France / Monument
Erected after the war, this monument evokes De Gaulle’s return to France in Normandy on 14 June 1944, four years after leaving his country.
The Cross of Lorraine, designed by the architect Guy Lemerre, evokes the return of General de Gaulle to French soil on 14 June 1944 after four years of exile and fighting. The monument was erected at the boundary between Graye-sur-Mer and Courseulles-sur-Mer. It is eighteen meters tall and weighs six tons.
The Cross of Lorraine is a double cross that appeared in the symbolism of the Dukes of Anjou, who became Dukes of Lorraine from 1431. Since Joan of Arc carried it on her banner, this cross has become a symbol of national independence, as well as a sign of rallying in both victory and defeat. The Free French Forces adopted the symbol on 1 July 1940 as a response to the Nazi swastika. It was later generally adopted throughout Free France and appeared on many insignia and monuments.
Commissioned by the patriotic association Présence du Gaullisme and built by the Comité du Débarquement, this monument was inaugurated on 16 June 1990 by Admiral Philippe de Gaulle, son of General Charles de Gaulle.
On 14 June 1944, between Courseulles-sur-Mer and Graye-sur-Mer, General de Gaulle landed aboard the Free French Naval Forces destroyer named ‘La Combattante’, accompanied by eighteen people. Following a long and difficult process, De Gaulle was authorised to go to the Allied bridgehead in Normandy.
He was greeted by the Scottish Major Sanderson, sent by General Montgomery, before being taken to his headquarters established at the Château de Creullet in Creully. The rest of the delegation, led by François Coulet and the Colonel de Chevigné, headed for Bayeux.
At 15:30, General de Gaulle arrived at Bayeux. Welcomed by the city council, he settled there in the subprefecture. Here, the portraits of Marshal Pétain as well as François Coulet, appointed first commissioner of the Republic for the liberated territories, and Pierre de Chevigné, military commander of liberated areas, still hung on the wall. He was accompanied by General Koenig, Rear Admiral d'Argenlieu, Gaston Palewski and General Béthouart. De Gaulle then met with Subprefect Rochat to discuss the situation at the bridgehead.
De Gaulle then went on foot through the streets of Bayeux before reaching the castle square to give a speech.
After leaving Bayeux, he visited Isigny-sur-Mer in ruins and then Grandcamp-les-Bains, before returning to Courseulles and boarding ‘La Combattante’. De Gaulle left for England on the same evening.