This church was founded in the eleventh century and the town's main claim to fame is that it played a significant part in the WW2 Normandy landings as this village stood right in the middle of the N13 route through which the Germans would have launched any significant counterattack against troops landing on Utah and Omaha beaches. In the early morning of 6th June 1944 mixed units of the U.S. 82nd Airborne and 101st Airborne occupied the town in Operation Boston making it one of the first towns liberated in the invasion. Anyone who has seen the epic film "The Longest Day" will have seen the U.S. Airborne parachute into the town being decimated by German gunfire. One paratrooper, John Steele, had his parachute catch on the spire of the church and he hung there limply for two hours pretending to be dead. Played by Red Buttons in the film, Steele was captured by the Germans but later escaped and rejoined his unit and Steele, born in Illinois in 1912, lived to the age of 56. Hanging there with mayhem going on below I'd say that was a pretty good result for him. The parachute and dummy soldier hanging on the spire now is a monument to him and was the reason I wanted to visit the town. Lots of visiting Yanks of course!
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Photo taken in Sainte-Mère-Église, France
Misplaced? Suggest new location