French children under the Allied bombs, 1940–45

An oral history

Author: Lindsey Dodd

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.

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