The story that captivates a number of Americans involves the one where paratrooper John Steele’s chute snags on the belfry of the town’s church 6/6/44. To this day, there exists a likeness to highlight the story in the town.
Some buildings in town caught fire that night, illuminating the sky and making easy targets of the descending men resulting in heavy casualties. John Smith hung on the belfry for two hours, pretending to be dead until the Germans took him prisoner. He later escaped and rejoined his division when they attached the village. The village has capitalized on this story made more famous when the incident was portrayed in the movie The Longest Day.
The church was open for any wishing to look inside. Quite a pretty church with a number of ornamentations spread throughout. The day we visited we had to dodge rain showers and the church became a refuge for different reasons. It’s still a working church to this day. I saw a priest coming from behind the alter and an organ lesson occurring while we were inside.
As with most European churches, they had several stained-glass windows. One of the stained-glass windows was dedicated to the paratroopers and their likeness was part of the design when it had been replaced after the fighting.
We also visited the Airborne Museum – quite interesting. They had a number of buildings or ‘stops’ within a fenced in area dedicated to these divisions. I thought it was ironic these bicycles were parked in front of the sign.
One of the first war machines seen was this tank. The white building behind that showcased other operations.
Here is one of the displays seen inside the white-roofed building.
Another building labeled ‘Neptune’ had an excellent montage of events. Upon entering, you were thrust into a dark hallway which led you to the inside of one of the gliders. Recordings and rumbling vibrations truly got you into their mindset while waiting to hit their target. Afterwards you’re walking over a night-time version of the city as seen from the glider. This building was my favorite stop of the area. There was much more after walking through the glider – no photos.
My last shot is a bit hokey. There was a display for photo spots and yes, I got a shot. I couldn’t convince anyone else to step into the spot.
There are a number of monuments and stories that abound in this town. You could spend an entire day here wandering through the village. It was enjoyable even thought it was a repeat for myself and Eric. It was one of the first towns liberated during the invasion.