The population of the South-West of England, including Bristol, were saved the trauma of V-Weapon attacks by the success of Operation Overlord - the huge scale amphibious attack on German occupied Normandy by Allied forces on 6th June 1944. The loss of the Cotentin Pensula over subsequent weeks put paid to German plans to activate launch sites in the Cherbourg area.
Last month I spent a week in Normandy exploring parts of the battlefield. The weather was glorious and conditions were perfect for hiking. I started by exploring the ground covered by Major General Matthew Ridgeway's 82nd 'All-American' Airborne Division to the west of Sainte-Mère-Église in the vicinity of La Fière and Eteinville. Landing by parachute and glider the 82nd Airborne were to assist with the capture of Sainte-Mère-Église, secure the approaches to the Utah Beach landing areas and push westwards to capture a couple of crossing points over the River Merderet.
|'Iron Mike' statue at La Fiere|
|Sainte Mere Eglise - John Steele Dummy & Parachute|
|Memorial Area on Utah Beach|
|Bridleway near La Fiere|
|Unexpected encounter near Amfreville|
|The American Airborne Museum - Normandy|
The museum houses a C47B Dakota and a Waco CG04 glider - the two main workhorses of the airborne assault. In addition there are hundreds of contemporary artefacts including weapons and uniforms. The displays are complemented by compelling film footage and a vast array of letters and personal documents.