After the terrible hardships suffered by the inhabitants of the county when the temporary cemeteries were moved out, a sudden brutal interrogation arose with the spectrum of another trauma. What if the future commemorations of the D-Day Landings were to disappear; What would remain of these events of June 1944, besides the collective memory? Worried about this, Mr Alexandre Renaud who was the local pharmacist but also the Mayor of Sainte Mère Eglise at the time of the Liberation, started then approaches in order to create a museum.

Première pierre Airborne Museum 1963

From 1956 to 1958, he had several letters exchanged with American and French authorities trying to collect the necessary funds for the construction of a building with a memorial vocation. In the years dedicated to the re-construction of France, it was not an easy task, but despite all this, an available piece of land is found close to the town square, highly symbolic place of the 82nd Airborne troops droppings.

pose de la premiere pierre Airborne Museum 1963

This choice location must have an innovative museography and as a highlight, a glider having been part of the D-Day operations. Mr Renaud formally requested this in May 1957 to the 82nd Airborne command. The Americans very excited about this idea , went along to search this very rare item.

 

In the early sixties, providential news delight the new mayor, as the American army announces that they have just located a wrecked glider, a Waco CG4A dating from 1943 but in bad condition. The wrecked glider is then given to the care of the Salis workshops of la ferté-Alais in the Paris suburbs. An association for a “Permanent display of Airborne troops” (1901 law) is created and put in charge of managing the future museum. The first stone is laid June 6th by guest of honor, General Gavin, ambassador of the United States in France.

The inauguration of the building in the shape of a parachute took place June 1964 in the presence of Generals Ridgway and Taylor. The great adventure of the museum could finally start…

Between 1975 and 1977, an aviation and skydiving fan offers an exceptional but cumbersome donation to the members of the association: an authentic transport plane, not just another plane but the famous Douglas C-47 Skytrain. A mythic plane having participated in the airborne drops above Sainte Mere Eglise during the night of June 5 to 6th 1944.
The Association then decides to give it a choice location inside its park and starts construction of a second building with a roof in the shape of a Delta wing, it will be inaugurated on June 6th 1983.

min-pose-premiere-pierre

 

Throughout the years the museum adapts itself to better answer to the visitor’s requests, the association starts the construction of a third building in the shape of a plane wing and called “Operation Neptune”. For its inauguration on June 5th 2014, many veterans including Don Jakeway 82nd Airborne veteran and General Nicholson are present.