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Title: Children under the allied bombs, France 1940-1945
Author: Dodd, Lindsey
ISNI:       0000 0004 2718 2625
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis compares the experiences of children who survived the Allied bombing of France during World War U, in which around 57,000 civilians died. It focuses on three towns, Boulogne-Billancourt, Brest and Lille, each of which faced different practical and administrative challenges during the war, and contributes to the growing body of work on the air war over France. It weaves together evidence from national, departmental and municipal archives in the UK and France, the oral narratives of 36 French people, and the written accounts of seven others. This qualitative approach provides insight into children's understandings of war, rarely perceptible in archival sources, and of vivid memories that last into adulthood. It begins by asking why children and bombing are (largely) absent from histories of the Occupation, and proposes three hypotheses which drive the subsequent analysis: that French children were little traumatised by bombing; that children have little agency and thus cannot act independently in response to public world events; and that children understand so little of the world around them that little remains in memory that is of use to historians. All three are shown to be in need of qualification. Throughout, the thesis questions the idea of bombing as a 'black hole' in French collective memory, problematising the notion of 'collective memory' and suggesting the need for a greater emphasis on private and shared memories, rooted in lived experiences in the past. The thesis contains five parts echoing the temporal experience of bombing. It begins by introducing the people and places which provide the case studies for analysis; it moves on to expectations of bombing, looking at children's pre-war expectations of war and preparations for bombing. It then turns to experiencing bombing, children's reactions, the evolution of the response at national, local and family level, the aftermath of bombing and its consequences for those who were bombed out, or became refugees or evacuees. Explaining bombing is the subject of the fourth part, which illustrates the representation of bombing in propaganda, and how the narrators themselves explain what happened. The final part evaluates the legacy of bombing on the narrators, on France, on children and on memory from a present-day perspective.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available