The Oursel/Crommelin Residence in Le Havre

This hotel at 35 Rue d'Estimauville, Le Havre was the site of the former residence of
Catherine Crommelin and her second husband, Robert Oursel,
before the entire street was destroyed in 1944 by wartime bombing.

The address, 35 Rue d'Estimauville, Le Havre, was the residence of Robert Oursel and Catherine Crommelin in the late 1600's. This later construction was built in 1788 by the businessman, Pierre Duval. It was transformed into a hotel for travellers in the beginning of the 20th century and named Hotel d'Estimauville. The narrow street was 100% destroyed in 1944 under heavy allied wartime bombing.

In the above photo note the name Rue F. Sauvage (bottom right corner) which intersected Rue d'Estimauville near their home.

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Compare the two maps above. See how the area looked around the time that
Oursel/Crommelin owned it (pink dot) in the late 1600's.

Rotate Picture: [Merian map of 1657]

Anglo-Dutch Bombardment of 1694

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Bombardment of Le Havre by an Anglo-Dutch fleet, 26 to 31 July 1694
(Engraving from Ratelband's Atlas of 1735)
Click to enlarge.

In the picture above, a cannonball from the Anglo-Dutch fleet flies over Catherine Crommelin's house (pink dot) at 35 Rue d'Estimauville in Le Havre. This bombardment is mentioned in a letter from Frederic de Conink written 5 August 1694. Fortunately her house wasn't struck, and her family survived the five-day naval bombardment from 26 to 31 July 1694. Le Havre was bombarded again by the English on 3-5 July 1759 under Admiral Rodney (below), and again on 5 September 1944 by the RAF which totally devastated the city's inner core including the Oursel/Crommelin residence. This was the house in which many of these old letters were written between Catherine Crommelin and her son (by her first marriage), Frederic de Coninck.

English Bombardment under Admiral Rodney, 1759

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July 1759 bombardment of Le Havre under Admiral Rodney
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Wartime Bombing: September 1944

The aerial reconnaissance photo below was taken at 18:08 hours on 5 September, 1944 just before bombs were unleashed in a daylight raid on a suspected German troop concentration at Le Havre at 18:42 hours. At left the fiery Target Indicators have already been dropped to guide the allied bombers to the target area. The carpet bombing of Le Havre by the RAF took 4 hours.

This must be the last photo ever taken of Le Havre which contains geography that would be familiar to Robert Oursel, Catherine Crommelin and Frederic de Coninck. Their house at 35 Rue d'Estimauville is obscured by the tip of the black arrow that indicates 'Target Area'. An hour later their old home, and street would no longer exist. The nearby Notre Dame Cathedral, though badly damaged, still remains today and is one of the oldest buildings to survive in Le Havre.

The toll from this aerial bombardment was 5,000 people killed, 12,500 buildings destroyed, 80,000 people left homeless; 17 kilometers of quaysides destroyed; and the population lost all tangible traces of its history. There were few Germans in Le Havre at the time, so the city was laid waste for no net benefit.

Click to enlarge.
Photo source:

Because of the destruction of this area (in close proximity to the main port) in 1944, the streets have changed. It would appear that the Oursel house would now be approximately at what is now the intersection of Rue Edouard Lang and Rue d'Estimauville. All the buildings on these streets are, of course, post WWII.

Click to enlarge.

YouTube Video of destruction