French Citizens

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French military forces
On D-Day, the 1st French Marine Rifles Battalion (1er Bataillon de Fusiliers Marins) commanded by Philippe Kieffer with 177 commandos landed on Sword Beach and attacked the casino resort of Ouistreham. Further Free French Forces landed after D-Day and participated in the Battle of Normandy. In addition to these land forces, five air force squadrons and four war ships participated on D-Day with many French personnel serving in Allied ships, planes and battalions not under French colours.

The Resistance
Little is known of Resistance activity around Ver-sur-Mer at this time. It must be remembered that in June 1944 there were few civilians left in Ver while there were many German defenders. However, elsewhere in France the Resistance played a key part in ensuring the success of the Landings and the battle of Normandy. Sabotage of railways, power installations and telecommunications did much to hinder German forces attempting to reinforce the Normandy defence.

General Eisenhower has been quoted as saying the value of the Resistance was equal to ten to fifteen divisions when the Landings took place. He went on to say:

“Throughout France, the Free French had been of inestimable value in the campaign. They were particularly active in Brittany, but on every portion of the front we secured help from them in a multitude of ways. Without their great assistance, the liberation of France and the defeat of the enemy in Western Europe would have consumed a much longer time and meant greater losses to ourselves.”

Credit: Eisenhower, General Dwight D. (1897) [1948]. Crusade in Europe – Report on Operations in Northwest Europe, June 6, 1944 – May 8, 1945. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-8018-5668-6.

French civilians suffered terribly during the build up to D-Day and the battle of Normandy. Around 20,000 civilians were killed in the Normandy battles, with over 8,000 in Calvados. A further 300,000 were made homeless and huge numbers of livestock were killed. In the church Saint-Martin in Ver-sur Mer there is a plaque dedicated to the town's civilian victims on 6 June.