Photographs of War-Devastated Caen
Language of Materials
75 photographs and postcards (approx).
Biographical / Historical
As an important port and road and rail centre, Caen had been vital to Allied success after D-Day. The plan had been for the British forces to seize the city in the first day or two after the landings and then to take the battle out into open countryside and towards the Seine. When this did not happen, it was necessary to keep the German forces committed to the city and to prevent them from switching attention to the all out defence of the port of Cherbourg which was essential to the Allies and which the American forces were to take.
During the battle for Caen, the 14th century Church of St. Peter lost its famous spire, while the castle of William the Conqueror and the 17th century town hall were almost destroyed. However, three outstanding examples of 11th century Norman architecture were preserved, namely the Abbaye aux Hommes founded by William the Conqueror, who was buried there, and the Abbaye aux Dames founded by Queen Matilda, and the Church of St. Nicholas. The university which was founded in 1432 was destroyed, but has been rebuilt.
An imposing memorial to the Battle of Normandy (1944) has been erected in the old rebuilt castle as a peace monument and museum.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
- Photographs of War-Devasted Caen, 1900-1945