D-DAY MEMORY TOUR

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NEPTUNE OPERATION

The Normandy landings were the landing operations on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II. Codenamed Operation Neptune and often referred to as D-Day, it was the largest seaborne invasion in history. The operation began the liberation of German-occupied France (and later Europe) from Nazi control, and laid the foundations of the Allied victory on the Western Front.

Planning for the operation began in 1943. In the months leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted a substantial military deception, codenamed Operation Bodyguard, to mislead the Germans as to the date and location of the main Allied landings. The weather on D-Day was far from ideal and the operation had to be delayed 24 hours; a further postponement would have meant a delay of at least two weeks as the invasion planners had requirements for the phase of the moon, the tides, and the time of day that meant only a few days each month were deemed suitable. Adolf Hitler placed German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in command of German forces and of developing fortifications along the Atlantic Wall in anticipation of an Allied invasion.

The amphibious landings were preceded by extensive aerial and naval bombardment and an airborne assault—the landing of 24,000 AmericanBritish, and Canadian airborne troops shortly after midnight. Allied infantry and armoured divisions began landing on the coast of France at 06:30. The target 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast was divided into five sectors: UtahOmahaGoldJuno, and Sword.

ALBANY & BOSTON OPERATIONS

Mission Albany was a parachute combat assault at night by the U.S. 101st Airborne Division on June 6, 1944, part of the American airborne landings in Normandy during World War II. It was the opening step of Operation Neptune, the assault portion of the Allied invasion of NormandyOperation Overlord. 6,928 paratroopers made their jumps from 443 C-47 Skytrain troop carrier planes into an intended objective area of roughly 15 square miles (39 km2) located in the southeast corner of the Cotentin Peninsula of France five hours ahead of the D-Day landings.[1] The landings were badly scattered by bad weather and German ground fire over an area twice as large, with some troops dropped as far as 20 miles (32 km) away.

The division took most of its objectives on D-Day, but required four days to consolidate its scattered units and complete its mission of securing the left flank and rear of the U.S. VII Corps, reinforced by 2,300 glider infantry troops who landed by sea.

Mission Boston was a parachute combat assault at night by Major General Matthew Ridgway's U.S. 82nd "All American" Airborne Division on June 6, 1944, part of the American airborne landings in Normandy during World War II. Boston was a component element of Operation Neptune, the assault portion of the Allied invasion of Normandycodenamed Operation Overlord. 6,420 paratroopers jumped from nearly 370 C-47 Skytraintroop carrier aircraft into an intended objective area of roughly 10 square miles (26 km2) located on either side of the Merderet river on the Cotentin Peninsula of France, five hours ahead of the D-Day landings.

The drops were scattered by bad weather and German anti-aircraft fire over an area three to four times as large as that planned. Two inexperienced units of the 82nd, the 507th and 508th Parachute Infantry Regiments (PIR), were given the mission of blocking approaches west of the Merderet River, but most of their paratroops missed their drop zones entirely. The veteran 505th PIR jumped accurately and captured its objective, the town of Sainte-Mère-Église, which proved essential to the success of the division.

ATLANTIC WALL

The Atlantic Wall (German: Atlantikwall) was an extensive system of coastal defence and fortifications built by Nazi Germany between 1942 and 1944 along the coast of continental Europe and Scandinavia as a defence against an anticipated Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe from the United Kingdom during World War II. The manning and operation of the Atlantic Wall was administratively overseen by the German Army, with some support from Luftwaffe ground forces. The German Navy maintained a separate coastal defence network, organised into a number of sea defence zones.[1]

Hitler ordered the construction of the fortifications in 1942. Almost a million French workers were drafted to build it. The wall was frequently mentioned in Nazi propaganda, where its size and strength were usually exaggerated. The fortifications included colossal coastal guns, batteries, mortars, and artillery, and thousands of German troops were stationed in its defences.[a] When the Allies eventually invaded the Normandy beaches in 1944, most of the defences were stormed within hours. Today, ruins of the wall exist in all of the nations where it was built, although many structures have fallen into the ocean or have been demolished over the years.

UTAH BEACH

Utah, commonly known as Utah Beach, was the code name for one of the five sectors of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings on June 6, 1944 (D-Day), during World War II. The westernmost of the five code-named landing beaches in Normandy, Utah is on the Cotentin Peninsula, west of the mouths of the Douve and Vire rivers. Amphibious landings at Utah were undertaken by United States Army troops, with sea transport, mine sweeping, and a naval bombardment force provided by the United States Navy and Coast Guard as well as elements from the BritishDutch and other Allied navies.

The objective at Utah was to secure a beachhead on the Cotentin Peninsula, the location of important port facilities at Cherbourg. The amphibious assault, primarily by the US 4th Infantry Division and 70th Tank Battalion, was supported by airborne landings of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Division. The intention was to rapidly seal off the Cotentin Peninsula, prevent the Germans from reinforcing Cherbourg, and capture the port as quickly as possible. Utah, along with Sword on the eastern flank, was added to the invasion plan in December 1943. These changes doubled the frontage of the invasion and necessitated a month-long delay so that additional landing craft and personnel could be assembled in England. Allied forces attacking Utah faced two battalions of the 919th Grenadier Regiment, part of the 709th Static Infantry Division. While improvements to fortifications had been undertaken under the leadership of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel beginning in October 1943, the troops assigned to defend the area were mostly poorly equipped non-German conscripts.

ANGOVILLE AU PLAIN

Angoville-au-Plain is a former commune in the Manche department in the Normandy region in northwestern France. On 1 January 2016, it was merged into the new commune of Carentan-les-Marais.[1] It was one of the least populated communes in Manche.

It is home to a church that was used by 2 US Army Medics as an aide station during the Battle of Normandy in World War II. Robert Wright and Ken Moore of the 101st Airborne treated a mix of 80 injured American and German wounded Soldiers and a child. Blood stains are still visible on the pews. Two stained glass windows commemorate the 101st Airborne Division, the first one is dedicated to the two medics of the 2nd Battalion of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment (101st Airborne Division). The second one honoured the American parachutists.

LA FIERE BRIDGE

One of the essential missions of the 82nd American Airborne Division was to take the bridges over the Prere and those of Chef-du-Pont, all located west of Sainte-Mère-Église. Between June 6 and 9, 1944, violent battles took place in the neighboring region of La Merderet, in the heart of swamps voluntarily flooded by German forces.
On June 6, at the sunrise, a company belonging to the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) supported by soldiers of the 507th and 508th regiments stormed La Fiere Manor and the bridge over the river. Merderet. By the end of the afternoon, the German forces, although receiving the reinforcement of tanks, had failed to return to the bridge. In the two days that followed, the German forces counter-attacked several times. However, despite the lack of ammunition, the American soldiers managed to hold their position. On June 9, General James Gavin led a bloody assault through the flooded areas to take control of the road and secure it. Thanks to the reinforcement of tanks coming from Utah Beach, the American parachutists managed, once and for all, to take the village of Cauquigny. This victory ended the battle of La Merderet

Sainte-Mere-Eglise

Through the sound of tocsin the evening of June 5, 1944, Sainte-Mere-Eglise entered into history. A house behind the church is on fire, it is 11.00 pm. Firemen with the help of locals are trying to control the fire. Since the curfew, they are surrounded by German soldiers at gunpoint. Although Sainte-Mere-Eglise was a drop zone target of the 82nd AB, the first paratroopers to hit the ground of the village belonged to the 101st AB, Several sticks dropped in the village and surrounding area. The “Screaming Eagles”, would participate with the 82nd AB to the liberation of the town.

 

When several groups of paratroopers were dropping on the town, the Germans quickly realized that this was the beginning of the landings, and after two hours of fighting which killed many Americans, the Germans retreated 2 km to the south in the village of Fauville where the headquarters of their commander was located. The town is taken by the 3/505 under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Edward C. Krause, it is 5:00 am, June 6, 1944.

At dawn attacks against the German start again but by then Sainte Mere Eglise defenses are organized.

 

In the South, German troops regroup between Turqueville and Fauville and stop the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division and the town’s shooting with 88mm guns as well as the help of the gliders who land between Fauville and Forges , and thus prevent the troops from the 4th infantry Division coming in from the sea sector of Utah Beach to make a junction with the 82nd AB.
In the North, two successive attempts backed by Stug III tanks, fail only a few yards from the village’s entrance. Paratroopers of 2/505 under command of Lieutenant- Colonel Benjamin H. Vandervoort repel the German attack again with two 57mm guns recovered from gliders.

FRESVILLE

On 8 June at 8 am, the 8th Infantry Regiment rushed forward and seized Neuville-au-Plain and continued its offensive towards the north. On its left flank, the 2nd Battalion of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (82nd Airborne Division) and the 2nd Battalion of the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment (82nd Airborne Division) pierced the front line, crossed National Road 13 and then headed for Fresville. At the approach of this commune, the infantry and the artillery is unleashed on the Americans who are slowly slowed down. Paratroopers and glidermen fight a resolute opponent: in the early evening, the 2nd Battalion of the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment (GIR), supported by C Company of the 746th Tank Battalion, manages to enter the village. Company E under the command of Captain Robert “Bob” Dickerson is on the left flank, Company F of Lieutenant Joe B. Gault on the right flank and Company G of Captain Irvin Bloom in reserve.

These men engage in a very short-range battle and the losses are significant, on one side as well as the other. The Germans began to retreat in the early hours of 9 June, taking advantage of the darkness and the terrain compartmentalised by the imposing hedges. A group of paratroopers from Company I of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, which bypasses Fresville by the southwest towards Grainville, is attacked by Germans who, with their MG 42 machine gun, kill three soldiers: Arthur S.Hile, Irving L. Jones and William A. Stephens.

At 1 am, the glidermen of the 325th GIR took possession of Fresville. They set up defensive positions for the night before resuming the progression towards the train station of Montebourg the following morning.

The Battle of Graignes

A small town in the southern swamps of Normandy’s Cotentin Peninsula is home to a story known to only the most ardent World War II historians and a fading number of veterans who served in the 82nd Airborne Division’s 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment during the D-Day invasion.

The town is Graignes (GREN-yay). It is a symbol of the best of the Norman French and their unceasing affection for the young soldier-liberators who joined them on June 6, 1944. The history is of two peoples coming together by chance, not choice, and finding common cause. No better example exists for why the invasion took place.

South and slightly west of Carentan, a key objective of the Normandy invasion, is a large swampy area slightly smaller than the Okefenokee Swamp in the southeastern United States. To the French, the area is simply known as Le Marais – the wet lowland residue of the Douve and Merderet rivers and their interconnecting offspring. It is a boggy land cut with many canals and creeks. Small standing plots of relatively firm ground are a part of this landscape, which has been farmed for centuries by people who prospered in their isolation. The air is heavier around Graignes than it is on the rest of the peninsula, the humidity fed by the copious quantities of open and nearly stagnant water. On a warm day the air hangs heavy, giving rise to density currents....

by KEITH NIGHTINGALE

PURPLE HEARTH LANE

View of the Carentan causeway from the north, with bridges 3 and 4 marking waterways crossed by the causeway, and the town of Carentan in the background.

Purple Heart Lane is a nickname for Highway N13 near CarentanFrance, used by American soldiers and historians to denote a battlefield on which Lt. Col. Robert G. Cole and his troops of the 101st Airborne Division fought during the Battle of Normandy in World War II. The name arose because Cole's troops sustained many casualties in the advance on June 10, 1944, along the causeway of N13 supporting four bridges that spanned the Douve River between Carentan and Saint Come-du-Mont, and in the battle on the morning of June 11 that resulted in a skirmish known popularly as "Cole's Charge". The Purple Heart is an American military decoration awarded for sustaining wounds in combat.

Cole and his unit of 400 men – 3rd Battalion502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment- were part of D-Day mission Albany. They were called from reserve into action to attack four bridges on highway N13 to Carentan. On June 10 and 11, 1944, Cole and his battalion fought an intense battle on this causeway for nearly two days under intense German machine gun, mortar, and artillery fire. In the morning of D+5, with the Germans resisting Cole's attempts to take the bridges, Cole ordered heavy artillery on the German strongholds...