Saturday, June 6, 2009

Normandy civilians suffered on D-Day


Writing from Paris, Hugh Schofield says that
A revisionist theme seems to have settled on this year's 65th anniversary commemoration of the Normandy landings.

The tone was set in Antony's Beevor's new book, D-Day, which tries to debunk certain received ideas about the Allied campaign.

Far from being an unmitigated success, Mr Beevor found, the landings came very close to going horribly wrong.

And far from being universally welcomed as liberators, many troops had a distinctly surly reception from the people of Normandy.

The reason for this was simple. Many Normandy towns and villages had been literally obliterated by Allied bombing.

The bombardment of Caen, Mr Beevor said, could almost be considered a war-crime (though he later retracted the comment).

Many historians will retort that there is nothing new in Mr Beevor's account.

Harrowing experience

After all, the scale of destruction is already well-established.

Some 20,000 French civilians were killed in the two-and-a-half months from D-Day, 3,000 of them during the actual landings.

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