Sainte-Mère-Église


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
maire=Jean-Paul Bouet
mandat=2001-2008
intercomm=Communauté de communes de Sainte-Mère-Église
longitude=-1.31805555556
latitude=49.4088888889
alt moy=34 m
alt mini=1 m
alt maxi=41 m
hectares=1,768
km²=17.68
sans=1,585
date-sans=1999
dens=90
date-dens=1999

Sainte-Mère-Église is a small town and commune of the Manche "département", in the Cotentin Peninsula near the coast of Normandy, France.

History

Founded in the XIIth Century, the earliest records show its first name was "Sanctae Mariae Ecclesia", Latin for "Church of St. Mary". The current French is ambiguous with the additional meaning, "Holy Mother Church." The town was significantly involved in the 100 Years War as well as the Wars of Religion.

The town's main claim to fame is that it played a significant part in the World War II Normandy landings because this village stood right in the middle of route N13, which the Germans would have most likely used on any significant counterattack on the troops landing on Utah and Omaha Beaches. In the early morning of 6 June 1944 mixed units of the U.S. 82nd Airborne and U.S. 101st Airborne Divisions occupied the town in Operation Boston, giving it the claim to be one of the first towns liberated in the invasion.

D-Day Battle

The early landings, at about 0140 directly on the town, resulted in heavy casualties for the paratroopers. Some buildings in town were on fire that night, and they illuminated the sky, making easy targets of the descending men. Some were sucked into the fire. Many hanging from trees and utility poles were shot before they could cut loose. The German defenders were alerted.

A famous incident involved paratrooper John Steele of the 505th PIR, whose parachute caught on the spire of the town church, and could only observe the fighting going on below. He escaped capture by feigning death until the town was taken the next day. The incident was portrayed in the movie "The Longest Day".

Later that morning, about 0500, a force led by Lt. Colonel Edward C. Krause of the 505th PIR took the town with little resistance. Apparently the German garrison was confused and had retired for the rest of the night. However, heavy German counterattacks began later in the day and into the next. The lightly-armed troops held the town until reinforced by tanks from nearby Utah Beach in the afternoon of June 7. Other notable soldiers in the Allied assault on the town:
* Lt. Colonel Benjamin H. Vandervoort
* Lt. Turner B. Turnbull
* Capt. Ben SchwartzwalderKrause and Vandervoort both received the Distinguished Service Cross for their actions in the capture of the town.

Henry Langrehr was also involved in the capture of Sainte-Mère-Église. He crashed through a greenhouse roof, as retold in the movie "The Longest Day". On November 6, 2007 he received, along with five other men, the Legion of Honor medal from the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy.

ights

Tourism in Sainte-Mère-Église today centers on its role in the D-Day invasion. There are many small museums and World War II-related giftshops and eating places. A dummy paratrooper hangs from the church spire, commemorating the story of John Steele.

Behind the church is a spring, believed by pilgrims to have healing powers, dedicated to Saint Mewan (Saint Méen).

Trivia

* The first-person shooter "Call of Duty" has a mission focusing on the capture and defense of Sainte-Mère-Église.

External links

* [http://www.airborne-museum.org/accueil_uk.php The Airborne Museum]
* [http://www.army.mil/cmh/books/wwii/7-4/7-4_8.HTM "Cross Channel Attack", official Army report]
* [http://www.sainte-mere-eglise.info The Tourist Office of the District Communities of Sainte Mère Eglise]


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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Canton de Sainte-Mere-Eglise — Canton de Sainte Mère Église Canton de Sainte Mère Église Administration Pays France Région Basse Normandie Département Manche Arrondissement Cherbourg Octeville Code cantonal 50 37 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Canton de Sainte-Mère-Église — Administration Pays France Région Basse Normandie Département Manche Arrondissement Cherbourg Octeville …   Wikipédia en Français


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