07 June, 2014

Seventy years ago and today : "Angers under bombs"

Il y a soixante dix ans jour pour jour, le 8 juin 1944, Angers se trouvait au milieu d'une vague de bombardements aériens qui firent 360 morts et 7 000 sinistrés, sans compter le millier de maisons détruites ou devenues inhabitables. Une exposition, "Angers sous les bombes" commémore cet événement jusqu'au 22 août.  

Seventy years ago, June 8th 1944 was, for Angers, the middle of a series of four bombardments which started on May 28th and ended in July 17th. The June 8th bombardment was not the most deadly, "only" 28 victims were recorded while the previous killed 254 persons, ten times more, and the following 64. The city council dedicates an exhibition to that event which, under the title "Angers under bombs", reminds the bombardment of the Pentecôte Day. That operation was planned, as the next, for the destruction of the communications ways which could be used by the German army to counter attack the allied forces after the D Day.

Because Angers was a strategic point, 130 planes of the British Royal Air Force dropped for 40 minutes a deluge of bombs over the Saint-Laud district. The Avrillé airfield as well as the Maître-Ecole and Saint-Serge railway stations were taken for aims. The target was achieved : theSaint-Laud railway station was completely destroyed, as well as 800 houses, while 7,000 others were damaged. The June 8th and 17th bombings led the inhabitants to run away because it became more and more difficult for them to get food. But the disaster was not over.

Credit Pictures : Archives départementales de M&L
In August 10th, the third American army was compelled to bomb Angers. But that time, the strikes were much more precise. If the German army had cut the bridges over the Loire river, the little railway bridge of Pruniers was still intact. That way allowed the Americans to cross the river but they met a fierce resistance in Saint-Gemmes-sur-Loire. The Us army also move close to Angers through La Meignanne and Avrillé. So the Germans, caught by the North and the South, took refuge in the castle but the allied forces, under an aerial cover, crossed the Maine. At 5 pm on August 10th 1944, Angers was liberated.

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