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Centenary of the creation of Terney[1]

At the request of the Association, M. Patrick de Ternay visited the city of Terney [Russia] on 14 September 2008, following receipt of an invitation from the municipality of Terney.

Some 121 years after the passage of the frigates into a bay, situated to the north of Valdivostok, that La Pérouse christened in honour of Admiral de Ternay[2], the Russian authorities, admirers of the work of the great French navigator, decided to give this name to a village that they founded in 1908. Today, Terney is a small city of about 5,000 inhabitants, principally involved in the preservation of the environment, in particular its fauna and the famous Siberian tiger.

At Vladivostok, when he alighted from his aircraft, M. de Ternay was greeted by the Mayor of Terney, M. Nicolas Alexandrevitch Lisovsky. Press and television journalists had been summoned for an interview and film on the edge of the Sea of Japan.

That very evening, the wife of the provincial governor insisted on receiving the French visitor who bore a well-known name.

The trip from Valdivostok to Terney (800 km) was the opportunity to visit a tiger reserve and the mineral museum at Dainegorsk, where the welcoming committee was waiting.

One of the last days of the Siberian autumn, the 14th September 2008, was chosen to celebrate the centenary [of the city].

The programme included, first of all, a visit to the botanical garden, a reception at the school where the name of M. Bedin[3] remained familiar, various entertainments, a sketch in honour of Monsieur de La Pérouse, children’s dances, and songs by a soprano from Terney. All this happened in a nice, friendly and moving atmosphere, which allowed everyone to find out about the Frenchman whose name they shared.

On this occasion, it is appropriate to note that the two monuments raised to the memory of La Pérouse, in the city of Terney and on the bay, are the result solely of the action of the inhabitants, on the initiative of the historian, Monsieur Evgeny Suvorov, who was behind the identification of the historic bay.

The ceremony in front of the main monument which bears, engraved in the metal, the Russian translation of a passage from the journal of the famous navigator, was the great moment of the day: Russian and French flags, national anthems and speeches, [and the] laying of wreaths, both Russian and French, the latter bearing a ribbon with the name of the Albi association which was prepared before departure.

Then, near the town hall, there was the traditional offering of bread and salt, the symbolic handing over of the keys to the city, and a long series of events awaited by the inhabitants: posing for photographs with all those who asked (more than a hundred people), holding children in one’s arms, autographs, and an interview for the local newspaper.

During the lunch, P. de Ternay, presented, in the name of the Association, a portrait of Admiral de Ternay based on the one on exhibition at the Château de Ternay (Vienne) and [which was] graciously framed by Madame M.L. De Lapérouse.

Naturally, a fireworks show brought this memorable day to a close.

The next day, the visitor was taken in a speedboat around the bay – the same one where the Vendémiaire [a Floréal- class frigate] anchored in 2004, and the Prairial [also a Floréal-class frigate] in 2007 – in order to lay a wreath at the modest commemorative monument.

Thus this important commemoration came to an end. It is certain that it would have been missing much of its significance if the present-day family of Admiral de Ternay had not generously agreed to send one of its members, continuing in some way the historic attachment which, since 1756, has united the admiral and the young officer cadet [Lapérouse]. Let us warmly congratulate and thank Patrick de Ternay and his family for their deed which is henceforth historic!

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The above appeared in the magazine of the Association Lapérouse Albi-France, ‘Journal de bord’, No38; no author is noted. It appears here by kind permission of the President, Monsieur Henry Féral, and Editor, Monsieur Henri Colombié. The translation is by Dr W. Land AM   


[1] Please note that the name of the city is transliterated as ‘Terney’ while the Admiral is ‘de Ternay’.

[2] Charles-Henri-Louis d’Arsac de Ternay (1723-1780) was a very important French naval officer who befriended Lapérouse and was, in part, responsible for his joining the navy. [vide John Dunmore, Where Fate Beckons, Sydney, ABC Books, 2006, pp.12-13 et seq.] He reached the rank of rear-admiral and served particularly in the Seven Years War and the War of American Independence.

[3] Monsieur Bedin was the Russian teacher at the Lycée Belleville in Albi and his class corresponded with the pupils in Terney.

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