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Old 07-09-2007, 07:53 AM   #1
Tim OP
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Normandy Visit. (WWII history report)

Just back from a trip to Normany, France

with Timwife,

where we were able to visit some of the lesser known historic sites.

Most people know of the landings on D-Day June 6th 1944 and many will know of the action at St Mere Eglise on the night of 5/6th June when troops of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment landed in the town, including Private John Steele who famously landed on the church. This is depicted to this day by a model that hangs from the church.

However I would like to tell you of some other memorials and lesser known actions.

We started at Amfeville where there is this impressive memorial to the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

On the back are details of battles fought and medals one by members of the regiment.

We the moved on to the bridge over the river Merderet at La Fiere. This bridge was an important objective for the 505 PIR on the night of 5th/6th of June as it would enable troops who were landing at Utah Beach to break out of the beach head and make for the important port of Cherbourg to the North.

Next to the bridge is a memorial to all of the American Airborne forces that landed on D-Day.

In the same garden is this memorial to Private De Glopper.

Private De Glopper and his comrades would have landed in their gliders in this area.

I cannot attempt to put in to words a better description of his actions better than those of the official citation;

"He was a member of Co C, 325th Glider Inf, on 9 Jun 1944 advancing with the forward platoon to secure a bridgehead across the Merderet River at La Fiere, France. At dawn the platoon had penetrated an outer line of machineguns and riflemen, but in so doing had become cut off from the rest of the company. Vastly superior forces began a decimation of the stricken unit and put in motion a flanking maneuver which would have completely exposed the American platoon in a shallow roadside ditch where it had taken cover. Detecting this danger, Pfc. DeGlopper volunteered to support his comrades by fire from his automatic rifle while they attempted a withdrawal through a break in a hedgerow 40 yards to the rear. Scorning a concentration of enemy automatic weapons and rifle fire, he walked from the ditch onto the road in full view of the Germans, and sprayed the hostile positions with assault fire. He was wounded, but he continued firing. Struck again, he started to fall; and yet his grim determination and valiant fighting spirit could not be broken. Kneeling in the roadway, weakened by his grievous wounds, he leveled his heavy weapon against the enemy and fired burst after burst until killed outright. He was successful in drawing the enemy action away from his fellow soldiers, who continued the fight from a more advantageous position and established the first bridgehead over the Merderet. In the area where he made his intrepid stand his comrades later found the ground strewn with dead Germans and many machineguns and automatic weapons which he had knocked out of action. Pfc. DeGlopper's gallant sacrifice and unflinching heroism while facing unsurmountable odds were in great measure responsible for a highly important tactical victory in the Normandy Campaign."

The road where De Glopper died

Hard to imagine that such an act of bravery took place in what is now such a peaceful setting.

The next location of an act of heroism is Les Mezieres.

This collection of French farm houses and buildings were be ing used by the Germans as an Artillery barracks. A small patrol of about fifteen men under the command of Staff-Sergeant Harrison Summers were detailed to clear the barracks of Germans.

He stormed the first barracks, hoping his 15 men would follow suit but none did.

Still, he kicked in the door and sprayed the place with his tommy gun, killing four soldiers and forcing others out the back door.

Inspired by Summers another member of the patrol, Burt, joined him and supplied cover fire, as a zigzagging Summers - avoiding fire - reached another house and killed six more Germans.

Lieutenant Elmer Brandenberger than offered to help Summers take the next house but was wounded as they charged the next house so Summers continued alone. In this house, another six enemies killed and others escaped out of the back to surrender to the rest of the patrol.

Private Camin then joined Summers and so Summers and Camien moved from building to building, taking turns covering each other. Burt chipped in with his machine gun to kill more Germans.

With two buildings left, Summers charged the first and kicked the door open, to see the most improbable sight. Fifteen German artillerymen were seated at mess tables eating breakfast. Summers never paused and shot them all where they sat."

Summers was now joined by Staff-Sergeant Nickrent who with Private Burt set the roof of the last building ablaze with tracer bullets and bazooka fire. Germans who sprinted out in the open field were easy targets for the rest of the patrol.

After five hours of combat, Summers needed a rest. How did he feel, someone asked.

"Not too good. It was all kind of crazy. I'm sure I'll never do anything like that again." Summers replied.

Summers was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross for this action, although even after his death in 1983 comrades petitioned for the award of a Medal of Honour it was not to be.

The final memorial I have to show you is this one.

It is at the side of the road just outside the town of Briquebec. The base shows that it records the actions of two B-17 bomber crews in April and May 1944.

Two boards record the details of each incident.

Note - there are typos on both boards and the Union flag is only to show what language the story is recorded in as it is also shown in French and German.

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Old 07-09-2007, 08:06 AM   #2
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Wow!! Thanks for a fantastic and poignant reminder of past sacrifices by the "greatest generation".
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Old 07-09-2007, 08:13 AM   #3
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there is so much to be explored there...

i choke often when in the area.

any food pics like 'bagette american'? (ham, boiled egg and sliced tomatoes).... that is a tribute from a starving, occupied nation known for its passion on food.
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Old 07-09-2007, 08:26 AM   #4
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Fantastic write up and pics!!!

I was recently given the Band of Brothers series. Incredible the fortitude those men had.

- Galen S.
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Old 07-09-2007, 08:37 AM   #5
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My grandfather fought in WWII and on rare occasion would speak about the war. Your narrative highlighted some of the many sacrifices that people have forgotten. Thanks.
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Old 07-09-2007, 09:05 AM   #6
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Thanks for the pix and report. Please post more if you have it.

I hope someday to be able to visit that location and say my thanks for those who sacrificed everything for their country and to free Europe.
Wherever we go, there we are.

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Old 07-09-2007, 11:29 AM   #7
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I love these historical reports. Thanks, Tim!
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Old 07-09-2007, 12:51 PM   #8
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Good stuff, it's nice to see some of the lesser known memorials.
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Old 07-09-2007, 02:43 PM   #9
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thanks for posting, i love this kind of history. ( the lesser known)
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Old 07-09-2007, 07:32 PM   #10
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Thanks for this great story. I was stationed in Germany with the Air Force from 1989 - 1992. All of the times I have been in France, Belgium, Holland etc I have always found many local people who still greatly appreciate the landings by the allies. Good post!
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Old 07-09-2007, 08:00 PM   #11
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One of my favorite parts of Europe. Utah, Omaha, St. Mere Eglise. Great, beautiful areas. Every step is a step granted to us by those that fought and those that died on that ground. Amazing feeling having been there. Something I'll never forget and heck, I wasn't even being shot at. Can't wait to go back.
Thanks for the pics and report. Please post more if you have them.
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Old 07-09-2007, 08:59 PM   #12
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Old 07-09-2007, 09:04 PM   #13
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wow, thanks for the great post and history. hopefully more to come.
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Old 07-10-2007, 12:24 AM   #14
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Great report!

I'm going there in approx. two weeks. Thanks for info!
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Old 07-10-2007, 01:57 AM   #15
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With two buildings left, Summers charged the first and kicked the door open, to see the most improbable sight. Fifteen German artillerymen were seated at mess tables eating breakfast. Summers never paused and shot them all where they sat.
Firefight raging outside and they're tucking into their breakfast - no wonder they lost the war - maybe they were listening to their iPods
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