The Killing Fields of Provence (Hardback)
Occupation, Resistance and Liberation in the South of France
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In the South of France, the most memorable event of the Second World War was the sea and airborne invasion of 15 August 1944. Perhaps because it went relatively smoothly, this ‘Second D-Day’ was soon relegated to the back pages of history. Operation Dragoon and the liberation is however only a small part of the story. The arrival of the Allies was preceded by years of oppression and strife. Provençal people still struggle to come to terms with the painful past of split-allegiances and empty stomachs which epitomize les années noires (the dark years).
The author’s blend of local and social history enables the English-language reader to discover the parallel universe which exists alongside these idyllic shores. In every corner of Provence, the mindful traveller will come across words, chipped into stone, which exhort: Passant, souviens-toi (passerby, remember). These sacred places of memory tell a story of duplicity, defiance, and ultimately, deliverance. Whether the stuff of legends, or the everyday experiences of lesser mortals, humanity is used to explain the Franco-American experience of wartime Provence, as seen through an Anglo-Saxon prism.
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…By Douglas Boyd
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