Liberation of Rouen 2

  • Theme - WW1, WW2 & Military
  • Year - 1944
  • Location - Rouen
  • Filmmaker - André Danet

Notes

the 2nd clip of a valuable account, with recorded commentary, of the liberation of Rouen following the German retreat.

August 1944. The French FTP (Francs tireurs partisans), the Rouennais de la Défense passive and the Ffi, with their ammunition around their necks, welcome the Canadian liberators. Wide smiles and vigorous handshakes. With a way of framing faces, the young filmmaker, 17 years old at the time, immortalises these joyous moments : applause as the Canadian tanks pass through, the distribution of cigarettes and chocolates. More subdued moments also when two young women are lead away, hands in the air, probably to have their heads shaved.

9th June 1940 : French engineers blew up the Rouen bridges in order to delay the German advance. Two temporary bridges were built during the war, then bombed in August 1944.

30th May-4th June 1944 : the "semaine rouge" or “Red Week” (daily bombings by the Allies) add to the devastation in Rouen and the surrounding areas. The cathedral’s Saint-Romain tower burned, along with many streets. Firefighters, emergency workers and others work to free those buried, since the shelters themselves did not hold up, or were flooded with water.

25th August 1944 : destruction, by Allied bombs, of the Von Kluge army, which retreated from Lower Normandy and found themselves stuck on the docks to the left of Rouen (the city’s two temporary bridges having been blown up during the allied bombings).

30th August 1944 : Rouen is liberated by the Canadians. Since June 1940, 9,500 Rouen homes have been destroyed. The Canadian Army, supported by the Americans since November, attack the ruins with bulldozers, a vehicle new and fascinating for locals. Immediately, a temporary metallic bridge, “Bailey”, is installed between the two banks of the Seine, since it is all the more important that Rouen is transformed into the 11th allied port, transporting men and supplies.

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