MARKET DAY IN CHERBOURG

France

July 1944

Shortly after my unit arrived in Cherbourg in late July, the town had a Market Day. It was a frequent event, but was the first one since the Germans had been forced out.

I happened to be off duty, and decided to attend and take some pictures, too. Local people came on foot, and other arrived in horse-drawn carriages and buggies.

The carriages were interesting. Some were enclosed with black canvas sides and top, but others

Had just a roof over the top. That day I also saw for the first time, dog-powered two-wheeled carts.

Note the ladies’ tall hats.

Note the ladies’ tall hats.

The vendors set up tables along the main street and displayed a variety of vegetables, clothing and other household items. I noticed the strange-looking hats some of the women wore. They were a narrow, tall (12”-15”), round pipe-like affair and were held on top of the ladies’ heads with a ribbon, tied under their chins. I pointed to one and asked the lady who wore it, “Quoi?” (What is it?)

She proceeded to tell me all about it, but of course, I didn’t understand French. Standing closer, I did see it was crocheted linen and starched. I believe these “hats” were traditional with the ladies of the Brest Peninsula.

As I strolled along the street, suddenly, there was a lot of commotion. Four dog-pulled carts came down the street with a young woman in each cart. The ladies’ hair had been cut off, their hands were tied behind them, and all were crying. A man followed each cart directing it down the street. These men were not Gendarmes (French police), but appeared to be members of the Communist FFI (Force Françaises de I’ Interieus.)

As the procession passed the market, the French people threw tomatoes, cabbage, eggs and insults at the girls. I stood the watching and taking pictures.

Dog cart like those the girls rode in.

Dog cart like those the girls rode in.

The carts moved down the street and I turned to a French man standing by me. “What’s going on?”

In mixed English, he and some other French told me that the girls had been fraternizing with the Germans. They were being taken to the dry dock at the port where they would be shot!

Le (Dec. 14) says, “I thought of following the procession, but decided against it. I did have some pics of that event. But years later, while attending a French exchange student affair, I passed around an album containing those pictures. When the album came back to me, someone had removed those and a few other pictures from the album.”

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