Posted by: secondeguerremondialeclairegrube | March 4, 2014

Normandy in 1944

Normandy in 1944

Grüß Gott !

American soldiers, during the Liberation of France, discover an old and primitive country. A vestige of the past.

What soldiers do / Sex and the American GI in World War II France / Mary Louise Roberts / Chicago Press / 2013:

« You should see how they are equipped ! »

« They have an organization, these Americans ! »

« Incroyable ! an intelligent army, I never would have believed it ! »

« The arrival of the Americans suggested a new future : « A new world order had come to be born and established ».

……

« If the Normans associated the army with the future, the Americans linked Norman society to the past. To them France was a vestige of a primitive era. « Everything seems old in Normandy », wrote Ernie Pyle in Stars and Stripes. In Cherbourg, Pyle found nothing but old and worn buildings and was not ashamed to admit he liked the regular and nice californian copies of Norman architecture better. »

« In his journal Giles also noted that « the buildings, what’s left of them, look like they’d been here since time began. » « You really should see some of these places these people over here have as homes, » wrote Charles Taylor to his wife. « Most of them are made of mud or cement, rock with shale roofs or straw thached roofs. »

« They are way behind the times – the women still wash clothes in the little streams and pound the garments with stones ; the cows and pigs and chickens still live in the same buildings as the family. » Normandy was not even archaic ; it was beyond time altogether. « We marched through a village where the people lived like their great, great, great-parents did. »

« Their homes were made out of dried mud with thatched roofs, and the pigs and chickens were allowed to run around in the kitchen. They wore crude wooden shoes when working out in the fields until dark, and their evening meal was soup and bread with an apple for dessert. »

« A.L. was particularly shoked by the lack of plumbing and the fact that the Normans relieved themselves with the animals. »

« You would laugh to see them for they sure look funny with their patched clothes and wooden shoes… »

« As a sign of a primitive culture, animal manure became a GI preoccupation. « They are a hundred years behind in their ways, too » wrote Giles in his journal. The cow stables, he complained, were right next to the kitchen, where the smells of urine and manure became suffocating. He was particularly appalled by « the manure pile in front of everybody’s doorstep. »

« Infanteryman K. was amazed to see peasants clean out the toilets soldiers were using, take the contents, and spread it on their field. « But that is the way it was, and all the French towns looked and smelled alike. » Chester H. noted his impressions of Normandy as he rode through the country by jeep : « Foul smell of the yards and the manure. Bad sewage. » Ironically by the end of the war some Americans eventually came to prefer the Germans because, even though there were the enemies, at least they were clean. »

« For example, French toilets or pissoirs offended the GIs because in the absence of any enclosure, you just walked up to a wall to relieve yourself. Not only that, French women would greet you while you were doing it. »

« Again like « native » peoples of the US imperial past, Normans seemed to have no shame. One day while taking a small breack in a Norman village, infantryman Davis I. was stunned by a man who waved to a woman while urinating against a wall : « As a true French Gentleman, he took his hand off his penis and used it to tip his hat to the lady and greet her in French, while holding his penis with the other hand and continuing to urinate. »

« Would be good, » wrote one lieutenant in Normandy to his wife, « to be back with civilized people once more. »

*******************************

« The Americans were representatives of a new world which had come to save the old one. »

Claire GRUBE

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