The Bridge at La Fiere

The 82nd Airborne Division had three key objectives on D-Day, to seize and hold St-Mere-Eglise, to seize and hold the bridge and the bridge head at Chef du Pont and to also seize and hold the bridge and the bridge head at La Fiere. The bridge was of huge strategic importance as it was one of the few ways to cross the river Merderet. The plan was then to meet up with troops landing at Utah beach and to stop any German reinforcements coming up towards Utah beach.

The task was assigned to the 1st battalion of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment to take the causeway which ran from La Fiere to the tiny hamlet of Cauquigny.  The water level had risen as a result of the Germans flooding the entire area in order to make it harder for an opposing army to land and in this case it was the paratroopers who suffered as they fell into these flooded areas.  Many drowned under the weight of all the equipment they carried.
Lt John Donovan of A Company followed by a group from C Company and a few men from the 507th arrived first on the scene and found the manor house near the bridge occupied by the enemy, so over the next few hours bitter fighting took place to dislodge the Germans which they did and then dug in.  The Germans arrived at the opposite end of the causeway at Cauquigny and started to try to take back the bridge with three captured French Renault tanks and infantry.  Two bazooka teams then fired on the tanks and knocked them out, and as a result the Germans withdrew, but later that day they tried again but they were beaten back for a second time.

The area was held for three days until troops moving up from the landings at Utah beach linked up with the paratroops and relieved these hard pressed men.
The area to the right of the manor farm is dominated by a statue of  Iron Mike and a memorial which overlooks the battle field.  Near the manor farmhouse you will see a fox hole that was used by General Gavin, or so the legend goes.

 

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