Omaha Beach- Vierville Looking East June 14, 1948. The valley road "the Vierville Draw" or code named D1 is at the top. Six German strongpoints defended the beach in this area. The movies "The Longest Day" and "Saving Private Ryan" depict the battle on these sands. C Company of the 2nd Ranger Battalion landed under the cliff immediately west of the draw. Their battle along the bluff greatly reduced the firepower on A Company, 116th Regiment assaulting the beach. Further west to the right is Pointe Percee from where a German officer observing the battle erroneously misjudged the American successes and redirected German reinforcements to another area.
Cherbourg - Looking North August 13, 1947
Napoleon designed the port and its defenses to be the Gibraltar of the English Channel. It was captured by Major General Erwin Rommel June 19. 1940. In anticipation of the 1944 invasion and to deny the port's use by the Allies, Rommel had the defenses expanded around the circumference. Fort Roule, mid-photo, is a dominating honeycombed mountain with little accessibility. Although the city and port were captured June 26 (D-day + 19) German demolition of the port facilities denied its use for several months thereafter.
Quineville sur Mer - Looking West July 6, 1948 Strong beach defenses (strongpoint on beach shoreline mid-photo and along top of seawall). The chateau, bottom left, the 88mm casemate, mid-photo, near the ascending road and the church further up the hill witnessed strong German resistance on D-day +6 when attacked by the 3rd Battalion of the 22nd Regiment. The attackers came across the fields from the top left in the photo, descending upon the church and chateau 300 yards south. After subduing the Germans, K Company descended the road, battled the cement casemate gun crew but were stopped at the farm at the sharp corner. The capture of the seaside town was hard fought.
la Fiere Causeway - Looking West August 13, 1947 The low land over which the causeway passes was flooded in 1944. Many American paratroopers drowned here. Others were shot by snipers as they waded across the marsh. The road was important as the Utah invasion forces pushed west across the Contentin Peninsula. Captured intact without losses on D-day it was left unguarded to be occupied later that day by Germans recognizing its strategic value. The defenses occupying the farm buildings to the east end, foxholes along the causeway, and the western bank took a very heavy toll on the 82nd Airborne over a three day period.
Ste Mere Eglise - Looking Southeast Today American paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division erroneously parachuted into the town square in the early hours of D-day. M. Hairon's burning barn, top mid-photo, illuminated the scene making it easy for the Germans in the square to shoot the descending troopers.
Utah Beach Looking West D-Day Morning June 6, 1944 The aircraft engine nacelle and propeller are top right. Dark patches are cloud shadows. German flooding of the low pasturelands immediately west of the beach was planned to limit American accessibility to the higher ground. Further west along the top of the photo can be seen the flooded Merderet River valley, also a defensive tactic that caused grievous losses to the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. On the beach, landing craft are bringing in General Barton's 4th Infantry Division. Two causeways carry vehicles and men westbound to relieve the paratroopers holding the causeways western exits.
Chef du Pont Causeway - Looking North August 13, 1947 This is one of two most southerly causeways crossing the flooded marshlands of eh Merderet River. The other, la Fiere Causeway, is two miles north towards the top right in the photo. The elevated roads crossing the marsh were flanked by German manned foxholes. Attempts by the 75 paratroopers of the 505th Regiment were stopped at the bridge as the men left the town of Chef du Pont. American snipers took up positions around the smoke stacked factory picking off Germans lining the road. Other paratroopers who had landed in the fields west of the marsh (top of photo) attacked the Couffey farm (center left) successfully. The causeway was cleared by D-day +3 allowing the Utah landed troops and tanks to move west to cut off the Contentin Peninsula.
Vierville Road - Looking East June 14, 1948
The road connects a major north-south highway to Utah Beach four miles east. Germans held the hedgerows and farm buildings adjacent to this tactically valuable roadway. This winding, narrow two miles is one of the most bloodied roads in the annals of the 101st Airborne Division's Normandy history. Paratroopers of Colonel Robert Sink's 506th Regiment landed outside the top of the photo. The subsequent battles to seize the road and open it up to traffic from Utah fills many pages. The converging roads at the bottom meet at the Liberte' Expressway. A 2001 TV mini series, "Band of Brothers" will depict the Vierville Road battle in an early episode.
Deadman's Corner - Looking North June 14, 1948 The road entering from the right is from Utah Beach, 4 miles northeast. On D-day, resistance along the road and adjacent fields were costly to Colonel Robert Sinks's 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. German Colonel van der Heydte, commander of the 6th Parachute Regiment was headquartered in Ste Come du Mont half a mile north of the intersection. Fighting around the important corner lasted several days until the Germans were forced to withdraw westward, their only line of retreat. From here the Americans pushed south to Carentan and north to Ste Mere d'Englise opening up the advance from the Utah beachhead.
la Barquette Lock- Looking North August 13, 1947 German control of back flooding the lowlands behind Utah Beach and the Douve and Merderet River valleys was accomplished by opening and closing the lock gates at the appropriate times over a two year period. Colonel "Skeets" Johnson, commander of the 501st Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, attacked from the north early D-day morning with 150 men. The Germans withdrew south several hundred feet to prepared positions. US Navy counter fire against two German 88s in Carentan silenced the Germans. On D-day +1 German paratroopers of the 1st Battalion, 6th Parachute Regiment attacked from the top right towards the T-junction. Although out-manned the Americans bluffed the Germans into surrendering. In error German artillery killed many of their comrades as the POWs were being marched into captivity.