From the July 15, 1944 Edition of Stars and Stripes

Amid the ruins of battle-ravaged towns and villages, Allied troops joined yesterday with the liberated people of Normandy in celebrating Bastille Day, France’s equivalent of America’s Independence Day.

Cherbourg saw the largest demonstration. French, British and American troops marched together in a parade that led to the Place de la Republique, where they were cheered by a gathering of 3,000.

In a public ceremony in front of the municipal theater, the Place Marshal Petain was formally renamed Place Gen. De Gaulle.

Caen still within range of enemy fire, could ill afford public demonstrations. However, at a simple ceremony early yesterday morning, the Croix de Guerre was conferred on five members of the French resistance movement.

Members of the French underground as well as French troops fighting on the Normandy front, were paid high tribute by Gen. Eisenhower in a Bastille Day message over the American Broadcasting Station in Europe.

“Our common victory will permit you to bring back, in France, that liberty born in France 155 years ago today–that liberty without which you cannot have either equality or fraternity, those two other ideals which the world owes to the French people,” declared the Supreme Allied Commander.

Public worship and simple ceremonies at war memorials, decorated with wreaths and the flags of France, Britain and the U.S., for the most part marked the observance of the day throughout liberated Normandy.

cherbourg bastille day 1944

American soldiers march during the Bastille Day parade in Cherbourg.

For Further Reading Check Out:

Overlord: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy

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