The following excerpts are from an AP story released on August 26, 1944. It was the first eyewitness dispatch to come out of Paris at the time. It was passed by field censorship and transmitted by regular press channels.
ALLIES ENTER PARIS
by Don Whitehead
PARIS, AUG. 25, 1944 (AP) – Street fighting raged through the heart of Paris today as American and French columns drove into the city from the south amid a tumultuous welcome from hundreds of thousands of Parisians.
There was so much confusion and excitement over the entrance into the city that it is difficult to give a coherent account of the events that moved so swiftly, once the French armored column began rolling through the heavy morning fog that made vehicles looks like prehistoric monsters, appearing out of the swamps of creation.
But when the last enemy resistance crumbled at the gate to Paris, then this heart of France went mad-wildly, violently mad – with happiness.
All the emotions suppressed by four years of German domination surged through the people. The streets of the city, as we entered, were like a combined Mardi Gras, Fourth of July celebration, American Legion convention and New Year’s Eve in Times Square all packed into one.
[…] at 9:57 a.m. my jeep rolled through the gates into Paris.
Never do I expect to see such scenes as I saw on the streets of Paris. There was only a narrow lane through which the armor could roll. Men and women cried with joy. They grabbed the arms and hands of soldiers and cheered until their voices were hoarse.
Men and women, old and young, and children stormed the jeep every time the column stopped and they were wild with emotion.
Crowds were banked from the center of the streets to the sidewalks in a colorful, cheering throng which stretched for miles. There seemed to be no end and apparently everyone in Paris except the Germans and collaborationists were standing there to cheer, shout, cry and leave themselves exhausted with happiness.
Our column moved to a point one block from the Luxembourg. Then, from all sides burst machine-gun fire. From housetops and windows guns rattled. Machine guns of tanks opened up in reply. We leaped from the jeep and took cover behind a tank.
Jerry Beatson of Rockford, III., was beside me and leveled his carbine at the top of the building. The gun cracked in my ear.
“There’s one – up there,” he cried, and kept firing at the rooftop.
Bullets rattled on the streets and glanced off with ugly whines.
The crowds, which a few minutes before lined the streets, melted as if a blast from a furnace had hit a snowbank. Then the streets were terribly lonely and barren, except for armor with guns clattering.
My driver and I leaped into a jeep and raced back down the street, but another burst of machine-gun fire sent us diving for the curb. We felt bare and exposed there in the street.
F.F.I resistance leaders crouched and ran from door to door, pointing to the rooftops and windows.
One Frenchman said there were many German snipers in civilian clothes.
Red Cross aid men dressed in white ran out of a doorway with a stretcher. A nurse in starched white followed them. They picked up a wounded man and laid him on a stretcher, while waving a Red Cross flag.
An F.F.I. member ran up to me and cried in English: “Give us arms and ammunition. We want guns and bullets. That’s all we ask. We’ll clean out these --.
“We haven’t enough ammunition and most of us have only pistols.”
Ahead of us, patriots crouched along the buildings and answered the enemy fire. Lying there, I felt lonely and lost in the city which all of us had dreamed of entering as a joyous occasion.