The scene: somewhere in Northern France British troops have pushed the Germans back towards Berlin and secured the perimeter. As the dust settles and a semblance of normality returns to the countryside a woman in the French Resistance comes out to greet the British.
A photographer attached to the regiment is on hand to capture the moment as she stands demurely with gun in hand, sleeves rolled up as if ready to do a job of work, no matter how unpalatable that work might be. She smiles enigmatically to the camera. Is it a grin, a look of satisfaction, an expression that says that such young eyes have seen too much? Is it the blatant confident flirtation of a young woman pleased to see the soldiers she has been waiting for?
Perhaps it is all these. It is a triumphal picture – the moment in history in which a young French woman is at last free to show her face again after the Normandy landings, and a moment in which she begins to transform into being a civilian once more. There is, no doubt, a degree of showing off in it, too. The moment is captured.
The picture, captioned only “Normandie, Aout 1944” is a little blurred, grainy and discoloured, but speaks plenty of the world to come when Europe is at peace again.
Find this interesting? For a longer view of how the modern world is connected to the events of 1945, come to Sing Sing Sing The Three Belles’ stage show on Saturday 2nd February at The New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth.