I have visited what remains of the camp in recent years.

I admit to shedding a tear and I prayed for those who perished at the hands of Hitler's regime.

This shall not and will not ever be forgotten.

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