September 25, 2018 St. Mere-Egliese

Today we covered the most distance we have covered in one day on the trip, about 200 miles.  We got up a little early, and the trip was pretty easy as the roads were frequently 4 lanes wide, and we did not have very many small villages to pass thru.

Our target for the day was Utah Beach from the Normandy invasion in 1944.  Our first stop of our D-Day tour was at the Airborne Museum at St. Mere-Eglise.  St. Mere-Eglise was the initial focus of the 82nd Airborne Division during the invasion.  It is said to be the first town in France to be liberated by Americans during WWII.  The museum itself is well done, focusing on the issues of the airborne forces during the invasion.  It mostly covers the 82nd Airborne, but does also give information about the 101st Airborne.  It is an interesting collection of equipment, weapons, and stories.  One of the most interesting exhibits attempts to give you the feel of doing a night drop from a C-47 transport plane.  It is quite interesting and gets your attention.

A US Sherman tank on Utah beach, this one is painted in the colors of the French LeClerc Division which landed here, and passed thru St. Mere-Eglise.

We also visited the church in town which is famous for the story of one paratrooper John Steel who had the misfortune of getting hung up on the steeple of the church where he was shot in the foot by a German, and played dead for several hours hanging in the air above the center of town.  If you have seen “The Longest Day” movie about D-Day you will probably remember this story as it is featured in the movie.

The church at St. Mere-Eglise, note the replica of the parachutist hanging from the church.

We ended the day at Utah Beach to see the monuments there, and to walk on the beach.  The monuments and displays we saw today were really touching, and shows the deep respect and thanks the French have for the Americans who landed here.

Ron standing on Utah Beach, evaluating the suitability of the beach for an amphibious landing.
Nothing to do with D-day, we saw this horse and rider driving thru the surf.  We have no idea why.

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