The Killing Fields of Provence
...Occupation, Resistance & Liberation from Pen & Sword
Title: The Killing Fields of Provence
Author: James Bourhill
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Provence, the region in the South of France includes places such as Nice and Monte Carlo, along with the high ground of the Vercours. After the German Blitzkrieg of 1940 it remained in the unoccupied area of Vichy France. There was still the emergence of a resistance movement and when the Germans moved into Vichy as well, along with Italian forces crossing over the border, there was a recipe for action.
There is a lot to this story, held in this 405-page hardback. In the mountain villages of the Vercours it was impossible for the German military to have a permanent presence everywhere. There was a natural patriotism which fuelled the growth of the resistance movement, and an area where allied agents, from the British SOE and the American OSS were landed. There are stories of bravery, of betrayal, of double agents and German spies, reprisals and torture. It goes on to include the help given to allied airmen who were brought down in the region and then the landing of US Airborne forces as part of Operation Dragoon, the invasion of Southern France. As happened elsewhere, there are are tales of some who were landed a fair way from their intended drop-zones. Once the landings took place, so the US forces advanced while the Germans retreated, already weakened by units withdrawn to help out in the campaign in Northern France following D-Day. As the Americans advanced, so the resistance helped while also leaving them time to seek out collaborators and to settle some of their own private feuds. All these varied stories are included, with so much going on in the region it makes for some fascinating reading.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and learnt more about what happened in the region during WW2. Part of what grabbed my attention was to discover that this included the city of Grenoble, where one of our daughters now lives. I also learnt that a museum of the Resistance on the Vercours is not too far from them, and it is now on my list of places to visit when we next travel to visit Grenoble.
I will happily recommend this book, and thanks to Pen & Sword for our copy.