When disaster strikes small communities like that on Maré, where everyone knows everyone, are particularly badly hit.
This memorial, by the harbour at the small port of Tadine, is to the 126 passengers and crew who lost their lives on the night of July 31st, 1953 when La Monique, a small passenger/cargo boat, disappeared on a routine 140 kms trip across the reef strewn seas between Tadine and Noumea, the capital of New Caledonia.
Despite numerous attempts since to find the wreck and the remains of the dead all that has been found is a lifebuoy and a few 200 litres drums being carried by the ship on that fateful night in 1953.
Reports suggest that La Monique was overloaded and listing when she left port. Such overloading was seemingly a regular occurrence – it’s just that on its final trip La Monique was unable to withstand stronger ocean waves than had been predicted that night and sank after capsizing.
The memorial, replacing an earlier one and listing the Christian names only of those lost, was dedicated in 1978 to mark the 25th anniversary of the ship’s loss. It faces out to sea – ‘where they went’ and calls to mind not death but rather that the lost ‘are no longer here, yet they are here nevertheless’.
This blog entry is one of a group (loop) of entries based on my trip to Maré, New Caledonia. I suggest you continue with my next entry – WWI Memorial: Kanaks – Pour La France – or to start the loop at the beginning go to my introductory entry – Maré – New Caledonia’s Hidden Gem