Throughout the summer of 1944, the inhabitants of Lower Normandy found themselves caught in the midst of a vast battle. At the height of the fighting, in July, more than two million soldiers were engaged in combat – twice the population of the Manche and Calvados departments, where the battle was taking place.
In these conditions, the number of civilian victims was particularly high. To escape the bombs and shells, people sought shelter in cellars, caves, quarries, mine galleries and trenches covered with bundles of firewood. Tens of thousands more fled southwards – a perilous exodus along roads which were regularly strafed.
Meanwhile, those Normans who had joined the ranks of the Resistance did their best to assist the Allies.
The Battle of Normandy, which began on the beaches on June 6th 1944, lasted far longer than had been predicted and did not finish until the end of August. Because of this, the liberation of the communes was a long-drawn-out affair, though the Normans always gave the Allied troops an enthusiastic welcome.