During the Second World War, the US involvement in the liberation of France stands as a remarkable chapter in history, serving as a turning point in the Allied effort to defeat Germany. Nothing shows this more than the above image of an American liberator being smooched on the cheek by an elderly French couple.
Following the successful Normandy landings on June 6, 1944, American troops, under the command of Dwight Eisenhower, launched a grueling campaign to free France from German occupation. They first moved inland to take the city of Caen, which provided them with access to many major roads.
The Allies were able to liberate many small towns along the way, but it wasn’t until after their successful taking of the city in mid-July that they really began their liberation efforts.
The American forces displayed unparalleled bravery and determination as they fought their way inland, overcoming formidable German defenses. With every hard-fought victory, the US pushed back the Axis soldiers, liberating towns, villages and cities across France.
Naturally, the country’s citizens were overjoyed, as they’d lived under German rule since they invaded in May 1940. Many, like the American liberator above, were given a warm welcome.
The photo was taken on August 8, 1944, although it’s unclear exactly where, other than a town beginning with “Saint-Sauveur.” Regardless, the lieutenant’s appearance was enthusiastically celebrated. He’s seen with a flower stuck in his helmet, something that wasn’t uncommon, as the French would throw flowers, wave flags, cheer and bring out the last of the wine they’d kept safe from the Germans.
The gratitude was unparalleled, and when Paris was liberated on August 25, 1944, the country could finally begin to see freedom on the horizon.