Airborne Adventure Tour
Follow in the footsteps of the 82nd & 101st Airborne Divisions
Full day: Sainte-Mere-Eglise town > Airborne Museum
> La Fiere > Carentan > Filthy Thirteen Memorial
> Angoville-au-Plain > Easy Company Memorial at
Brecourt Manor > Leadership Monument
Airborne Adventure - Part 1 Sainte-Mere-Eglise
This tour starts in the beautiful town of Sainte-Mere-Eglise. Outside the church you can find a series of tourist information boards which will direct you to various locations with Then/Now images for you to compare 1944 to today.
One of the most famous stories surrounding the parachute drop into Sainte-Mere-Eglise is that of Private John Steele who's parachute was caught on the bell tower and steeple of the church - and there's a dummy in that position which always draws the cameras.
Don't forget to go inside the church and see the amazing stained glass windows which pay tribute to the paratroopers who landed here on D-Day.
Cross the square to see the bullet marks in the railings of the fence. Lots of shops, cafes, and restaurants in the town - we can recommend La Normandie for a cool drink.
APPROX TIME: 2 HOURS
DIRECTIONS: Sainte-Mere-Eglise is signposted from all major routes from the N13 motorway. Parking in town square except on market day Thursday.
Airborne Adventure - Part 2 Airborne Museum
LOCATION: Airborne Museum, Sainte-Mere-Eglise
Amazing museum with three main buildings and thousands of exhibits, this is one of the must-visit museums for anyone visiting Normandy.
The whole place tells the incredible stories of heroism of the men who dropped from the sky on D-Day, but also the people of the town and their sacrifices too. The museum is built on the site where all the action happened!
APPROX. TIME: 3 HOURS
READ MORE IN OUR MUSEUMS SECTION
DIRECTIONS: Easy to find in Sainte-Mere-Eglise, the museum is just off the main square near to the church.
Airborne Adventure - Part 3 La Fiere battle site
LOCATION: Memorial Parachutiste - Iron Mike Memorial, La Fière, 50480 Sainte-Mère-Église
The bridge over the Merderet river at La Fiere to the west of Sainte-Mere-Eglise was one of the key D-Day objectives for the US 82nd Airborne - but it wasn't an easy task and resulted in three days of battles between the paratroopers and the occupying German forces. The Germans, who were even supported by tanks, counter attacked repeatedly after loosing the bridge and were finally defeated on June 9.
The attack and subsequent defence of the river crossing was led by General James Gavin and he is remembered on the plinth of the Iron Mike statue which stands overlooking the river today within a small memorial park dedicated to the US paratroopers.
APPROX. TIME: 30 MINS
DIRECTIONS: Head out of Sainte-Mere-Eglise south west on the D15 for 3.5km. La Fiere is on your right hand side before the Merderet river bridge.
Airborne Adventure - Part 4 Medal of Honor, Carentan
LOCATION: Robert G Cole Memorial, 50500 Carentan les Marais, France
This is the spot where 101st Airborne Lt Colonel Robert G Cole began the famous ‘bayonet charge’ on June 11, 1944 - an action which would see him awarded the US Medal of Honor.
Lt. Col. Cole was personally leading his battalion in forcing the last four bridges on the road to Carentan when his entire unit was suddenly pinned to the ground by intense rifle, machine gun, mortar, and artillery fire placed upon them from well-prepared and heavily fortified German positions within 150 yards of the foremost elements.
After the devastating and unceasing enemy fire had for over an hour prevented any move and inflicted numerous casualties, Lt. Col. Cole, observing this almost hopeless situation, courageously issued orders to assault the enemy positions with fixed bayonets. With utter disregard for his own safety and completely ignoring the enemy fire, he rose to his feet in front of his battalion and with drawn pistol shouted to his men to follow him in the assault.
Catching up a fallen man’s rifle and bayonet, he charged on and led the remnants of his battalion across the bullet-swept open ground and into the enemy position. His heroic and valiant action in so inspiring his men resulted in the complete establishment of a bridgehead across the Douve River. The cool fearlessness, personal bravery, and outstanding leadership displayed by Lt. Col. Cole reflect great credit upon himself and we’re worthy of the highest praise in the military service - the Medal of Honor.
APPROX. TIME: 25 MINS
DIRECTIONS: From La Fiere follow the D15 back to the N13 motorway - 4 mins (3.3 km)
After approx. 10km take the D913 to Carentan, past the Dead Man's Corner Museum, and onto the D974 (known as Purple Heart Lane) to the large roundabout. The memorial is on your right hand side. Parking in nearby layby.
Airborne Adventure - Part 5 Filthy Thirteen Monument, Brevands
LOCATION: Memorial Filthy Thirteen, Brevands, 50500 Carentan les Marais
The Filthy Thirteen were a demolition team from the 101st Airborne Division - the famous Screaming Eagles - who jumped into Normandy on D-Day.
Nicknamed the Filthy Thirteen due to their living style while stationed in England, they stood out from the other paratroopers due to their war paint and mohawk haircuts - paying tribute to team member Jake McNeice’s Native American heritage.
This memorial near Brevands, Normandy honours their sacrifice during their successful mission to secure or destroy the bridges over the Douve River.
APPROX. TIME: 20 MINS
DIRECTIONS: From the Robert G Cole Memorial head south on the D974 into the centre of Carentan and port area on the Rue de Caligny and the D98E on the right hand side of the canal (approx. 10 mins).
Stay on this Rue du Moulin road, cross the Bailey Bridge, and after 4km you'll see the memorial on your right.
Airborne Adventure - Part 6 Medics at Angoville-au-Plain church
LOCATION: Angoville-au-Plain Medic's church, 5 Rue de l'Église, 50480 Carentan les Marais
Inside the church at Angoville-au-Plain you can discover an amazing story of bravery and humanity.
This was the location of an emergency first aid post set up by two US paratroopers Robert Wright and Kenneth Moore and in the three days following D-Day saw them treat 75 soldiers from both sides of the conflict while battles raged all around them - their only rule was that no weapons were allowed inside.
Today you can still see blood stains on the original pews while a series of stained glass windows pay tribute to the two men and the liberating forces which freed the area from occupation.
APPROX. TIME: 30 MINS
DIRECTIONS: From the Filthy Thirteen memorial head back to Carentan and towards the N13 on the D974 road (Dead Man's Corner Museum/D-Day Experience will be on your left), cross over the top of the motorway in the direction of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont.
After 1.3km turn sharp right into Rue de l'Eglise and follow the road to your left to the village. You can't miss the church!
Airborne Adventure - Part 7 Easy Company Memorial, Brecourt Manor
LOCATION: Easy Company Memorial, Brecourt, 50480 Sainte-Marie-du-Mont
The Easy Company Memorial remembers the fallen ‘Band of Brothers’ from the US 101st Airborne Division, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
It stands at the corner of a field at Brécourt Manor in Normandy, a site which turned a group of exceptional men into global icons following one of the boldest assaults in WW2 history.
In the distance you can see the trees which hide the famous trench system which once housed four positions for 105mm cannons here, each covering the nearby Utah Beach area and roads the allies needed to use to get their men and armour off the beach.
Lt Richard Winters and his men from the 101st were tasked with silencing the guns in an attack which proved that a small band of men can destroy a major gun position with the right tactics and bravery.
APPROX. TIME: 20 MINS
DIRECTIONS: From Angoville-au-Plain, head back to the D913 road towards Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, go through the village following the sign for Utah Beach.
Approx. 1.3km from the church, turn left on to the D14. The Easy Company Memorial is on your left after 500m.
Airborne Adventure - Part 8 Richard D Winters Leadership Monument
LOCATION: Richard D Winters Leadership Monument, 50480 Sainte-Marie-du-Mont
The Leadership Monument depicts Richard D Winters from the US 101st Airborne Easy Company – the ‘Band of Brothers’.
On D-Day he led his men on a daring assault of a German artillery position at Brécourt Manor which was firing on the nearby Utah landing beach. Silencing the position with just a handful of men, the assault was a major success and was used as an example in the training of future generations of US soldiers.
A humble man, there is a quote from him on the side of the monument which reads: “Wars do not make men great, but they bring out the greatness in good men.”
APPROX. TIME: 20 MINS
DIRECTIONS: From the Easy Company Memorial head back 500m and turn left on to the D913 road headed towards Utah Beach. After 400m you'll see the monument on your left hand side.