|Fate of history|
During the month of may, it's a saturday, the 29th, as I needed to go to Rennes, I advise a few storekeepers of Dinan that they might have the benefit of a lorry to take them to Rennes... My old friend Hyppolite who was aware of our projects asked the driver to give him also a lift, it's a real occasion....
On this nice may morning, we are leaving... At the edge of the Coëtquen forest, standing on a milestone, an owl watches us approachin, it only flew away when the lorry came close. An owl, I say, is a bad sign, what is going to happen to us to day ? ... It is the way Mrs. Norman, who was then the manager of a packaging factory at Taden, near Dinan, relates her day of may 29, 1943.. She did not know , that near this place, a few hours later, a flying fortress crew was about to crash on return from a bombing mission and that she was going to watch it live.
When arrived in Rennes and before splitting in town to do our shopping, we make an appointment to meet on the Mall, in view of our evening return. It's a nice day, on the streets we can see some light-coloured dresses : it's a market day and there is more people than usual in Rennes. Around 4 PM., Marcelle and I were calling on friends in the "Croix de la Mission" area. The air-raid siren howling goes off and almost at the same time, airplanes which are flying over us, drop their bombs in a dreadful thunderous noise that I'll never forget. I shall never forget as well, the noise of a collapsing house, of breaking window panes on the street and the terror which seizes you.
Instictively, Marcelle hangs on me : "Don't leave me, don't leave me ! She implores, Saint mary save us ! Pray these dear ladies and the bombs keep falling... falling all around us, it's infernal, we have not even time to run under cover that the nearby house is already spread over the street. We stay tight together, death skim past us, the moment is distressing. Everything lasted less than ten minutes ! ...
Hyppolite did not come back from his trip to Rennes...
*Extract from " Mon usine sous l'occupation" Courtesy Mrs. Norman with the kind editors autorization.
Rennes often bombed
It's on february 18th that Rennes will be first bombed, the target was a "Kriegsmarine" base located on Lorient street, it will also be the target of another bombing mission on the 26th of the same month. Both air raids with strategic and military targets do not worry the Rennes population which is not too scared, due to their efficiency and their accuracy.
That will be different on march 8th, a shrove monday on the Champ de Mars square where a fun fair is at it's height. Around 2.30 PM, it's a downpour of bombs which catch the Rennes inhabitants by surprise, more than 300 of them will loose their life. Over the next two coming months, there will be almost daily air raid warnings.
On may 29th, it's a navy depot, near the railways station which is the US Air Force objective: five hundred bombs are used (132 tons). Hunted by german aircrafts, their cruising altitude is too high, inaccuracy, panic... The stick of bombs is spread out from La Robiquette (northern district) up to the railways station : 210 Rennes inhabitants will die during this air raid. Six flying fortresses will be reported missing together with 64 crew members.