Our next stop took us to a small French village called St Mere Eglise. On June 5 there was suppose to be an organized parachute jump. I was told over 300 paratroopers had descended on this tiny village to take part. Unfortunately due to rain, wind and clouds the event was canceled. The first time it had been canceled in 20 years. We arrived in St. Mere Eglise on June 7th and there were still many military personnel around as well as reenactors.
My children and I had read a story about an American Paratrooper who had been trapped on the church steeple in this small town and pretended to be dead for 2 hours before being captured by the Germans.
There is still a effigy of this paratrooper on the town's church steeple. Private John Steele story is remarkable and is also portrayed in the movie The Longest Day.
On the night of June 5 and the early morning of June 6, 1944 the US dropped hundreds of paratrooper behind German lines. In the village of St Mere Englise there is a museum that tells their stories.
Seeing the planes that some paratroopers were transported in; this is a C-47 (the military version of the workhorse DC-3 transport).
Going inside a glider and seeing just how thinly built they were and how bullets could easily pierce the skin. Many paratroopers died in these gliders.
This was something new we learned. Of all the books I have read with the children we did not know there were different color parachutes and that the color identified the job of the trooper. Even my husband and father didn't know this tidbit:).
Different colored parachutes hanging from the museum ceiling.
As with much of Normandy, it was very nice seeing the respect that the local French population still pays to the people who sacrificed their lives as part of the beginning of the liberation of Europe from Nazi control. Everywhere we visited there were flags, flowers, and memorials saluting the brave men who sacraficed so much to liberate France.
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