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D-Day Dordogne France. Mouleydier remembers June 1944

With the 75th anniversary of D-Day this June, many people will be focused on the heroic events that took place in Normandy.  In the weeks that followed the landing of the Allied troops on France’s northern coast, fierce battles with the Nazis were fought.  Throughout the summer of 1944, it is estimated that more than 400,000 soldiers on both sides were killed or wounded (according to the website).  But the battles were not limited to Normandy.  The village of Mouleydier in the Dordogne department suffered its own tragedy.  

Photos from years gone by.  Today the village of Mouleydier is thriving and beautiful

Nestled on the Dordogne River 10 kilometers east of Bergerac, Mouleydier is a thriving village these days.  Cafés, restaurants and shops supplement the usual array of businesses.  I’ve visited here several times to shop for unusual glass gifts at Verrerie de Douyo.  However, until one recent day, I hadn’t noticed the memorial to this martyred village just across the road. The events happening 600 km away on the beaches of Normandy inspired Resistance fighters to action throughout France in June 1944.  In the Bergerac area, prisoners at Mauzac prison and internment camp rebelled, and acts of guerrilla-type activities against the Nazis increased.  In Mouleydier, skirmishes on June 11 and 18 broke out involving Resistance members from Groupe Soleil, Alexis (Lot), Cerisier (Lalinde), Marsouin (Belvès), Loiseau (Prigonrieux), Bertrand (Eymet), Leduc (Beaumont), Pistolet (Bergerac), and from Saint-Germin-et-Mons.  

This bridge in Mouleydier was the site of a Nazi assault on June 21, 1944.

Few ancient buildings can be found in Mouleydier; the village was burned down by the Nazis in June 1944

On June 21, 1944, the village was attacked by the 11th Panzer Division of the Wehrmacht.  Mouleydier was looted and burned to the ground, and 22 members of the Resistance were killed.  The neighboring village of Pressignac was also destroyed.   According to the blog post titled written by Jacky Tronel, (another source for this article), the total fatalities in and around Mouleydier numbered 65, and 175 buildings were destroyed.

The village of Mouleydier is situated upstream from Bergerac on the dordogne River

  Following the war, Mouleydier was one of 19 Dordogne villages to receive the Croix de Guerre 1939-1945 honor. The village of Mouleydier honors the memory of the tragic events of June 21, 1944 with a park situated on the site of the battle.  Benches, flower boxes and a rushing stream provide a tranquil setting in which to reflect and relax.  Several historical photographs are embedded in a park wall, and placards provide written accounts.    

According to a representative from Mouleydier’s Mairie, no official observance will be held in the village for the 75th anniversary on June 21, 2019, although a ceremony is planned in nearby Lalinde.  I imagine that on this day the residents of Mouleydier will think about their village’s past before returning their thoughts to the vibrant and beautiful village they call home.

Written and photographed by Mimi Beck Knudsen