In the South of France, the most memorable event of the Second World War was the sea and airborne invasion of 15 August 1944. Perhaps because it went relatively smoothly, this “Second D-Day” was soon relegated to the back pages of history. Operation Dragoon and the liberation is however only a small part of the story.
The arrival of the Allies was preceded by years of oppression and strife. Provençal people still struggle to come to terms with the painful past of split-allegiances and empty stomachs which epitomize les années noires (the dark years). The author’s blend of local and social history enables the English-language reader to discover the parallel universe which exists alongside these idyllic shores.
In every corner of Provence, the mindful traveller will come across words, chipped into stone, which exhort: Passant, souviens-toi (passer-by, remember). These sacred places of memory tell a story of duplicity, defiance, and ultimately, deliverance. Whether the stuff of legends, or the everyday experiences of lesser mortals, humanity is used to explain the Franco-American experience of wartime Provence, as seen through an Anglo-Saxon prism.