What happened in France after D-Day?
This week, on 6 June, the western world commemorated the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings which marked the beginning of the end of World War Two. The Allied troops entered France via sea at Normandy, to begin the liberation of France from the hands of the Nazis.
But what happened in the rest of France on the days following D-Day, while the Allied troops started to make their way south?
The German battalions of the 2nd SS-Panzer Division, Das Reich, were ordered to head north to Normandy to try to stop the Allied invasion. They had arrived in Southern France from Russia in January, so they’d had time to familiarise themselves with the terrain. They were unable to travel by train as the railway tracks have been sabotaged by freedom fighters and so they had to travel by road. The Resistance set to ambush the Germans at every possible opportunity on the roads, felling trees or building blockades to hinder their progress.
Frustrated by the freedom fighters slowing their advancement the Germans carried out a number of savage attacks on French civilians along the way, including massacres at two villages: Tulle and Oradour-sur-Glane. It is the latter which I refer to in my book.
642 villagers from Oradour-sur-Glane were murdered by the Nazis on 10 June – only six people from the entire village survived. The village has remained untouched for the past 75 years.