Pierre Mesle

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My maternal great-grandfather was drafted as a lieutenant in 1939 after France declared war on Germany.

He was taken as a prisoner of war and sent to a POW camp where he caught bronchitis. The German doctor of the camp examined him. My great-grandfather told him that he had two babies (my grandmother and her brother) and that he needed to go home to look after them. Luckily, the doctor was a Malgré-nous from Alsace, enrolled by force by the German Army after France was defeated. The doctor made a false report, stating that my great-grandfather suffered from tuberculosis, a very contagious disease. Therefore, he was sent home.

My paternal great-grandfather could not be drafted in the army in 1939 since he had 4 young children that he had to take care of. He lived in Rennes until 1943. The city suffered from regular aerial bombings of the Allies. His neighbours’ house was destroyed in 1943 and his cousin died when the train station got bombed. 807 civilians died there during the 4 years of occupation. After that, he went to live in a small village on the northern shore of Brittany that was liberated during the summer of 1944. He made friends with an American soldier from California who was stationed for a couple of weeks in the village and who became a lifelong friend. They visited each other several times after the war.

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My maternal great-great-grandfather Armand Coquelu, sitting in the middle, with his two brothers Marcel (on the left), and Georges (on the right, chasseur à pied and medic during the Battle of Verdun).

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Demobilization certificate of my maternal great-great-grandfather Armand Coquelu.

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My maternal great-great-grandfather Armand Coquelu during a field mission.

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My maternal great-great-grandfather Armand Coquelu with his unit (in the back, standing up, on the left)

My paternal grandfather graduated in 1956 and was drafted to participate in the Algerian War.

He was a second lieutenant, in charge of an artillery section. At first, he was stationed in Nîmes, waiting for the order to embark for Egypt during the Suez crisis. His section was never sent. He then served in Algeria for three years before being demobilized.

I have lived in different countries such as Morocco, Great Britain, the United States, the Czech Republic and Germany where I developed an interest in foreign cultures and in the history of foreign countries. I therefore decided to study international relations and political science for three years. Then, I researched on American History for two more years at the university, one year in France and one at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. My topic of research was partially about the CIA covert operations in Southern Africa in the 1970s and the development of private security companies through the participation of US Vietnam veterans to the conflicts in this area. I am very passionate about the history of American foreign policy.

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My paternal grandfather Lucien Meslé, in Garrigues Camp, Nîmes, France in 1956, waiting to go to Egypt.
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the section led by my paternal grandfather Lucien Meslé near Mostaganem, Algeria in July 1957, on a surveillance mission to protect farmers during the harvest period.
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My paternal grandfather Lucien Meslé in observation during training.