Interesting Places I've Photographed
Topic: World War II Sites
GPS: N49° 24.497; W001° 18.913
Sainte-Mère-Église is a commune in the Manche department in Normandy, France. It was the first town to be liberated in France during World War II s liberation monument is located in the town square.
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.
|Effigy of John Steele|
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.
In the square there is a liberation monument. A tall circular brown stone column is inscribed in black raised letters in French and English:
5. 6 JUIN LES 82°
ET 101° DIVISIONS U.S.A.
LIBERENT CE CANTON
5TH. 6TH JUNE 1944. THE
82ND AND 101ST DIV.
U.S.A. OF PARATROOPERS
LIBERATED THE DISTRICT