I was 31 years old in June of 1944,
and I lived on my stepmother's farm, which was located on the Periers Road, near
the southwest entrance to the city of Carentan. My fiancé had been captured
in 1940 by the Germans, and I would not see him again until after the end of the
war in 1945. Our living conditions were very difficult. We had ration cards for
bread, sugar, and meat. However we were, just the same, better off on the farm
in regards to feeding ourselves than the folks in the villages. My stepmother's
farm was requisitioned by the Germans and served as an infirmary. We were obliged
to live in the livestock buildings, but the experience of living with the Germans
was not too unpleasant for us - we got along ok.
time before the D-Day Invasion, folks started to worry because there were many
aircraft and increased aerial bombings as the month of June approached, but no
one knew what was happening.
On June 5th, there were some strategic bombings:
electrical lines, railroads, and bridges. At Carentan, the bridge of Saint-Hilaire-Petitville
over the Taute river was bombed.
events began, we saw large numbers of paratroopers to the north, and in the direction
of the sea. The wounded Germans came to our farm from across the swamps to seek
medical assistance. The farm was full of Germans - they removed all the hay available
and the wounded were placed in all available spaces until the whole area was full.
Some bled to death there; the gravely wounded were moved away. As time passed,
the situation at the farm became more and more difficult for I and my stepmother.
The Germans became very nervous. Our neighbor, Charles Pigault, came to find us
and tell us that we mustn't remain there because it was becoming too dangerous
- the farm was no longer a secure place to be. We followed Mr. Pigault to his
farm, and found a group of 40 other refugies.
were locked in the house, and we could not leave, nor show ourselves. As soon
as the Germans would see us, they would shoot, knowing just the same that we were
civilians. We didn't move in the house, nor did we show ourselves at the windows.
The men placed a table and other objects in a way that would protect us. The more
time that passed, the meaner the Germans became. During the following days, the
battle unfolded around us, and artillery rounds continually fell - one hit the
The first Americans that arrived were accompanied with a tank; the
men that came to the door we saw arrive in the courtyard. We opened the door,
and were obligated to leave the house, because the top of the house (thatch) had
taken gunfire, and it was on fire. They never wanted us to stay at our house either
- we had to leave for Carentan, on the road amongst the Americans that were heading
to the front, and amongst the Germans that had been taken prisoner. During periods
of combat, we had to descend into the ditches for protection. Those moments brought
us great fear.
Arriving in Carentan, we went
to the home of Mrs. Lecomte. There we had a visit from an American who seemed
to me to be drunk. He held his bayonette in hand, however continued to drop it.
He put all of us in a line, and took one of the men to take him through the house,
including all of the rooms. Once done, such that he was convinced that there were
only civilians there, he relaxed, and we even provided food. We only slept one
night in that house, for it was not prudent to stay there. The area around the
house was on fire, and there was great risk that the house would also catch on
We then moved again, to a small furniture store where we stayed several
days. After a last move into another house in Carentan, we finally returned home,
healthy and rescued, to the farm that was now far away from the front line.
madeleine Poisson (November 23, 2003)
from French by Thad J. Russell