Arlette Varin lived with her family near the railway station in Lisieux, Normandy. During the German occupation daily life was almost as usual, although the German troops were stationed near their house. One day Arlette and her brother were playing in the garden when they heard an air raid alarm. The family ran into the kitchen, the children took shelter under the table as they were taught at school.
That night, 6 June 1944 at 20:00, Lisieux was one of cities that endured heavy Allied bombing as part of Operation Overlord. The bombardment devastated a large part of town including Arlette’s house. Arlette survived, but her brother was killed and her grandmother badly wounded. After the bombing Arlette was evacuated to a farm in the countryside, together with fifty other people. On their way to the farm the group was attacked by Allied planes who mistook them for German soldiers.
Arlette returned home a few days later where she found her dead mother and her seriously wounded father under the ruins of their house. Two weeks later her grandmother died of her injuries.
After the war, Arlette’s family went back to the damaged city of Lisieux. She finished school and found a job as a secretary, first in Lisieux, then in Caen, where she still lives. Despite all her losses Arlette never felt any resentment against the Allied soldiers. But she suffered intensely from the sense of guilt that her brother had died while she survived.