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Liberation on the Move: Normandy

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Abstract

The first Liberation meetings between Allied personnel and French men and women took place in northern France. It was here that Operation Overlord was launched on 6 June 1944, with the Allied 21st Army Group mounting their assault on the beaches in the east of Normandy, near Sainte-Mère-Eglise (Utah Beach), further west near Pointe du Hoc (Omaha), at Arromanches (Gold), Courseulles (Juno), and Lion-sur-Mer (Sword). Once ashore, however, after fighting which was in many cases bloody and extremely costly, actual progress on the ground went more slowly than had been expected. By the second half of June, positions on both sides of the bridgehead that the Allies had established in France seemed to be solid. The American army, turning westwards, was halted in its drive to Saint-Lô. Despite attempts to outflank Caen from the west, the city was still in German hands at the end of June, with British and Canadian soldiers fighting their way up to the River Orne only in early July, in the wake of immense Allied bombing raids. In this situation, the bridgehead of land that the Allies secured was becoming increasingly cramped, and there were still more American divisions in England waiting to land.

Keywords

Civilian Population French Woman French People Military Objective Ally Force 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    M. Hastings, Overlord: ‘D’ Day and the Battle for Normandy (London: Michael Joseph, 1984), p. 12.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Quoted in J. Keegan, Six Armies in Normandy: From ‘D’ Day to the Liberation of Paris. 6 June-25 August 1944 (London: Jonathan Cape, 1982), p. 83.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Quoted in R. Miller, Nothing Less than Victory: The Oral History of ‘D’ Day (London: Michael Joseph, 1993), p. 252.Google Scholar
  4. 35.
    Figures from: M. Boivin et al., Villes Normandes sous les bombes (juin 1944) (Caen: Presses Universitaires de Caen, 1994).Google Scholar
  5. 36.
    E. Fouilloux, and D. Veillon, ‘Mémoires du débarquement en Normandie’, in F. Bédarida (ed.) Normandie 44: Du débarquement à la Libération (Paris: Albin Michel, 1987), p. 226.Google Scholar
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    Gille Painel, in R. Herval, Bataille de Normandie: récits de témoins, vol. 1 (Paris: Editions de Notre Temps, 1947), p. 81.Google Scholar
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    K. Tout, Tanks, Advance! Normandy to the Netherlands (London: Robert Hale, 1987), p. 45.Google Scholar
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    Chanoine Simon in, R. Herval, Bataille de Normandie: récits de témoins, vol. 2 (Paris: Editions de Notre Temps, 1947), p. 64.Google Scholar
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    A. Gosset, and P. Lecomte, Caen pendant la bataille (Caen: Ozanne, 1946), p. 51.Google Scholar
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    P. Lagrou, The Legacy of Nazi Occupation: Patriotic Memory and National Recovery in Western Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), p. 26.Google Scholar

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© Hilary Footitt 2004

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