Paris is Liberated

 

Paris is Liberated

 

The period until the 17th September, when the famous airborne attack, hopefully to take Arnhem, started off is one of somewhat dim memory but nevertheless very interesting. Our armoured Divisions were now able to push forward over the Seine and made a tremendous advance covering some 250 miles in a matter of six days, eventually ending up in Brussels.

To us, an Infantry Division, the war suddenly seemed somewhat remote: the majority of our 3 ton ‘Bechelon’ lorries, ammunition lorries etc. had been taken by the armoured Divisions to keep them supplied on their dash. The villagers were very hospitable and dances took place and many cap badges were lost, given as souvenirs. The 5th DCLI actually enjoyed a wild boar hunt in the Forêt de Vernon, but I believe the only boar seen was one stepped on by one of the beaters and that escaped!

Although Paris lay in the American area, the Divisional staff did arrange for some trips into Paris by small detachments of our own chaps. I went with the Adjutant Alec Greenhill and Roy Woodward, one of the other Troop Commanders, to Paris individually in a jeep and we were actually on the second stage of the Eiffel Tower on the day the Free French were marching up the Champs Elysées.

We three were very surprised to find well dressed men and women in the area of the Place de la Concorde. The luxury to be seen in the great shops and the girls on the streets in wide flowing skirts on their bicycles and the boulevards and public buildings practically untouched by the war was rather different from our scene in London.

We saw live poultry being sold from market stalls and when a customer bought one, the seller would strangle it on the spot. Along the banks of the Seine, I browsed through some etchings which were for sale and bought four, two of which are still on display in my daughter’s house.

 

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