In the spring of 2012 a crewman’s uniform was contributed to the exhibit Attraction of the Poles by Pourquoi-Pas? crewman Thibault de Rugy. This wonderful gift was officially presented by Jean-Claude Lacaille. A portion of his dedication speech is here below:
„Thibault de Rugy was conscripted into the navy in 1934. When he saw the Pourquois-Pas? in Cherbourg harbor he requested that he be assigned to the 1935 expedition. His request was granted and he sailed with her to Iceland and Greenland that summer. He returned to Rouen in September of 1935 and finished his tour of duty in Cherbourg. Later, he was ordained a Catholic priest in Montaure, where he met Charcot’s long-time secretary, Marthe Emmanuelle. Soon after, he converted to Protestantism.
I met him in the 1980s when he was the president of the organization that sailed the Pourquois-Pas? We were close friends by 1988 and he gave me the uniform and cap he’d kept since 1935 so I could care for it. From 1988 – 2012, I preserved this memorabilia. In 1997 there was a fire but the uniform escaped mostly unscathed, with only minor charring on the collar. The cap had been on display at the Polar Exploration Museum of Paul-Emile Voctor in Prémanon since 1990.
Thibault de Rugy passed away on June 1, 2005 in Albon, Ardeche. I had visited him upon what he called “his mountain” upon his request because he wanted to hear the large bourdon bell of the cathedral in Rouen. The bourdon had not sounded since WWII and in 1999 it was repaired. When it was dedicated, I recorded the event so that he could have the joy of listening to the bell whenever he wished. His uniform has been included in various exhibitions based on Charcot’s life, so it has often aided in keeping this important period of history alive. I have all confidence that if Thibault looked down from heaven, he would be very pleased to see that his uniform is on display in the Charcot museum in Iceland. I don’t think there is a better way to show him respect in a more natural way.“