No Better Place to Die: Ste-Mere Eglise, June 1944-The Battle for la Fiere Bridge

Overview

The you-are-there story of one of the most ferocious small-unit combats in US history . . .

As part of the massive Allied invasion of Normandy, three airborne divisions were dropped behind enemy lines to sow confusion in the German rear and prevent panzer reinforcements from reaching the beaches. In the dark early hours of D-Day, this confusion was achieved well enough, as nearly every airborne unit missed its drop zone, creating a kaleidoscope...

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Overview

The you-are-there story of one of the most ferocious small-unit combats in US history . . .

As part of the massive Allied invasion of Normandy, three airborne divisions were dropped behind enemy lines to sow confusion in the German rear and prevent panzer reinforcements from reaching the beaches. In the dark early hours of D-Day, this confusion was achieved well enough, as nearly every airborne unit missed its drop zone, creating a kaleidoscope of small-unit combat.

Fortunately for the Allies, the 505th Regimental Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division hit on or near its drop zone. Its task was to seize the vital crossroads of Ste Mère Eglise, and to hold the bridge over the Merderet River at nearby La Fière. Benefiting from dynamic battlefield leadership, the paratroopers reached the bridge, only to be met by wave after wave of German tanks and infantry desperate to force the crossing.

Reinforced by glider troops, who suffered terribly in their landings from the now-alert Germans, the 505th not only held the vital bridge for three days but launched a counterattack in the teeth of enemy fire to secure their objective once and for all, albeit at gruesome cost. In No Better Place to Die, Robert M. Murphy provides an objective narrative of countless acts of heroism, almost breathtaking in its “you are there” detail.

No World War II veteran is better known in 82nd Airborne circles than Robert M. (“Bob”) Murphy. A Pathfinder and member of A Company, 505th PIR, Bob was wounded three times in action, and made all four combat jumps with his regiment, fighting in Sicily, Italy, Normandy, and Holland. He was decorated for valor for his role at La Fière, and is a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor. After the war, he was instrumental in establishing the 505th RCT Association.

A selection of the Military Book Club

REVIEWS

outstanding memoir...accounts and memoirs from many of his comrades plus supporting documents that give a fuller picture of what the 82nd accomplished on D-Day and the days after.
WWII History, Winter 2009

“…brings readers a precise historical memoir …Those wanting an up close and personal memoir …have an opportunity to receive it from an American fighting man who lived to tell the tale.”
MILITARY, November 2010

“…well illustrated with plenty of relevant black and white photographs, this is an absolute gem of a book and a must for anyone interested in the Normandy Campaign.”
Combat and Survival, August 2011

“…a fascinating read… really well balanced and authoritative account”
Military Modeling, 08/17/2011
…”provides an objective narrative of countless acts of heroism, almost breathtaking in its you are there detail.
Reenactor’s Magazine

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Editorial Reviews

Military Modeling
...a fascinating read... really well balanced and authoritative account
Combat and Survival
...well illustrated with plenty of relevant black and white photographs, this is an absolute gem of a book and a must for anyone interested in the Normandy Campaign.
Reenactor's Magazine
...provides an objective narrative of countless acts of heroism, almost breathtaking in its you are there detail.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781935149880
  • Publisher: Casemate Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/8/2011
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword Colonel Mark J. Alexander 7

Introduction Ian Daglish 10

Part I "No Better Place to Die." By Bob Murphy 15

Chapter 1 Soldiers Tell the Tale 16

Chapter 2 A Change of Plan 23

Chapter 3 Operation Overlord: A Pathfinder's View 36

Chapter 4 The Battle at La Fière: The Mission of the 1st Battalion, 505 Parachute Infantry Regiment 44

Chapter 5 Across the Causeway 64

Chapter 6 The Battle of Chef-du-Pont 80

Chapter 7 D-Day Plus One: June 7, 1944 91

Chapter 8 Advance across the Marsh 107

Chapter 9 Last Enemy Attack and the End of the Normandy Campaign 124

Part II Eyewitness Reports: Paratrooper Accounts 131

Landing Alone on D-Day Howard Huebner 132

"The Hottest Single Incident": The 1st Battalion, 505 Parachute Infantry Regiment at La Fière Mark J. Alexander 134

The Tank Attack on La Fière Causeway; June 6, 1944 Marcus Heim 142

Letter to General Gavin John Dolan 146

"Chief" Turner Turnbull: The Action at Neuville-au-Plain Bob Murphy 153

D-Day in Ste. Mère-Eglise Spencer F. Wurst 157

Part III Eyewitness Reports: Gliderist Accounts 169

A Brief History on Gliders Bob Murphy 170

D-Day Glider Landing Clinton Riddle 172

Landing with the Tank Force at Utah Beach Lucius P. Young 176

The 325 Glider Infantry Regiment Attack across La Fière Causeway Lee Travelstead 180

A Medic in Normandy Chester Walker 187

The Fighting at Cauquigny and Le Motey Wayne Pierce 193

Part IV Eyewitness Reports: French and German Accounts 197

The Opposition: Panzer Ersatz und Ausbildungs Abteilung 100 198

The Battle of La Fière, Seen from the Manoir Madame Louis Leroux 201

Manning the Bell Tower at Ste. Mère-Eglise: A German Perspective Rudolph May 205

The Light of Day: June 6, 1944. By Alexandre Renaud, Wartime Mayor of Ste. Mère-Eglise 211

Part V Return to Normandy 215

Epilogue Bob Murphy 216

Acknowledgments 227

Appendix A Citations 230

Robert M. Murphy: Bronze Star Medal with Bronze V Device 230

Marcus Heim: Distinguished Service Cross 231

Charles DeGlopper: Medal of Honor 232

Appendix B Historical Notes and Documents 233

Timeline: 82d Airborne Division 233

The Activation of the 505 Parachute Infantry Regiment 236

Jump Training 238

The Parachutist's Creed 241

Notes on the 505 Pathfinders 243

Pathfinder Employment for Operation Neptune 246

Appendix C Stories for the Next Generation 249

In Memory of Bill Owens Bob Murphy 249

The Rabbit's Tale. Or, How a Big French Jackrabbit Helped Win the War D. Zane Schlemmer 251

Christmas in the Bulge, 1944 D. Zane Schlemmer 254

Living History, Keeping History Alive: A Tribute to the 82d Airborne Division Emile Lacroix 257

Comments on Research and Further Reading Bob Murphy 264

Editor's Note Gayle Wurst 267

Index 269

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