Utah Beach and US Airborne
At the base of the Cotentin Peninsula, Utah Beach is the westernmost of the five landing beaches of D-Day. Here the US 4th Infantry Division and their attached units landed against weaker than expected opposition before pushing inland to link up with the elements of the two Airborne divisions who had landed during the night.
The 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions started their parachute drops in the very early hours of 6th of June. Their designated Drop and Landing Zones covered a wide area but misdrops meant that a lot of men landed way beyond their planned destination. As such, there's an almost unlimited amount of stories to tell in this sector. Here are some suggestions but your itinerary here is as flexible as you wish it to be...
Angoville-au-Plain, a small, quiet village on the edge of Drop Zone 'D', saw some intense fighting. Here we'll discuss the incredible story of the church and its use as a First Aid post. A story of humanity amidst the carnage, this is truly one of the most poignant places to visit in the area.
Neuville-au-Plain.....sitting astride the Paris to Cherbourg highway, the RN13, possession of this small cluster of buildings controlled acces from the north to the key town of Ste-Mère-Eglise. A small American force held the town for most of D-Day before retiring south. The next day the town was recaptured. We'll discuss the stories of combatants and of civilians in these often overlooked but important engagements.
The La Fiere Causeway, one of two main roads crossing the Merderet river and its large flood plain, unseasonably inundated thanks to German attempts to harness nature as a means of defense. From the initial fighting on the 6th of June, through to the final securing of the road on the 9th, we'll learn of heroism on a grand scale, when ordinary men performed extraordinaly feats. We'll examine this site from both sides, as perspective is key to understanding the events.
Tucked away in the heart of the Cotentin, away from most of the D-Day tourism, is the Orglandes German Cemetery. Here lie German soldiers who died during the heavy fighting on the peninsula as the Americans pushed towards Cherbourg, along with others who died both before and after, some even after the end of the war.
Established by the US Army in 1944, it is now one of six permanent German cemeteries in the region.