Caen Bombings Called into Question

The Caen bombings were among the unfortunate side effects of the Second World War. With the Allies gearing up for the Normandy invasion, fully aware of how difficult the battle would prove to be, they had to level out the playing field. This meant numerous air raids on the surrounding areas. Now, bombings over the city of Caen are called into question for the seeming lack of morality behind essentially destroying Allied territory.

Many approached the seventieth anniversary of D-Day with reverence and respect, but not all look back on the events of the day with admiration of courage. In fact, some are downright angry at the way the Normandy invasion was handled, and this most definitely includes the handling of the Caen bombings. The city was ruined in the process of the raid, and several thousand innocents lost their lives to the destruction. The worst part in the eyes of the French is that this destruction was not even at the hands of the enemy, but those of the Allied forces.

This issue is incredibly controversial, as many still believe that D-Day was integral to the Allied victory. Nonetheless, anger remains over the loss of civilian life, and many French citizens believe that the Caen bombings at the hands of British and American forces were entirely reckless. It is difficult to look back seventy years in the past and assess whether or not Normandy could have been liberated without paying such a dear price, The Telegraph reports.

One issue that the French are finding hard to ignore is the fact that the raid essentially stemmed from multiple failures on the part of the Allies. They failed to take the city from the Germans and they failed to eradicate bridges leading toward the beaches, so the Caen bombings were something of a Hail Mary pass to keep the Germans from taking the upper hand. Many French citizens are angry that soldiers and veterans receive regular recognition while the deaths of average citizens are almost completely overlooked in commemoration ceremonies.

France attempted to rectify this by honoring those lost to the Caen bombings on the anniversary of the Normandy landings. There are still survivors who remember standing in the wake of destruction and fearing for their lives. For them, the memory is as terrible as any other from the war, the major exception being that they had no line of defense. Some who regret the losses of the Caen bombings do believe that they were an important measure against German forces, but those who agree and those who disagree will likely always be divided. The only agreement between them is that the loss of civilian life was a tragic aspect of the war, and one which should be actively avoided in future conflicts.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE