Hope & Freedom: D-Day in Sainte-Mère-Église | EUROtoday

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Unbeknownst to both the French townspeople or their German occupiers, battalions of planes flying in formation from England have been breaking by way of the clouds, sending their paratroopers floating downward towards the countryside. Most paratroopers missed their goal. Some landed in occupied Sainte-Mère-Église, solely to be shot by Germans as they descended. One, Private John Steele, landed with a thud on the roof of the church, his parachute catching on the bell tower and inflicting him to dangle alongside the roof, trapped within the sights of the Germans. Afraid he could be shot if he moved, he performed lifeless for 45 minutes, till a German soldier within the bell tower, suspecting Steele was alive, lower the ropes on his parachute, permitting Steele to climb down. Steele was taken prisoner that evening, however he quickly escaped to affix his comrades. Today, a parachute and dummy soldier cling from the church's bell tower as a remembrance of Private Steele and maybe of the paratroopers who weren’t as lucky as he.

Inside the church, stained glass home windows function a reminder of the paratroopers who landed within the city. One window depicts the Madonna and Child above the burning city with paratroopers and planes. The different window particulars Saint Michael, the patron saint of paratroopers, with symbols and insignia of Normandy and US paratroopers from the 82n/a Airborne Division who parachuted into the city and surrounding space on the evening of the D-Day invasion.

Hope, Freedom, Fraternity: Remembering Sainte-Mère-Église