Australia home, but French in war and peace
JEAN-PIERRE SOURDIN, 1925-2012 http://www.francaislibres.net/liste/fiche.php?index=97043
Comfortable in two countries … Jean-Pierre Sourdin. Photo: Supplied
When Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933 the Sourdin family in Paris started to worry, and in 1936 they decided to leave for Australia. Jean-Pierre Sourdin then spent his life enjoying both countries and cultures.
He was born in May 1925 in Paris, the eldest of three children of Albert and Nancy Sourdin. Nancy was English and the children were brought up bilingually.
Life in Australia was hard at first, and it wasn't until 1939 that Albert found full-time work when he became editor of the only French newspaper in Australia at the time, Le Courrier Australien, founded in 1892 and now the longest-running foreign newspaper in the country.
When war broke out in 1939 the Free French in the Pacific area formed a branch of the Free French association and in 1940, with the help of Andre Brenae, the French consul in Sydney, and supporters of General de Gaulle, the Courrier became the voice of the FFL (Forces Franç¸aises Libres) in Australia.
Jean-Pierre, meanwhile, had been a wolf cub in France and in Australia he progressed to boy scout and rover, and eventually became district cub master at Waverley and helped to establish a cub pack at Mt Pritchard East.
On his 18th birthday, in 1943, Sourdin joined the Free French naval force, an auxiliary of the Royal Navy, boarded the armed merchant cruiser Cap de Palmes and went to war.
The Cap de Palmes escorted US Navy ships and served with the US Third Fleet in the Guadalcanal area.
Sourdin was demobbed in 1946 and returned to Australia.
He then enrolled at the University of Sydney to study social sciences. In 1949 he married Cora Torey.
By 1954, Sourdin had joined the Courrier and when Albert retired in 1973, Jean-Pierre was elected editor-director.
During the 1970s, Sourdin changed the Courrier from weekly to monthly.
There were also five editions of the magazine Aspects of France, designed for students of French in Australian high schools, and 13 annual business directories of French firms in Australia.
Sourdin also continued his support of the Australian branch of the FFL, now combined with the Returned Services League.
He was elected the FFL's treasurer-president and held the position until he retired in 1999 and moved to Kiama.
Sourdin was awarded the National Order of Merit by the French government for his 45 years' with the Courrier and for his many years of working with French associations in Sydney. He was also made a knight of the Ordre des Palmes Academiques and awarded the Ordre national de la Lé´gion d'honneur for his efforts to promote the understanding of French culture, literature, language and history in Australia.
Jean-Pierre Sourdin is survived by his children Gai, Kerry, Christophe and Marianne, five grandchildren and siblings Melina and Alec.
Patricia Erickson, his partner of many years, died last year.
Patsy Jaeger, Gai Warren and Georges Brouet