By Philip Vickers
Ordered to continue to Normandy to comprise the Allied landings, the second SS "Das Reich" Panzer Division's trip changed into a nightmare of ambushes and reprisals. SS reprisals culminated within the bloodbath at Oradour, most likely the biggest killing of civilians at the Western entrance. seriously illustrated within the Battleground Europe variety.
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Additional info for Das Reich (Battleground Europe: France South West)
The prevailing atmosphere was one of intense calm, a scene in which simple farming folk would go about their rural tasks in this quiet corner of the countryside. As if to emphasise this, as we traipsed along the lane towards the farm, a little red tractor trundled past. Driving was a tall, gaunt man with a drooping moustache, wearing a green boiler suit, and clinging on to the back was a short, slightly hunched man with the same vague expression as his companion. Monsieur L’Heureux raised an arm in greeting, calling out ‘Bonjour Cédric!
Thanks for that boost of confidence,’ I said. ’ asked Hero, twisting the knife. ’ I tittered girlishly, embarrassed that I could not even draw on a smattering of schoolboy French. Because of my father’s job as a high-powered trouble-shooter for Scottish & Newcastle Breweries, a large portion of my childhood seemed to have been spent moving home and changing schools, and consequently I had missed out on the crucial start of French lessons and was forced – by a hideous twist of fate – to be subjected to double periods of Extra Maths while my peers were fast becoming bilingual.
Said Hero, bringing me back to the here and now. ’ Monsieur L’Heureux, who professed to speak no English, smirked cannily as if he understood much more than he let on. Urged to step over a rickety wire fence at the edge of the copse, we found ourselves enclosed within a tunnel-like, tree-lined pathway, through which the dappled sunlight filtered. This, we were told, was the route à la Pentecôte, an ancient communal way of historical and religious significance, which formed part of a pilgrimage held in honour of St Maximin.