France / Story
At the back of Utah Beach, the village of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont was liberated by a unit of the 501st parachute regiment of the 101st Airborne division, and was the place where the junction between paratroopers and infantrymen was established the 6 of June 1944.
On the night of June 5-6, between 00:50 and 01:30, British paratroopers were dropped in the area of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont/Hiesville. The Allied strategists located the Drop Zone C, the drop zone of the 1st and 2nd battalions of the 506 th Parachute Regiment as well as the 3rd battalion of the 501st Regiment, in a rectangular space of 1km by 500m, between Sainte-Marie-du-Mont and Hiesville.
In fact, because of the dispersal of the planes, only 15 sticks landed on the DZ and 38 outside its limits, but nearby anyway. Between 950 and 1000 paratroopers jumped in a triangular zone delimited by Hiesville, Sainte-Marie-du-Mont and Vierville. A few dozen paratroopers of the 1/506th Regiment landed east and northeast of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, as well as in the very village where they immediately engaged the fight with the Germans.
Once Hiesville was released, general Taylor, chief of the 101st Airborne Division, installed his HQ there. He leaves 150 men to hold the village until the arrival of reinforcement troops brought by gliders and landed on the beaches, from dawn. Taylor also sent a detachment to Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, where the fighting was raging, and to Vierville, himself taking place in a detachment of a hundred men to the coast to establish contact with the troops landed on Utah Beach. On his way the conquest of Pouppeville held him close to 6 hours.
In Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, the fighting begins as soon as the first paratroopers landed, in the heart of the village, in the middle of the night. Very few Germans were present in the village, but they defended themselves like lions. The village square, the church (whose bell tower represented an excellent observation post), and the adjacent buildings will change hands several times and will be the scene of terrible fighting.
After these clashes, the paratroopers hold the village at the first light of dawn. But the German counter-attack was not long overdue. In the late morning, a German column retreating from the coast tried to enter the village before being pushed back. An hour later, a dozen shells landed on Sainte-Marie-du Mont. The church was damaged and the clock of the bell tower stopped, marking 13h30. Shortly after, an endless column of trucks, jeeps and tanks, followed by infantry arrived from Utah Beach. The junction between paratroopers and infantrymen was established in Pouppeville around 13h00. Sainte-Marie-du-Mont was then definitively liberated.