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John Kettler

The Seamy Underside of the Normandy Invasion

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Rigorous recent scholarship has revealed a seamy and even horrifying underside to what happened after the Americans landed. Talking hundreds of rapes, GIs so predatory the Resistance had to protect French women. There were even murders. Apparently, most of this behavior was motivated by how French women were portrayed before the invasion (essentially sluts), even in the widely read LIFE, and in official pubs given the GIs prior to landing to motivate them to fight. Once ashore, and when not actively engaged in battle, many went hog wild, and their COs did nothing. This went on for quite some time, but eventually...

(Fair Use)

When French outrage eventually forced action, a series of kangaroo courts resulted in 153 prosecutions for sex offences and 29 soldiers being hanged for rape, 77 per cent of them were black GIs. The military had to send for an executioner from Texas to perform the hangings as the French capital punishment system was still the guillotine and they had no technicians skilled in the use of the noose.

The dismay felt by the French was summed up in one letter unearthed by Prof Roberts in which a caf© owner states: "We expected friends who would not make us ashamed of our defeat. Instead, there came incomprehension, arrogance, incredibly bad manners and the swagger of conquerors."

The sordid tale summarizing what happens when lust crazed GIs run amok is here and is taken from the listed book.

What Soldiers Do: Sex And The American GI In World War II France by Mary Louise Roberts

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/422860/D-Day-GIs-raped-and-killed-their-French-allies-while-US-army-generals-turned-a-blind-eye

Regards,

John Kettler

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I know this particular book is pretty controversial among WWII historians - I'm certainly not one to speak of it, but there's plenty of feathers that were riled by it.

One thing that's not in doubt is that yeah, every side in the war did some very nasty things to the civilians. The use of artillery and air power in Normandy was not only indiscriminant, but deliberately targeted and destroyed a great number of civilian areas. Looting was pretty much constant. There were also widespread rumours of French women acting as snipers for the Germans, and although this was never demonstrated to be true, a number of women were summarily killed for it. French civilians found with weapons in combat areas were often treated not as likely resistance fighters (or just keeping a weapon to protect themselves), but as probable enemies. And the record as far as executions of POWs was also pretty horrid, among virtually every type of unit in Normandy. 

At the same time, the casualty rates were devastating, many units came in lacking either experience or proper supply for some time, and leadership had a high turnover rate, with commanders under pressure for results above all else. And then of course the German side, which acted no better on average towards either civilians or GIs, and dramatically worse in case of the SS - where leadership was active in ordering reprisals against civilians, and committed atrocities systematically. And then there were the issues between French civilians themselves, including the very nasty mutual reprisals between Petainist, communist, Gaullist, and other sorts of camps within France.

So yeah, it was certainly a mess and there were lots of war crimes, but I don't think singling out the American GI is necessarily productive. All Allied troops, including the Free French, had their share in some very seedy business there.

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15 hours ago, Warts 'n' all said:

The above, whilst unpleasant, was as nothing compared to the behaviour of the Black Prince's nobles and common soldiers in France during the Hundred Years War.

And the Thirty Years War was a horror if not for as long a time.

Michael

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6 hours ago, Holien said:

John how does this relate to the game? 

Agreed.  I would consider the "General Discussion Forum" a better place to post information of this nature where it would be viewed by a wider audience and allow for broader discussion

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14 hours ago, Warts 'n' all said:

I have to admit that I didn't even know that there was a GDF, I've never scrolled that far down the opening page. 

Long years ago, it was often the most interesting part of the forum...after the Peng Challenge Thread of course. Sadly, both have become somewhat moribund in recent years, but it's nice to see that lately the GDF is enjoying some activity.

Michael

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