Normandy's Nightmare War: The French Experience of Nazi Occupation and Allied Bombing 1940-45

Normandy's Nightmare War: The French Experience of Nazi Occupation and Allied Bombing 1940-45

by Douglas Boyd


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Famous for Calvados apple brandy and Camembert cheese, Normandy is a green and pleasant land now dotted with thousands of British-owned second homes. Its coastline is also dotted with thousands of indestructible reinforced-concrete bunkers and gun emplacements that formed part of the Atlantic Wall of Hitler’s Fortress Europe.

Tourists passing through the ferry ports like Boulogne, Cherbourg and Dunkirk may wonder why there are so few old buildings. Few know that the demolition which preceded the extensive urban renewal of the ancient town centres was effected by British bombs during four years of hell for the people living there. Before its belated liberation three ghastly months after D-Day, the sirens in Le Havre wailed 1,060 times to warn of approaching British and American bombers. After one single Allied raid, over 3,000 dead civilians were recovered from the city’s ruins, without counting the thousands of injured, maimed and traumatised survivors.

So, whom did the Normans regard as the enemy: the German occupiers who shot a few hundred civilians or the Allied airmen who killed as many neutral citizens of northern France as died in Britain from German bombs during the whole war?

Told largely in the words of French, German and Allied eyewitnesses – including the moving last letters of executed hostages – this is the story of Normandy’s nightmare war.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781526745811
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Publication date: 08/29/2019
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Douglas Boyd has lived in France for forty years. Author of published works that include fourteen volumes of French and Russian history, he is a former BBC TV producer/director who began collecting first-hand accounts of the French experience of Second World War in 1968 while working on television programs commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1918 Armistice.

Table of Contents

About the author vii

List of acronyms x

Update xii

Introduction xvi

Part 1 Demoralisation and Defeat

Chapter 1 Days of desperation 2

Chapter 2 How to kill a republic 15

Chapter 3 Coming to terms with defeat 30

Chapter 4 Under the German yoke and British bombs 40

Part 2 Occupation and Hunger

Chapter 5 Dig, or die! 54

Chapter 6 Dear Mummy, I am going to die 70

Chapter 7 Shameless women and guilty men 89

Chapter 8 The jinx on Jubilee 104

Chapter 9 Milice v. Maquis - a war to the death 115

Chapter 10 Hell-on-Sea 125

Part 3 Preparation and Pain

Chapter 11 Spies, spy-hunters and bishops 142

Chapter 12 The ravaging of Rouen 150

Chapter 13 D-Day, as seen from the other side 164

Chapter 14 Tidal waves and terror 179

Part 4 Liberation and Death

Chapter 15 The silent city 190

Chapter 16 The deadly oranges and lemons 206

Chapter 17 Tunnelling through bodies 215

Chapter 18 We greet you in mourning 225

Chapter 19 The last town in France 235

Epilogue 254

Acknowledgements 258

Further Reading in English 260

Notes and Sources 261

Index 274

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