Saturday, May 4, 2013

Stained Glass Windows: Paratrooper Memorial Windows - Sainte-Mère-Église, Normandy, France

Interesting Places I've Photographed
Paratrooper Memorial Windows 
Sainte-Mère-Église, Normandy, France
Topic: Stained Glass Windows
Virgin Mary and Paratroopers
Archangel Michael  -  Liberation Memorial Window

GPS: N49° 24.520; W001° 18.975

Quick Description: 

A pair of stained glass windows in the Eglise Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption at Sainte-Mère-Église honors the paratroopers who liberated the town during the D-Day invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944.  Examine the detail in the full size image of these windows - they are amazing. 

Long Description:

Sainte-Mère-Église was first occupied by German forces on June 18th 1940 and they remained billeted in the town. On the night of June 5th - 6th a house on the town square caught fire. The French townspeople gathered around the town pump, now a national monument, to form a bucket brigade in order to put out the fire. The German troops, awakened by the commotion gathered in the square to watch.

Unfortunately, for the U.S. forces, this was the night when units of the 82nd Airborne Division secretly parachuted into the town in preparation for the D-Day invasion of Normandy. They were clearly visible in the light of the fire. The surprise was lost and the occupying German troops opened fire. However, by 04:30, the town was taken by members of the 505th led by Lieutenant-Colonel Edward C. Krause and Saint Mere Eglise became the was the first town to be liberated in France.

On that day a famous event occurred this was depicted in the film "The Longest Day". Paratrooper John Steel managed to land on the church and his chute caught on the steeple. He hung there while the fighting continued on the ground for two hours before being cut down by the Germans, taken prisoner and later released by the Americans. An effigy of John Steel can be seen on the church in the town square.

Inside the church there are two stained glass windows, one shows the Virgin Mary surrounded by paratroopers, the other shows St. Michael (patron saint of the paratroopers). They were dedicated in 1972.

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