The First Men In: US Paratroopers And The Fight To Save D-Day

The First Men In: US Paratroopers And The Fight To Save D-Day

The First Men In: US Paratroopers and the Fight to Save D-Day

Of the nearly 15,000 Allied paratroopers dropped into France on D–14 (two weeks before D–Day), only one regiment––the 3,000 men of the 505 Parachute Infantry––had been tested in battle, and so they were given the toughest mission. For a few critical days, while the fate of occupied Europe hung in the balance, these troopers held their ground against savage assaults. In doing so, they changed the course of World War II.

Within hours of landing in Normandy, the paratroopers of the 505 Parachute Infantry Regiment had gathered in the darkened fields outside Ste. Mere Eglise and moved rapidly to the edge of town. A French civilian pointed out the German positions, and in a lightning attack the GI's liberated the first town in Europe, planting the United States flag on top of city hall.

Shortly after daylight, as reports streamed in, Allied commanders were shocked to learn that the 505 was the only one of six U.S. parachute regiments to hit its mark. Because Ste. Mere Eglise was the gateway to Utah Beach, the regiment––now fighting virtually alone––hastily dug in to await the German counterattacks that were sure...

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