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Utah Beach Driving Tour

This driving tour stops at several of the monuments and historical sites from the landings at Utah Beach.

Utah Beach was the landing beach furthest to the west on D-Day, June 6, 1944. The 4th Infantry successfully landed at Utah Beach with the assistance of the 101st Airborne Division that had dropped just inland earlier in the day. 

The Utah Beach Memorial

This monument commemorates the achievements of the American Forces of the VII Corps who landed and fought in the liberation of the Cotentin Peninsula from June 6, 1944 to July 1, 1944. The memorial consists of a red granite obelisk surrounded by a small, developed park overlooking the historic sand dunes of Utah Beach, one of the two American landing beaches during the Normandy invasion of June 6, 1944. 

A dedication to those who lost their lives in the liberation of Utah Beach.

The 90th Infantry Division Monument

This monument honors the men of the 90th Infantry Division who fought across Europe from D-Day to the end of the war. The monument is built from granite taken from the Flossenbürg concentration camp in Bavaria, which was liberated by the 90th Infantry Division on April 23, 1945. The monument ties together the 90th Infantry Division's participation in the European Theater from their landings on Utah Beach through to their entry into Germany.

In Habscheid, Germany, men from Company E, 358th Infantry, 90th Infantry Division, move to the front of the Siefried Line. February 12, 1945.

The 4th Infantry Division Monument

The 4thInfantry Division Monument commemorates the men of the 4thInfantry Division who fought in World War II. Gen. Omar Bradley, who had commanded the 1stU.S. Army at Utah and Omaha Beaches, inaugurated the monument on June 6, 1964. 

Troops of the 4th Infantry move off the Utah Beachhead on D-Day.

The Statue of Lt. Richard Winters

Lt. Richard Winters took over command of Easy Company on June 6, 1944, leading these men through an assault on Brécourt Manor. This statue in his honor was unveiled in 2012. It was designed by the sculptor Richard Spears, who also designed the Naval statue at Omaha Beach as well as the Doughboy statue at Cantigny. The statue commemorates leadership by all U.S. Officers during the Normandy invasion.

Maj. Richard "Dick" Winters.

Br court Manor

The hedgerow at Brecourt Manor.

Following the crash of the C-47 carrying 1stLt. Thomas Meehan II, the company commander of Company E, 2ndBattalion, 506thParachute Infantry Regiment of the 101stAirborne Division, command of the company went to 1stLt. Richard Winters who was subsequently given the task of destroying a German artillery battery near causeway exit #2 off Utah Beach. Winters, with a team of twelve, attacked Brécourt Manor, three miles southwest of Utah Beach. After successfully taking out the nearby battery, machine-gun fire from Brécourt Manor forced them to withdraw, though before doing so, Winters discovered a German map that included the location of all German artillery and machine guns within the Cotentin Peninsula. 1st Lt. Lewis Nixon ran to Utah Beach in order to pass the information up the chain of command.

The assault at Brécourt Manor was one of the contributing factors to the successful landings on Utah Beach, in stark contrast to the trouble American divisions faced on Bloody Omaha.

Memorial to 101st Airborne Division, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment "E" Company at Brecourt Manor.

Saint-Marie-du-Mont

A plaque dedicated to the troopers of the 101st Airborne, with the church at Saint-Marie-du-Mont in the background.

Saint-Marie-du-Mont was the site of a battle between the American 101stAirborne Division and German forces on June 6, 1944, and was the first village to be liberated during the D-Day invasion. 

Troopers of the 101st Airborne Division and villagers of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont on June 7, 1944.

Early on June 6, paratroopers began dropping behind enemy lines in the vicinity of Saint-Marie-du-Mont in order to secure key targets prior to the landings on Utah Beach. The 501stand 506th Airborne Infantry Regiments were spread widely after the drop; however, Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor was able to successfully regroup his men and captured the village later that afternoon. 

Marie-Esther Duchenes, a Red Cross volunteer, with soldiers of the 90th Infantry Division on June 12, 1944.

Sainte-Mère-Eglise

Church with parachute memorial to John Steele in Sainte-Mère- glise.

On the morning of June 6, 1944 at 0140 paratroopers of the 82ndand 101stAirborne Divisions began landing in St. Mere Eglise. Fires in the town lit up the sky making the paratroopers easy targets to German defenders on the ground. Many ended up caught on trees and utility poles and were shot by the Germans before reaching the ground. 

Aerial photomap of landing and target zones in the areas of Sainte-Mère- glise, issued to paratroopers on D-Day.

One paratrooper, Pvt. John M. Steele, was caught on the spire of the town church, and hung limply for hours, feigning dead, but was eventually taken prisoner by the Germans. He would later escape the Germans when the 3rd Battalion, 505thParachute Infantry Regiment attacked the village.

Paratroopers depicted in stained glass at a church in Sainte-Mère- glise.

At 0500, Lt. Col. Edward C. Krause of the 505thParachute Infantry Regiment successfully captured the town. The town was one of the first to be liberated during the invasion. The 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment saw heavy counterattacks later on June 6 and into June 7. The paratroopers held the town until they were reinforced late on June 7 by tanks from Utah Beach.

La Fière Bridge

La Fiere Bridge, to the west of Saint-Mere-Eglise, was a major causeway over the then flooded Merderet River, and was one of the three major objectives of the 82ndAirborne Division on D-Day, the other two being Sainte-Mere-Eglise and the bridgehead at Chef du Pont. La Fiere was captured on D-Day by a group of 400 paratroopers led by Col. Roy Lindquist but the German forces forced them to withdraw by the end of the day. Following orders to seize the bridge from Gen. Matthew Ridgway, American forces were able to seize the bridge on D+3, June 9, 1944, following massive artillery bombardment. 

The Iron Mike Statue

The Iron Mike statue was unveiled on June 7, 1997 and commemorates the American Airborne forces that participated in the D-Day invasion of France. Named Iron Mike after St. Michael, the patron saint of the Airborne, the Iron Mike statue is a replica of one located at the U.S. Army Infantry School in Fort Benning, Georgia.

Dead Man's Corner

The burned-out tank that gave "Dead Man's Corner" its name.

On June 7, 1944, as U.S. forces advanced on Carentan, Lt. Walter T. Anderson, in the first tank arriving at this crossroad, was wounded by enemy fire, and perished. For several days his body hung outside his turret until it was recovered, giving the crossroad the name Dead Man’s Corner. Anderson is buried at the Normandy American Cemetery (Plot F, Row 7, Grave 15). 

Purple Heart Lane

The Carentan Causeway, or Purple Heart Lane.

The 3rd Battalion, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment was a unit of 400 men led by Lt. Col. Robert G. Cole. The unit was a part of D-Day Mission Albany, in which paratroopers were dropped behind enemy lines in the support of the Normandy landings. This unit was called out of reserve into action to attack four bridges on highway N13/E46 to Carentan on June 10 and 11, 1944, and an intense battle ensued for nearly two days. U.S. troops were subject to heavy machine gun, mortar, sniper and artillery fire. It is estimated that 67% of the original force suffered casualties in this battle, resulting in the nickname “Purple Heart Lane” for that portion of the Carentan-Sainte-Mère-Église highway.

The Battle of Carentan

M7 Priest of the 2nd Armored Division in Carentan, France, June 18, 1944.
Carentan, looking north along the highway. June 10-11, 1944.

The 101stAirborne Division attacked to seize Carentan. This town dominated vital crossings of the Douve River, and was critical to linking forces coming through Utah Beach with those from Omaha Beach. The division launched two converging attacks, one across river flats to the east of the town and one along a six-foot causeway over the marshes into the town from the north. The defenders enjoyed significant terrain advantages, but the paratroopers ultimately pushed their way through heavy fire to the outskirts of the town, entering the town on June 12, 1944. 

French civilians welcome men of the U.S. 7th Corps as they pass through the streets, c. 12 June 1944.
101st Airborne troopers ride on a captured German Kubelwagen through Carentan after its liberation. June 12, 1944.

The Battle of Bloody Gulch

The Battle of Bloody Gulch occurred one mile southwest of Carentan at an imposing hill designated Hill 30 by the U.S. Army. The American 501st, 502nd, and 506thParachute Infantry Regiments from the 101stAirborne Division met a heavy attack from elements of the German 17thSS Panzergrenadier Division and 6th Fallschirmjäger Regiment. As the 506thand 501stpushed southwest of Carentan on the morning of June 13, they met with attacking forces of the 6thFallschirmjäger, and were pushed back nearly to the edge of the town. An intense attack by the Germans proceeded over the course of the day, nearly breaking through the American defenses, but at 4:30 p.m., sixty tanks of the 2ndArmored Division arrived as reinforcements and counterattacked forcing the German forces to withdraw. The American success in the Battle of Bloody Gulch allowed the Allied forces from Utah and Omaha Beaches to link up.