Normandy 1944 ~ Sainte-Mère-Eglise | Blogs About Life Experiences | John Steele

March 12, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Sainte-Mère-Eglise Church


Many of us around the globe have blood ties to World War 2. Mine flows through me from my grandfather, who fought in the Pacific as a member of the Coast Guard. 6400 miles away from where he fought, the war raged on through various regions of the old world. During the winter of 2018, I was lucky enough to visit parts of France where the D-Day invasion in June of 1944 occurred. My travels would take me from the commune of Sainte-Mère-Eglise, where 30 of the approximately 15,000 paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions would land, to the cliffs of Pointe du Hac, where 225 U.S. Army Rangers climbed 100 foot cliffs to seize German artillery pieces, to the beaches of Normandy and Omaha, where 194,000 troops would make the ultimate sacrifice, and lastly to the Normandy American Cemetery, where 9.386 of the military dead are laid to rest.

On a side-note, one of my biggest regrets of that trip is that I didn't pack my Nikon camera. I wanted to save on space since I had only brought my back pack to Europe, so all the photos I'm about to share were taken from my iPhone. While some of them came out really well, where I'm at now with my camera knowledge, I now know how much better they could've been. I'm pretty sure I blogged about this experience on my old website, but with-out record of it, I decided to do a new one with updated photos and words. 

"OK, lets go" General Dwight D. Eisenhower June 5th, 1944

Our journey begins in Sainte-Mère-Eglise, where on the night of Monday June 5th, 1944, 30 paratroopers would make their landing as Operation Overlord would commence. An airborne assault preceded the amphibious attack, as 15,000 paratroopers in total would be scattered behind enemy lines amidst the night sky in France. Some of them being shot dead while traversing through the air. John Steele, a member of the 82nd Airborne Division would have the unfortunate trajectory of being hung up on the bell tower of the Church of St. Mary. In the photo below you can see a mock up of the paratrooper caught up on the spire of the church. He'd be cut down by two German soldiers whom had been positioned in the bell tower, and taken into prisoner custody. Four days later he would make his escape towards the front line, and upon a successful attempt, be evacuated to the United Kingdom. (Hover over each photo shown to learn more about the photograph.)

The poppy dedicated to the remembrance of the 82nd Airborne pictured below reads: "To preserve the memory of those brave young men who gave their lives protecting this spot."

A mock up of John Steele hangs perched from the spire of St. Mary Church. A look inside the 11th century church. Bullet holes remain visible in the concrete walls of the church. 82nd Airborne Division Remembrance Poppy "To preserve the memory of those brave young men who gave their lives protecting this spot."

If you'd like to purchase any of these photos as a print, please email me personally as none of them are currently for sale to the public: Contact Me

To continue to part 2 of my 5 part series covering my travels to Normandy, France in February of 2018 click the link: HERE

To browse my current inventory of photography prints, click the link: HERE

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