Provence & Côte d'Azur: Allied forces destroyed many of the city's districts
What happened during the 1944 bombing of Nice?
Just four months before France was eventually liberated from Nazi rule, the Allies launched a “strategic” bombing campaign throughout the south of France. Nice was just one of the cities affected by the attacks with Grenoble, Chambery, Lyon and Saint Etienne also suffering much destruction and death. This Saturday marks the 68th anniversary of the attack.
In the early morning of 26th May 1944, bomb-laden aircraft flew over Nice in a series of waves. The alert was given and Nice’s sirens filled the air.
The Allies were aiming for the Saint Roch train station and quickly found their target, decimating the transport hub and the almost all of the surrounding area. The occupying German troops were scattered and disorganised by the explosions and the entire city was thrown into uproar.
In all, over 380 Niçois civilians were killed in the onslaught and 480 were injured by the blasts. Homes, workplaces and historical monuments were obliterated and following the Allies offensive around 600 buildings were categorised as “destroyed or seriously damaged”. Hundreds of people went missing in the chaos, some completely vanishing and others being later discovered under the rubble.
The neighbours of Riquier, Pasteur, Abattoirs and Republique were virtually raised to the ground by the attacks. Almost 6,000 people were affected by the terrible bombings that have left a violent mark on the Côte d’Azur.
Throughout WWII, some 1,500 villages, towns and cities were specifically targeted by the Anglo-American military aerial fleets. Their so called “tactical demolition strategies” directly caused the deaths of tens of thousands of townspeople and wrecked havoc in each of the nation’s regions.
France was later liberated by the Allies in August 1944 and the tyrannical Vichy government – which had been controlling the “zone libre” (free zone) – was overthrown but it would take years for the country to recover.