This week in the War, 17–23 April 1944: Paris suffers heavy bombing
Distant view of Sacré Coeur from a Paris neighbourhood that had been hit during the Allied air raid of 21 April 1944 [Bundesarchiv Bild 146 1994-033-18]
This week in the war, on 21 April 1944, Allied planes bombed north central Paris. The main target was the La Chapelle railway marshalling yards. Their destruction was part of an overall plan to destroy communications in northern France prior to the D-Day landings. Over 600 civilians died.
In Dans Paris occupé: Journal d’Hélène Pitrou, 1940-1945 (by Paule du Bouchet), the fictional Hélène notes in her entry for 21 avril 1944: “Terrible bombardment. And the third night spent in the cellar!”
Dans Paris occupe: Journal d’Helene Pitrou—–by Paule du Bouchet (Gallimard Jeunesse, 2005) [Photograph by Edith-Mary Smith]
Hélène goes on to describe being packed in like sardines and how there is a baby who doesn’t stop crying. Hélène has to sleep on top of a sack of potatoes; in fact she gets virtually no sleep at all (“pas fermé l’oeil
”) and is freezing cold all night.
Bombing or not, she vows to spend the next night in her own bed!