The Killing Fields of Provence

Occupation, Resistance and Liberation in the South of France

James Bourhill

In the South of France, the most memorable event of the Second World War was the sea and airborne invasion of 15 August 1944. Perhaps because it went relatively smoothly, this "Second D-Day” was soon relegated to the back pages of history. Operation Dragoon and the liberation is however only a small part of the story.
Date Published :
February 2020
Publisher :
Pen and Sword
Illustration :
40 black and white illustrations
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Hardback
ISBN : 9781526761323

Dimensions : 9.25 X 6 inches Pages : 432
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Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order
$42.95

Overview
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In the South of France, the most memorable event of the Second World War was the sea and airborne invasion of 15 August 1944. Perhaps because it went relatively smoothly, this “Second D-Day” was soon relegated to the back pages of history. Operation Dragoon and the liberation is however only a small part of the story. The arrival of the Allies was preceded by years of suffering and sacrifice under Hitléro-Vichyssois oppression.

Provençale people still struggle to come to terms with the painful past of split-allegiances and empty stomachs which epitomize les années noirs (the dark years). Deportations, requisitions, forced labour, and hunger provoked some level of resistance by a courageous minority. Many actively colluded with the enemy, but most just waited for better days. By sea and air, Allied agents and Special Forces were infiltrated to fan the flames, but wherever the Resistance rose up prematurely, the reprisals from the Nazis and their auxiliaries were ferocious.

In every corner of Provence, the mindful traveller will come across words, chipped into stone, which exhort: Passant, souviens-toi (passer-by, remember). It is hard to imagine that such cruelty could have existed here less than one generation ago. These places of memory tell a story of duplicity, defiance, and ultimately, deliverance. Whether the stuff of legends, or the everyday experiences of lesser mortals, humanity is used to explain the Franco-American experience of wartime Provence, as seen through an Anglo-Saxon prism.

About The Author
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Schooled at St John’s College, Johannesburg, James Bourhill holds a doctorate in history from the University of Pretoria. He did his national service in a mounted infantry unit and began his tertiary education at Cedara College of Agriculture, after which he went farming in Rhodesia and America. James is the author of Come back to Portofino – Through Italy with the 6th South African Armoured Division (2011); Deveron to Devastation: Brother officers of the 7th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (2014) and Return to Morogoro: With the South African Horse through East Africa to France and Flanders (2015). He divides his time between his farm in South Africa and his second home in the village of Plan de la Tour in the South of France.

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