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'Over there' 1944/45 - Americans in the liberation of France: their perceptions of, and relations with, France and the French

Thomson, Andrew A. (1996) 'Over there' 1944/45 - Americans in the liberation of France: their perceptions of, and relations with, France and the French. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86156) (KAR id:86156)


Over 2.3 million U.S. citizens found themselves shipped to France in 1944-45, most of them ordinary men conscripted into the Army. This study centres on the experiences of these Americans in France - how they prepared for dealing with the French; their perceptions of France and its citizens on the eve of their arrival; the welcome they experienced, the giving and receiving of help; the changing relationship in the differing phases of the Liberation; and the legacy of the interaction - its immediate legacy, and the legacy of veterans' feelings towards the French in the 1990s. How the interation of ordinary Americans and French worked out is the key theme.

The study draws primarily on U.S. Army records, records of Civil Affairs operations, and the results of the author's questionnaire of veterans with experience of France.

Following an overall good interaction in Normandy, Franco-American relations on the ground reached a highpoint with the sweep across northern France and the invasion of southern Franch in Auguts 1944. In the twelve months from September 1944 there was a serious deterioration in relations, the principal factor being the effect of the passage of time. However, although the experience thus ended on a very low note, on balance the interaction had worked out reasonably well. Given the circumstances - that it was wartime, that the war dragged on for much longer than it had appeared that it would, that soldiers everywhere are likely to contain a rogue element, and that there was a language barrier - the interaction was a healthy one on balance. Because the American involvement was devoid of overtly colonial or bad historical overtones, it was more straightforward than it would otherwise have been and bore up reasonably well under the strains that did afflict it - a mix of practical and cultural strains, rather than 'colonial' ones.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86156
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: World War II; US Army; Normandy
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D731 World War II (1939-1945)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:31 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:27 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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