"Sainte-Mère-Église" Sainte-Mère-Église by vichatherly
Sainte-Mère-Église Travel Guide: 20 reviews and 69 photos
We visited on the morning of day two of our four day tour of the D-Day beaches at Normandy. We were based in Bayeux and so took the short drive.
The principal purpose of the trip was to visit the World War II beaches of Normandy. The beaches cover an area of over 60 miles and so we based ourselves in Bayeux, which put us in a fantastic central location.
We packed into our short stay the following villages and towns Arromanches-les-Bains for Gold beach and the Mulberry Harbour, Sainte-Mère-Église for the church, Utah beach and the US Airborne museum, Maisy for the batteries at Maisy and Pointe du Hoc, Colleville-sur-Mer for Omaha beach and the American Cemetery, Courseulles-sur-Mer for Juno beach, Bénouville for Pegasus Bridge and the Memorial Museum, Ouistreham for Sword beach, Merville-Franceville-Plage for the gun battery and Ranville for the CWGC Cemetery.
It is best to park up by the church and do you exploring by foot.
The small town is dominated by the church in the town square. It owes much of it fame to an American paratrooper called John Steele. He was part of the 505th PIR of the 82nd Airborne Division and shortly after 01:30 on the 6th June 1944, he and some 13,000 other airborne soldiers jumped out of 880 transport planes flying over Normandy.
Like many other parachute drops that night, John landed in the wrong place. In fact he and his mates landed in the worst possible place, right into the town square which housed a considerable amount of German troops.
Steele landed onto the church steeple, slid down it and then with his parachute caught on a flying buttress hung there for all to see. He was lucky and was only shot in the foot before being captured.
Others weren't so lucky and you can only imagine his thoughts as he hung there watching his friends being shot before they even made it to the ground, some ending up hanging in the trees which still outline the town square today.
During the summer months an effigy of John Steele usually hangs from the church tower. This is quite striking and horrifying at the same time.
Later that morning, about 0500, a force led by Lt. Colonel Edward C. Krause of the 505th PIR took the town with little resistance. Apparently the German garrison was confused and had retired for the rest of the night.
However, heavy German counterattacks began later in the day and into the next.
The liberation is depicted quite vividly in the epic file "The Longest Day" and the clip is played in the nearby US Airborne Museum.
The dunes at Utah beach are still strewn with the remnants of D-Day, 6th June 1944. The rusting beach defences are still there. The Americans took this beach by storm with the help of 32 DD tanks which were specifically modified to be amphibious. They were launched two miles out to sea and 28 of them made it ashore. It must have been some sight to see tanks swimming towards the shore.
We visited the beach just after the 65th anniversary of D-Day and sat by a remarkable memorial “Sands of Remembrance” made out of the sand . It showed two battling soldiers wading out of the sea. I don’t suppose it will last too long, so you best take a look at my picture.
- Pros:US Airborne Museum
- In a nutshell:A tranquil place now which has seen some horrific moments
This was inaugurated on 27th September 2008 on the highest point overlooking D-Day Beach - Utah. A magnificent... more travel advice
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