Through the sound of tocsin the evening of June 5, 1944, Sainte-Mere-Eglise entered into history. A house behind the church is on fire, it is 11.00 pm. Firemen with the help of locals are trying to control the fire. Since the curfew, they are surrounded by German soldiers at gunpoint. Although Sainte-Mere-Eglise was a drop zone target of the 82nd AB, the first paratroopers to hit the ground of the village belonged to the 101st AB, Several sticks dropped in the village and surrounding area. The “Screaming Eagles”, would participate with the 82nd AB to the liberation of the town.
When several groups of paratroopers were dropping on the town, the Germans quickly realized that this was the beginning of the landings, and after two hours of fighting which killed many Americans, the Germans retreated 2 km to the south in the village of Fauville where the headquarters of their commander was located. The town is taken by the 3/505 under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Edward C. Krause, it is 5:00 am, June 6, 1944.
At dawn attacks against the German start again but by then Sainte Mere Eglise defenses are organized.
In the South, German troops regroup between Turqueville and Fauville and stop the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division and the town’s shooting with 88mm guns as well as the help of the gliders who land between Fauville and Forges , and thus prevent the troops from the 4th infantry Division coming in from the sea sector of Utah Beach to make a junction with the 82nd AB.
In the North, two successive attempts backed by Stug III tanks, fail only a few yards from the village’s entrance. Paratroopers of 2/505 under command of Lieutenant- Colonel Benjamin H. Vandervoort repel the German attack again with two 57mm guns recovered from gliders.
In the West, control of the bridges at La Fière and Chef Du Pont crossing the marshes are of paramount importance and the Germans know it. It is a must, indeed, to cut off the Cotentin peninsula and US. troops must borrow from East to West. If the taking of the Chef du Pont bridge is going relatively well, fighting for the capture of La Fière Bridge is another bitter story.
Attacks and counter-attacks again last 3 days but this bridge will never be re-captured and will enable US. troops to continue their progression ahead.
After June 10, the noise of fighting away in Sainte-Mere-Eglise will never return. But at what price ? … the price of Freedom.