I’ve forgotten a lot of my history about the Americans (and other countries) landing in Normandy. My sister’s husband is a real history buff and he wanted to take a tour of the beach areas. We hired a guide which turned out to be a very good idea as he could tell us all of the history and could take us right where everything happened. His name was Christophe Rault (firstname.lastname@example.org).
St Mere Eglise is the village where the paratroupers first dropped into France. One of the parachutes of an American got caught on a steeple of a church of this first town liberated in France and he hung there for hours pretending to be dead. This was all shown in an old American movie, The Longest Day. They have a dummy hanging on the church now to show how it happened. The whole town seems to be devoted to this happening. There is an interesting museum there showing tanks, airplanes, photos, German equipment and more to give you an idea of all that went on during this battle.
Our guide also took us to some German bunkers. We went undergound. It was amazing how huge they were with tunnels, air ventilation and communication lines everywhere. I think the main way to “take them out” was to get rid of the large gun which stuck out of the hole shown here. Ships from the nearby ocean were bombing them to accomplish most of this.
Another church in which Bob Wright, and Kenneth Moore -two medics from the 501st and 101st Airborne division-tended to over 80 American and German wounded men after the early hours of the American paratrooper drop into Normandy. Here for over 72 non-stop hours, Wright and Moore attended to the wounded from June 6th to 7th. The Germans took this town more than once during several days of fierce fightings and let them continue what they were doing.
A window dedicated to those two men. All of the churches suffered horrible damage during the war and most windows were new and many in Normandy have windows showing paratroupers or American symbols. No where will Americans feel more welcomed and appreciated than in Normandy. When the paratroupers knocked on the doors of the French after dropping into various villages, they were welcomed inside and allowed to set up headquarters.
Just as we were leaving the church, the sun came out and illuminated a stained glass window of a bishop in a red robe. You can almost see it exactly in the image on the floor.