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The Killing Fields of Provence (Hardback)

Occupation, Resistance and Liberation in the South of France

WWII Military

By James Bourhill
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 405
Illustrations: 40
ISBN: 9781526761323
Published: 20th November 2019



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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.

Pen and Sword produce to their normal high standard with good glossy images that are relevant.

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About James Bourhill

Schooled at St John’s College, Johannesburg, James Bourhill holds a doctorate in history from the University of Pretoria. He did his national service in a mounted infantry unit and began his tertiary education at Cedara College of Agriculture, after which he went farming in Rhodesia and America. James is the author of Come back to Portofino – Through Italy with the 6th South African Armoured Division (2011); Deveron to Devastation: Brother officers of the 7th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (2014) and Return to Morogoro: With the South African Horse through East Africa to France and Flanders (2015). He divides his time between his farm in South Africa and his second home in the village of Plan de la Tour in the South of France.

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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…

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