The situation in Bayeux

Bayeux was the first town to be liberated in Continental France. 

 

Bayeux was the first town to be liberated in Continental France. The town was freed on 7th June 1944 by units of the British army.

The Germans had fled the town on 6th June 1944. Local Resistants managed, in the nick of time, to inform the Allies, who abandoned their plans to bombard the town: Bayeux was saved.

Situated close to the landing beaches and saved from any bombardment, Bayeux became a crossroad for the transit of soldiers and civilians. It was also the place which de Gaulle chose to re-establish the basis of Republican Law. 

The hospital

Because Bayeux had not been bombarded, the infrastructures and the hospital were operational. These could accommodate not only the Allies but also refugees fleeing the battles. Many injured civilians and soldiers took refuge in the hospital. Very quickly a need for additional hospitals arose. The Seminary - which houses today the Bayeux Tapestry - and schools were requisitioned. Bayeux henceforth became a hospital-town for the whole duration of the Battle of Normandy.

Bayeux, a strategic location

Bayeux was a strategic location for the Allies: thousands of soldiers and vehicles went through Bayeux to get to the battle scenes. Military vehicles could not use the narrow street of the medieval city. To facilitate the movement of equipment, Allied Engineers built a ring-road around the city: the by-pass.

Bayeux held a major role for the whole duration of the Battle of Normandy.

The speech of General de Gaulle

De Gaulle chose Bayeux to make his first speech on French soil on 14th June 1944, France being in the process of liberation. The enthusiastic reception he received from the crowd served as plebiscite. The French legitimated de Gaulle in the eyes of the Allies.

De Gaulle put François Coulet in charge of restoring Republican law in France, by appointing him Head of the civil administration.

 

With the contribution of Rémy Desquesnes
Historian