John Steele (paratrooper)


John Steele (paratrooper)

WWII-bio-stub

Private John M. Steele was the American paratrooper made famous in the movie, "The Longest Day" who landed in Sainte-Mère-Église, the first village in Normandy liberated by the Americans on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

The operation

On the night of the D-Day (June 5-6, 1944), American soldiers of the 82nd Airborne parachuted into the area west of Ste-Mère-Église in successive waves. The town had been the target of an aerial attack and a stray incendiary bomb had set fire to a house east of the town square. The church bell was rung to alert the town of the emergency and townspeople turned out in large numbers to form a bucket brigade supervised by members of the German garrison. By 0100hrs, the town square was well-lit and filled with German soldiers and villagers when two sticks from the 1st and 2nd battalions were dropped in error directly over the village.

The paratroopers were easy targets and Steele was one of only a few non-casualties. His parachute was caught in the steeple of the village church in Ste-Mère-Église, leaving him hanging from its roof-top to witness the carnage. The wounded paratrooper hung there limply for two hours, pretending to be dead, before the Germans took him prisoner. Steele later escaped from the Germans and rejoined his division when US troops of the 3rd Battalion, 505 Parachute Infantry Regiment attacked the village capturing thirty Germans and killing another eleven. For these actions and his wounds, Steele was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor and the Purple Heart

John Steele died of cancer on May 16, 1969 in Fayetteville, NC.

Commemoration

Today, these events are commemorated by the Airborne Forces Museum in Place du 6 juin in the centre of Ste-Mère-Église and in the village church where a parachute with an effigy of Private Steele in his Airborne uniform hangs from the steeple. Bullet holes are still visible in the church's stone walls. Inside, there are stained glass windows, with one depicting the Virgin Mary with paratroopers falling in the foreground.

Though injured and deafened by the church bells, Private Steele survived his ordeal. He continued to visit the town throughout his life and was an honorary citizen of Ste. Mère Église. The tavern, Auberge John Steele, stands adjacent to the square and maintains his memory through photos, letters and articles hung on its walls.

Film Portrayal

Steele is portrayed by Red Buttons in the film "The Longest Day". Darryl Zanuck's movie was made after the Cornelius Ryan book of the same name.

External links

* [http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FA0F1EF634541B7B93C5A8178ED85F4D8685F9 Obituary, NY Times, May 17, 1969 "John M. Steele, Ex-Paratrooper Who Landed on steeple D-Day"]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • John Steele — may refer to: * John Steele (paratrooper), American paratrooper * John Steele (Canadian politician) (born 1940) * John Steele (aromatic consultant) * John Steele (cricketer) (born 1946), English cricketer * John B. Steele (1814–1866), U.S.… …   Wikipedia

  • Steele (surname) — Steele is a surname, and may refer to:A* Alex Steele * Alfred E. Steele * Alfred Nu Steele (1901 1959), US businessperson and husband of Joan Crawford * Alfonso Steele * Alison Steele * Allen Steele, American science fiction author * Anne Steele… …   Wikipedia

  • Самый длинный день (фильм) — Это статья о фильме. Возможно, Вы искали статью о книге Самый длинный день Самый длинный день The Longest Day …   Википедия

  • List of World War II topics (J) — # J XX # J Malan Heslop # J. Aird Nesbitt # J. Allen Frear, Jr. # J. B. Stoner # J. Braid # J. C. Gilbert # J. Caleb Boggs # J. Carson Mark # J. D. Salinger # J. D. Tippit # J. Douglas Blackwood # J. F. Lehmann # J. Fraser McLuskey # J. Henry… …   Wikipedia

  • Sainte-Mère-Église — French commune nomcommune=Sainte Mère Église The church of Sainte Mère Église with Parachute Memorial région=Basse Normandie département=Manche arrondissement=Cherbourg Octeville canton=Sainte Mère Église (chief town) insee=50523 cp=50480… …   Wikipedia

  • Call of Duty (video game) — Call of Duty Windows cover Developer(s) Infinity Ward Publisher(s) Activis …   Wikipedia

  • Metropolis, Illinois — Coordinates: 37°9′12″N 88°43′31″W / 37.15333°N 88.72528°W / 37.15333; 88.72528 …   Wikipedia

  • A Bridge Too Far (film) — Infobox Film name = A Bridge Too Far image size= caption= original film poster imdb id = 75784 writer = Cornelius Ryan (book) William Goldman (screenplay) starring = Dirk Bogarde James Caan Michael Caine Sean Connery Edward Fox Anthony Hopkins… …   Wikipedia

  • Peter McAleese — is a British ex paratrooper and an ex member of the SAS. After leaving the Army he became a mercenary in Angola for the FNLA, taking command of the unit after the capture of Costas Georgiou the so called Colonel Callan . He then joined the… …   Wikipedia

  • Don Coryell — Date of birth October 17, 1924(1924 10 17) Place of birth Seattle, Washington Date of death July 1, 2010(2010 07 01) (aged 85) Place of death La Mesa, California …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.