La Fiere

On the night of June 5th-6th the American Airborne Division 101st Screaming Eagles and the All American 82nd division parachuted into Normandy. They had left England in over 800 transport aircraft, and numbered over 13,000 men. The plan was that the exits from Utah beach should be secured by the time the invasion forces landed at dawn. They were also charged with securing the river crossings over the Douve and Merderet at "La Flere" and "Chef Du Pont". This would then give the American forces control of the N13 road and prevent the Germans getting reinforcements to the beach area. Before the main drop "pathfinders" dropped to mark the landing areas with flares. Thick cloud and anti aircraft fire caused some of the pilots to drop their parachutists in the wrong area, and many pilots flew too fast for a safe drop. The 505th Regiment (part of the 82nd) dropped to the west of St. Mere Eglise landed on target and within three hours had captured the town. The other two regiments 507th, & 508th, did not fare as well and were scattered over both sides of the River Merderet. It should be noted that the Germans had flooded the land either side of the river and the area was more like a swamp, into which many men landed and drowned because of the weight of equipment. The "Iron Mike" memorial (named after St Michael the patron saint of the 82nd) is a recent addition being unveiled on June 7th 1997. It is a replica of the one at the US Army School at Fort Benning. The fields in front of the memorial still flood today and a marker just along the road indicates the level of the water in June 1944. The Americans seized this causeway with 400 troops on D-day from the east led by Colonel Roy Lindquist and from the west by members of the 507th. The superior German forces retook it by the end of the day, after bitter fighting. The medal of Honour was awarded to Private Charles N. Deglopper from 82nd for his bravery here, when he covered his retreating comrades with machine gun fire, until he was killed. There is a fox hole just 100 metres on the right, supposed to be the one used by General Gavin. The hole only appeared recently but General Gavin was certainly here on D-day.

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