Weekly photo challenge: Journey

On-board, en route to or from the Middle East, 1941 or 1942

When I chose this photo of soldiers on-board a ship on its way to or from the Middle East in 1941 or 1942, I noticed, for the first time, the hat shadow.  And then I thought about Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and The Little Prince Perhaps Saint-Exupéry had seen soldiers’ hats when he was in North Africa in the 1930s.  If the on-board photo is flipped horizontally, the shadow looks just like the Little Prince’s “drawing Number One”:

Drawing Number One, "The Little Prince", A. de Saint-Exupéry

If you’ve never read his story, you won’t know that the Little Prince showed the grown-ups his masterpiece and asked them if his drawing scared them.  “Why be scared of a hat?” they asked.  But he tells us, “My drawing was not a picture of a hat.  It was a picture of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant.”

But back to the photo challenge:  these soldiers are going on (or have been on) a journey that most of them will regret.  Yet they look pretty relaxed here.  Actually, pretty hot.  They were probably travelling close to the equator.  My father wrote some poetic lines about the boredom and wretchedness of being on-board a troop ship for weeks at a time.  When you’re 20 years old and volunteer to go abroad to defend your country, it probably feels adventurous.  And then you sail off, no turning back.

7 Replies to “Weekly photo challenge: Journey”

  1. “Le Petit Prince” is frequently used as a first novel for French language learners. However, I learnt French for 15 years and never read it, until my son read it online and told me to read it. The little prince is clever, it’s true. It’s a philosophical novel, very French. There are two or three good English translations of it, if your French isn’t up to book level.

  2. It had never occurred to me either until I saw the hat shadow and remembered this was the same era when Saint-Exupéry was in North Africa. Thanks for your comment.

  3. “The Little Prince” is an everlasting piece of inspiration.

    the island Saint-Exupéry was inspired by to draw his drawings number 1 and 2 is a little one right outside of the national park on Valdés Peninsula, Argentina. how he changed the island into a boa eating an elephant is some other piece of magic!

    your picture, althoug in a very random way, is a rare mix of many things that could be linked to Saint-Ex : the boat, the soldiers, the war, the hat, the soft filter in black and white…

    Thanks for bringing my attention this way.

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