June 7, 1944

This is the day I almost got un-born, not that I was born at the time (!) but my mother, then almost seven, came close to dying under the Allied bombs that obliterated Saint-Lô (Manche, western France) from the map that night, in conjunction with the D Day landing in the nearby beaches of Utah Beach and Omaha Beach. (The city was supposed to be taken by the end of June 6, but it was only on July 19 that Allied troops entered Saint-Lô.) Most of the town got destroyed under 60,000 pounds of bombs in an attempt by the Allied forces to cut access to the beaches from German reinforcements from Brittany. (Saint-Lô got the surname of “capital of the ruins” from Samuel Beckett after this bombing and it took many years to reconstruct.) My granparents and their three daughters barely went out of their house before it collapsed and had to flee the ablaze Saint-Lô with a single cartwheel to carry two suitcases and the three girls. Several times did my grandfather hide them under his leather jacket for power lines were collapsing around them…
They eventually (and obviously) made it alive out of Saint-Lô, only to be rounded up with other refugees by German troops who parked them in a field, most likely to be used as hostages. Taking advantage of the night, my grandfather managed once again to get his family away by crawling under the barriers on the darkest side of the field and they then reached (by foot) a most secluded village in the countryside where my great-grandmother was living at the time. From when I was a child, I have heard this story so many times from my mother that it is almost pictured in my brain, as if I had seen the “movie”, somehow.

4 Responses to “June 7, 1944”

  1. […] of furniture we brought back were the bedroom parts from the 1930′s that had survived the June 1944 bombing of my grand-parents’ house. And the following days of pillaging by German troops and […]

  2. […] with my grandfather, she managed to recover from the complete destruction of their belongings in St-Lô, June 1944, turning growing and selling flowers into a profitable business. As a kid, I remember being quite […]

  3. […] and she started talking about the hard times she had during the second World War. Before and after Saint Lô’s bombing. She described how the food restrictions were so harsh during the war years that items […]

  4. The will to live…what an incredible, touching story… You’re lucky!
    and I am so genuinely jealous (in the good sense of the term)…

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