Warfare History Network
The frequent bombing of the beautiful medieval city caused widespread death and destruction and resentment to the Allies.
By any standard, the ancient city of Rouen, in Upper Normandy, is a historical treasure. Within its magnificent High Gothic Notre-Dame Cathedral (which was portrayed in a famous series of paintings by the Impressionist Claude Monet as well as by his contemporary Camille Pissarro) is a tomb containing the heart of Richard the Lionheart (1157-1199) who had been King of England and the Duke of Normandy. A few streets away is Vieux-Marché, the place where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake on May 30, 1432.
Unfortunately, like many French cities that felt the weight of Allied bombs during the course of the war, Rouen was particularly hard hit. The city on the Seine, which existed even before the Romans reached Gaul, was and is a tangle of narrow, winding streets lined with quaint, half-timbered, medieval homes and shops.
Many books and articles about World War II tend to focus solely on the battles, the movement of troops, and the territories won and lost. Several recent books have given us a picture of what life was like for the German people in the wake of defeat. But not many dwell on the impact of the war on the French people who, after all, bore the brunt of two invasions—the German invasion in 1940 and the 1944 invasions in Normandy and the Riviera by the liberating Allied armies. And even fewer works concentrate on the suffering caused by American and British aerial bombing.
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The Bombing of France