This book provides a unique perspective on the Allied bombing of France during the Second World War which killed around 57,000 French civilians. Using oral history as well as archival research, it provides an insight into children's wartime lives in which bombing often featured prominently, even though it has slipped out of French collective memory. The book compares three French towns with different experiences of bombing: Boulogne-Billancourt , Brest, and Lille. Divided into three parts dealing with expectations, experiences and explanations of bombing, the book considers the child's view of wartime violence, analysing resilience, understanding and trauma. The first part of the book deals with the time before bombing. It examines how the French prepared for war and preparations made specifically for bombing, showing how state-level and municipal-level preparations. The second part considers the time during bombing and its aftermath. It discusses the experience of being bombed, examining children's practical, sensory and emotional responses. The fascinating and frightening scenes in the immediate aftermath of bombing that made lasting impressions on children, including destruction, chaos and encounters with violent, public death. Changes in status as a result of bombing becoming a sinistre, refugee or evacuee had far-reaching consequences in some children's lives, affecting their education and economic situation. The last section looks at the way in which air raids were explained to the French population. It considers the propaganda that criticised and defended the Allies, and an understanding of the history of Vichy.
in the first instance – to understand that whatever was said to condemn
the Allies was rejected by the French. While professional historians may
disagree, and archive evidence certainly indicates that many French people held anti-Allied sentiments, the Thomas brothers’ perspective should
not be dismissed: it is an important narrative trope that permits the composure of personal, family, generational and national identity; it is a way
of making sense of the past.
Propaganda is a public instrument that aims to act upon the private individual, manipulating ideas
‘sound archives’ (archives sonores)
proliferate inside institutions dedicated to collecting and preserving the
patrimoine (national heritage).5 This rejection may in part be due to a
strong French tradition of historical positivism, the legacy of structuralism, academic conservatism, competing and influential methodologies,
and a recent history fraught with bitter secrets, which has cast Memory
as the villain to a heroic Truth. The Aubrac ‘affair’, and particularly the
resistance couple’s round-table ‘trial’ by historians in May 1997 exemplified the extent to which the
turn towards understanding events that
had previously seemed peripheral to the main action. His analysis, both
overarching and minute, of archives across France provides a framework
in which to situate individual experience.8 In this book, I examine the
Allied bombing of France as experienced on the ground to understand
its impact on the lives it touched, particularly children’s lives. Total war
brought children into contact with war’s aggression and violence as never
before. How were children in France during the Second World War
affected by bombs? How has it
AMCB, 4H4.1: La Dépêche de Brest et de l’Ouest, 21 October 1943.
22 Halls, Youth of Vichy France, pp. 344–5; L. Yagil, ‘L’homme nouveau’ et
la révolution nationale de Vichy, 1940–44 (Villeneuve d’Ascq: Presses
Universitaires du Septentrion, 1997), p. 87; Jackson, France: The Dark
Years, p. 350.
23 ADIV (Archives Départementales d’Ille et Vilaine), 47W.6: Pierre Laval to
prefects and departmental youth delegates, 17 June 1943.
24 Halls, Youth of Vichy France, pp. 344–5.
25 In May 1943, the SGJ was told to coordinate all youth activity towards the
: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2005), pp. 249–62; J. S. Kulok
‘ “Trait d’union”: the history of the French relief organization Secours
National/Entraide Française under the Third Republic, the Vichy regime
and the early Fourth Republic, 1939–49’ (unpublished PhD dissertation,
University of Oxford, 2003).
13 ADBR (Archives Départementales des Bouches-du-Rhône), 76W.200:
Minister of Interior (Laval) to all prefects, 9 October 1940.
14 ADLA (Archives Départementales de la Loire-Atlantique, 1690W.146:
Prefect of the Loire-Inférieure to sub-prefects and mayors, 19 June
Dépêche de Brest et de l’Ouest, 5 March 1938;
AMCB, 4H4.14: La Dépêche de Brest et de l’Ouest, 1 July 1938;
ADN (Archives Départementales du Nord), 25W.38134: ‘Exercices
d’évacuation’, Prefecture of the Nord, 22 May 1937; for example, AMCB,
4H4.14: René Marie to Mayor of Brest, 3 November 1938; AMBB,
6H6: Police Commissioner of Paris to Chief Police Superintendent of
Boulogne-Billancourt, 3 April 1939; AMCB, 4H4.14: La Dépêche de Brest
et de l’Ouest, 18 March 1938; AMCB, 4H4.14, ‘Rapport du Président de
la commission urbaine de la défense passive’, undated (1936 or
protests were ignored, indicating the relative power relations among key
stakeholders. German anti-aircraft guns, seemingly a protection from
the bombers, attracted more blame than thanks. The bomber acquired a
strange status among French people: he was a friend, he was to be pitied,
he was to be defended, sometimes criticised, but his weapons were to be
Bombing and memory in France
A research project on civilian experience of bombing in France that relied
solely on archival material – much of which, nonetheless, draws on memory in letters written about air
French denaturalisation law on the brink of World War II
French parliamentary archival documents related to
denaturalisation’s legislative process, the chapter discusses the
extent to which denaturalisation became a major political strategy,
authorised in the name of the security of the nation. Especially
attentive to the language at work in those political juridical
documents, that is, paying particular attention to rhetorical tropes,
semantic fields, and
The history of relief work is in its infancy. This book draws on new archival research to reveal the priorities of nineteenth-century relief workers, and the legacies of their preoccupations for relief work today. It first explores the inauguration of the British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War (NAS) at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 under the figurehead of Loyd Lindsay. Then, the book sees the revival of the NAS for work in the Balkans during a period of nationalist violence and Ottoman counter-insurgency which culminated in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. It also follows the staff of relief committees as they dispensed aid in British colonial wars. The book examines the critiques of British policy in the Boer War (1899-1902) emanating from intersecting circles of Quakers, New Liberals and ethicists, and considers these groups' offer of aid to Boer civilians. Further, the book concentrates on the methodologies of relief for Boer inmates of British concentration camps in South Africa and on the implications of this relief for its intended recipients during and after the war. It concentrates on aid to British soldiers. The book closes by tracing continuities in vocational practices and dispositions to emerging areas of concern in the post-war period, in particular child welfare, and briefly considers their implication for relief work today.