[CÉLINE] Capitaine Schneider & Colonel Blacque-Belair

Two autograph cards signed (Ledringhem, 2 & 27 Dec. 1914)
Autograph cards signed « Schneider » and « Colonel Blacque-Belair »

« I was happy to have been able to get your son the medal he deserved less for his wound than for his courage »

EUR 3.900,-
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Fact sheet

[CÉLINE] Capitaine Schneider & Colonel Blacque-Belair

Two autograph cards signed [Correspondence of the Armies of the Republic] :

Autograph card-letter signed « Schneider » to Louis Destouches
« Ledringhem (North of France), 2dn December 1914 », 1 p. small in-8°
Autograph address on recto:
« [M]al des Logis Destouches du 12e Cuirassiers / Hôpital auxiliaire n°5 Hazebrouck »

Autograph card-letter signed « Colonel Blacque-Belair » to Monsieur [Fernand] Destouches
N.p, « 27.12.1914 », 1 p. small in-8°
Autograph address on recto:
« [M]onsieur Destouches / 11 rue Marsollier / Paris »
Some stains, postmarks

Two important testimonies relating to the wound and the military medal of Marshal Destouches

Capitaine Schneider to Louis Destouches
« Mon Cher Destouches, je reçois à l’instant votre lettre de l’hôpital d’Hazebrouck et je suis désolé que votre blessure soit aussi grave ! Espérons néanmoins que les conséquences ne seront pas ce que vous craignez, et qu’après la guerre, en vous soignant, vous pourrez vous rétablir complètement. Je le souhaite bien vivement pour vos parents et votre situation. J’ai donné de vos nouvelles au Colonel et au docteur. Je serai toujours très heureux d’en avoir, – et de meilleures !
Au revoir, mon cher Destouches, et croyez-moi toujours bien affectueusement vôtre.
Schneider »

Colonel Blacque-Belair to Fernand Destouches
« Monsieur Je vous remercie de votre aimable lettre. J’ai été content d’avoir pu faire obtenir à votre fils la médaille qu’il méritait moins pour sa blessure que pour son courage. Qu’il prenne tout son temps pour se guérir. La campagne n’est pas finie.
Veuillez croire à mes meilleurs sentiments.
Colonel Blacque-Belair »

27 October 1914: a pivotal date
Mobilised since 20 October 1914 around the village of Poelkapelle, about ten kilometres north of Ypres, Marshal Louis Destouches volunteered on the 27th to leave at the head of a small platoon. On almost perfectly flat landscapes where bullets could travel long distances, Destouches was wounded for the first time, thrown against a tree by the blast of a bursting shell. Continuing his mission, he was then hit by a ricochet bullet, fracturing the bone of his right arm. He will have lifelong after-effects of both injuries: neuritis and partial disability of the right arm, Meniere’s vertigo and permanent noises in the ear canal. Céline evokes this episode in the first lines of Guerre (Gallimard, 2022): “I have always slept like this in the atrocious noise since December 14. I caught the war in my head. She’s locked in my head.”

Captain Schneider commanded the second squadron of the 12th Cuirassiers to which Louis Destouches had been assigned at the time of his enlistment in May 1912. The officer knew Fernand Destouches, Louis’ father, and kept him regularly informed of his son’s conduct and morale.

Henri Blacque-Belair had just taken command of the 12th Cuirassiers in December 1914. Coming from a large family, he was a well-known figure in the army and Parisian society. He will remain for Céline, who probably only approached him from afar, a prestigious and almost tutelary figure. It was through him that Private Destouches was awarded, on 25 November 1914, the Military Medal awarded to him by Joffre, General Commanding in Chief. The mention reads: “In liaison between an Infantry Regiment and its brigade, spontaneously offered to carry under heavy fire an order that the infantry liaison officers hesitated to transmit. Carried this order and was seriously wounded during his mission. »
In his biography Céline (Gallimard, 2011), Henri Godard reminds us that “there is not one of the novels written after 1945 in which wounds and medals, witnesses of a new life begun […], are not recalled and used as elements of his defense.”

Very scarce documents

Vente d’autographes, Drouot, 5 juin 1992, n°29, collections Danière et Patrice Campesato

Lettres, éd. Henri Godard et Jean-Paul Louis, Pléiade, 2009, n°14-42b et 14-42f – Céline, éd. Henri Godard, 2011, p. 66-69