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The emotion of being liberated from Nazi occupation was so sweet and intense that the French refugees burst into song, a spontaneous rendition of "La Marseillaise" that echoed around the underground network of dank, dark tunnels where they had been sheltering for weeks since D-Day, amid filth, fleas and the rumble of bombs.Without the huge underground stone quarries that sheltered thousands of people in and around the city of Caen, a major objective of the Allied force that landed on beaches to the north on June 6, 1944, the civilian toll of roughly 20,000 French dead in the battle for Normandy might have been steeper still.Archeologists using laser scanners are mapping the quarry where Lethimonnier and other families found refuge in the outskirts of Caen, shedding new light on an under-explored aspect of D-Day history dominated by Allied military exploits.D-Day planners expected Allied troops to quickly take the strategic city but German resistance was so furious that its liberation instead took six weeks.Lethimonnier says she has come to understand that destruction couldn't be avoided.
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