Monday, March 02, 2009

The first dwelling liberated on D-Day, 1944

The Gondrée Café, Bénouville, Calvados
This was the first dwelling liberated on 5 / 6 June 1944
[From the 60th Anniversary commemorations in 2004]
[Personal collection]
Adjacent to the Bénouville Canal bridge on the western side of the Caen Canal, the ‘Gondrée Café’ became the first dwelling in France to be 'liberated' from German Occupation on the night of 5 / 6 June 1944. The precise time of its liberation by airborne troops from the 2nd Battalion (Oxford and Buckinghamshire) Light Infantry Regiment is generally regarded as 00:20 local time (British time was one hour behind).

The first French municipality liberated is generally regarded as that of nearby Ranville on the eastern side of the Orne River. Ranville Town Hall was liberated at about 02.30 local time.
For additional information click on 'Comments' below


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

In June 1944 the café's proprietors were Georges and Thérèse Gondrée (seen in the photograph collage above). Mme Gondrée was originally from Alsace, part of France which Germany had annexed following the Armistice of 1940. For several weeks in the summer of 1944 the Gondrée Café was at the hub of much of the action during the Battle of Normandy.

Although I never met M or Mme Gondrée personally, I have met one of their daughters (Mme Arlette) who was a young child in 1944. One of my uncles was in the RAMC in Normandy during the war and he visited the Café and the nearby Pegasus Bridge area during that time. I have also been able to visit the Gondrée Café and Pegasus Bridge several times. They are now regarded by the French authorities as ‘monuments historiques’ as they are an important part in undertanding modern French history. The Gondrée Café is certainly worth a visit for anyone with an interest in modern history who is in the area.

Monday, 02 March, 2009  

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