The first US Assault wave to land on Utah Beach on D-Day, composed of units from the 8th regiment of the 4th Division, was led by Brigadier General Teddy Roosevelt Junior. They were lucky to miss their initial landing area as it was strongly defended and were pushed by strong currents and winds about one and a half miles south into a much less fortified area. Their mission was to lead the way inland through the flooded fields towards the village of Sainte Marie du Mont to link up with the paratroopers inland. With less than 30 soldiers killed during the landings on the beach, Utah had the lowest casualties of the five Allied invasion beaches that day.
Today between the sand dunes you can see the few German gun emplacements that opposed the American forces as well as numerous memorials dedicated to the different units involved in the assault. You can also see there the former German, later American, radio transmission bunker that today is part of the Roosevelt Café, a place where many veterans have left their autographs on the bar.
Made famous by the HBO mini-series ‘Band of Brothers’, the farm (or predominantly the field next to it) have become increasingly popular popular with WWII history buffs. In this ordinary looking field where cows graze today the German defenders had positioned four 105 mm German guns aimed at what was to become Utah beach. This battery had remained unnoticed by Allied Intelligence. At dawn on D-Day, the men from Easy company were sent to knock out these guns.
Today you can see
– Brecourt Manor and the farmhouse
– The Memorial to Easy company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division overlooking the field where the guns were located
Angoville au Plain
Situated close to Drop Zone D where the 501st and 506th Infantry Regiments were to land, Angoville au Plain was in the hands of a German Paratrooper Regiment as the Americans landed. These German forces, being out on a night exercise, heavily attacked the US Forces as they were coming in. Heavy fighting followed but here history shows that humans, despite war, stay human. There were a little more than a hundred Americans fighting a German regiment with civilians mixed in and around the two opposing sides. Two medics of the 501st, Robert Wright and Kenneth Moore, set up their local aid station in the small church in the village and looked after 80 wounded German and American soldiers, with wounded French civilians, too. With the battle going on all around them, they stayed in place looking after those that needed them. The village changed hands several times during the two days following the landings but the medics never abandoned their position.
Today you can see the church with its memorial dedicated to the two medics, where a mortar impacted inside the church as well as some traces from the temporary aid station that was once situated there.
There was only one road that could be used to get vehicles from Utah to Omaha and this road ran through the town of Carentan. With the fields surrounding the town and as far north as the beaches themselves flooded, the capture of this town was crucial to the development of the American First Army Bridgehead. In the invasion planning it was listed to be secured on June 7th but the German Paratroopers defending the town had other ideas. The 502nd Parachute Regiment was the US unit that had the job of securing the roadway into the town. Advancing past the aptly named Dead Man’s Corner and down Purple Heart Lane, the Paratroopers secured the road by June the 11th. But exhausted by the fighting of the previous two days the 502nd Regiment took up blocking positions and passed the attack over to the 506th Regiment. This was the unit that finally secured the village on June 12th 1944, an attack illustrated in the HBO Series ‘Band of Brothers’.