This is the story of an American paratrooper from
the 82nd Airborne Division who landed near Utah on D-Day.
He recently went back to Normandy to see the battleground
the battle had even begun the river had claimed
the lives of many of my buddies..."
This AV documentary was created by Mollie
McConaghy of Bangor, Co.Down. Narration is by Austin
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an outline of the story.
|Many of the pilots
didn't know where they were due to thick cloud.
Paratroopers were dropped over a much wider era
than planned. Many were drowned or shot on landing.
at Ste Mere Eglise, the first town to be freed during
the Normandy assault.
|Monument to Paratrooper
John Steele who's parachute tangled on the church.
He hung there all night pretending to be dead. He
was rescued next morning by 82nd A.D.
||In the church at Ste
Mere Eglise there are now stained-glass windows
depicting the paratroopers landing.
|The town is littered
with memorials to the events which took place there,
including the Zero Kilometre stone, the first step
on the road to liberty.
||There is also a commorative
stone to the Generals, Ridgeway and Gavin who commanded
the battle for the town.
|The Merderet River
had been flooded by the Germans and as the troops
came down many landed in the water and were drowned,
weighed down by their heavy equiment.
||This bridge over the
Merderet was an important objective and it took
two full days of fierce battle to secure it.
|Beside the Merderet
river the French have erected a statue, commemorating
the American servicemen and the huge loss of life
that they suffered in this place.
||At Utah beach there
is now a museum which has been designed to resemble
a gun emplacement.
|Road names around
the Utah beach are all called after servicemen who
fell on D-Day. Names that will not be forgotten.
||Many of the commemorative
sites have been left just as they were in 1944...
strong visual reminders of what took place there.
|This German battery
at Crisbecq survived tremendous bombardment for
6 days and still stands today, a dark and brooding
place, filled with the ghost of those who served
||At Pointe du Hoc a
party of Rangers scaled these cliffs in the teeth
of gunfire, mortars and grenades. A third of its
men were killed here. The area was sucessfully secured.
|Omaha beach. This
was the scene for the bloodiest battle of the D-Day
operation. Over 3000 troops were killed in just
one day. 4Km of golden sand shows no evidence except...
||...for the rusting
remains of a "Higgins" boat. The landing
craft used by the Allied Forces to deliver thousands
of troops onto the Normandy beaches.
|The American graveyard
behind Omaha beach. Thousands of alabaster crosses
stretch in all directions almost as far as the eye
||Only a couple of miles
away the German cemetary, with its black granite
crosses and mourning figures. 20,000 Germans are
Original Photography and
AV production by Mollie McConaghy.
In 1955 Mollie, originally from Co. Antrim, attended
a language course in the University of Caen where her
tutor was a young man called Andre Heintz. He had been
a resistance worker in his native city of Caen and had
been responsible for the reception of the various signals
warning about D-Day. His crystal set, embedded in a
spinach tin is now in the museum and he himself has
been featured in a number of D-Day documentaries.
Andre was passionate about the fact that most people
couldn't comprehend the enormous sacrifices made, so
he made sure that his students were taken to all the
sites from Pegasus Bridge in the East to Carentan and
explained the details of Operation Overlord. Of course
at that time the scars of war were still very visible
and few of the present day memorials had even been thought
of. The whole experience inspired in Mollie a fascination
with the period and the area which is still very much
A few relevant websites... If you enter D-Day
into your search engine you'll soon discover that there
is a seemingly endless resource online on this topic.
Here below are just a very few of those we've found.
Please note that the BBC is not responsible for content
on external sites.
BBC Newsline D-Day Remembered - series of special reports
BBC WWII History site
BBC News D-Day 60th
D-Day 60 UK
United States Army in World War II: US Army forces
in Northern Ireland - Stations of Units
US National D-Day Memorial Foundation
Britannica.com learning resource on Normandy
D-Day, Normandy & beyond, eyewitness WWII
The Normandy Invasion 1944
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