Article

The Allied Bombardment of Occupied Europe During World War II

Stephen A. Bourque

in Military History

ISBN: 9780199791279
Published online January 2017 | | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199791279-0163
The Allied Bombardment of Occupied Europe During World War II

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Although occupied Europe absorbed more bombs than Germany until the middle of 1944, few of the air war’s standard accounts examine details of operations against France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and post-surrender Italy. However, since the mid-1990s, scholars on both sides of the Atlantic have begun to remedy this omission. In the case of the Allied bombing of France and the Low Countries, the attacks lasted five long years and targeted most of the region’s population centers, small towns, and even isolated villages. In 1944, as the Norman landings approached, the bombing intensity increased dramatically; by the end of the year, aircraft from the US Army Air Force and British Royal Air Force had killed approximately 75,000 French civilians and destroyed thousands of buildings and historic structures. Today, monuments across France attest to the effects of these attacks, often naming the individual victims in the same manner a war memorial commemorates the conflict’s military veterans. Newspapers and civic groups alert the rebuilt communities when an anniversary of an especially significant attack approaches. Finally, cemetery plots, often entombing entire families, provide tangible evidence of the grief suffered by families and communities. These were not random acts of military violence, but integral parts of Operation Overlord, the Allied landing in Europe. Directed by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, air operations such as Fortitude, Pointblank, Crossbow, and the Transportation Plan ensured that ground forces would be able to land on the coast and not be thrown back into the sea by reinforced German defenders. Few English-language books have addressed this portion of the Norman landings because the bombings took place out of sight of those landing on the coast. Although French, Italian, and English historians have been busy since 2010 exploring this history, studies of operations in Belgium and the Netherlands are still in their infancy. Whereas literature on the Allied air operations is extensive, this article focuses only on those sources that elaborate on bombing operations against occupied Europe, but it is only preliminary as studies on this topic are expanding rapidly.

Article.  10697 words. 

Subjects: Military History ; Pre-20th Century Warfare ; First World War ; Second World War ; Post-WW2 Military History

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