Utah Beach is a wide, flat, muddy expanse of sand. When the Allied soldiers landed, they had to cross several hundred meters of exposed land, just to reach the German front lines. The death and destruction must have been tremendous. The beach was lined with barbed wire, metal tank traps, anti-tank trenches, and other defenses. The German lines themselves were built into the sand dunes, so they were both camouflaged and naturally hardened.
This is an excellent museum. It is dedicated to the American parachutists of the 82nd and 101st airborne divisions who dropped on Sainte-Mère-Eglise in the night of 5-6 June 1944.
It contains a rather nice Douglas C47 which was amongst other things actually used in Operation Market Garden.
Making a stop over at Sainte Mère Eglise requires a visit to the airborne museum.
This museum is really unique. Full of authenticity. Maintained with limited budgets and though make us awake of the premanent threat of the reality of the war.
I strongly recommend it, even to children
In the middle of the village square one finds a big monumental stone, that marks the first liberated point (in a village) on European mainland. From here the freedom spread over Europe and General Patton ordered that every mile that they advanced a milestone to be erected to mark there progress. This is the first of them, follwed by many until in the Belgian Ardennes (where the advance was roughly disturbed by the Battle of the Bulch).
Of course you have to visit the church of Sainte-Mere-Eglise. "Eglise" means church in French, so actually the village is named after the previous chapel, devoted to Saint-Mary, that stood on the place of where the church is now. In the church one can admire the beautiful stained windows that commemorate the dropping of the 101 paratroopers. Walk around in the church and discover many more placques that commemorate the events on the 6th of June night in 1944.
The church itself is also richly decorated with many statues and paintings. The highlight is - of course - the altar.
Outside, hanging from the top of the tower, one can see soldier Steel (see opening pages on Sainte-Mere-Eglise).
The village of Sainte-Mere-Eglise is proud of it's airborne museum. It holds many memorabilia from the fighting in and around Sainte-Mery-Eglise. Among it the famous "clickers" that were used as communication device between the scattered 101-paratroopers. One click had to be answered by two clicks, then one knew that the other party was not the enemy. This let to huge confusion, as for the simple fact that loading a gun sounded just like two clicks.
Furthermore the museum shows uniforms, planes and vehicles that the parachutists had, as well as it explaines the battle around Sainte-Mere-Eglise in details.
The Museum at Utah describes the invasion of the beaches on 6 June 1944. The museum discusses German and American uniforms and equipment, along with the plans of the attack and the results. This is a nice museum with many great artifacts. Outside you will find some weathered vehicles from both sides used during the battle.
The museum building was constructed right on the dunes overlooking the water. Some of the displays and dioramas are actually in the sand, under the building that you can see through the floor.
From Easter to the end of October, the museum is open from 0900-1200 & 1400-1900. The rest of the year, the museum hours are 1000-1200 & 1400-1600.
You must visit the Airborne Museum if events of June 1944 interest you at all. I'm not a paratrooper, never have been nor will be a paratrooper, but I was fascinated by the newspaper articles, personal artifacts, and displays that this museum has to offer. I could have read every single sign in there and that's not normally my modus operandi. Very interesting and informative. There is also a very good film about the airborne troops in the little theater in the museum.
This monument is located in front of the Utah Museum. It is dedicated to the dead from all Allied nations involved in the repatriation of France and the defeat of Germany. There are numerous monuments like this throughout Normandy erected by the French people to honor those who gave their lives for France.
The German defenses at Utah began at the water's edge with underwater stakes and tank traps. On the sand, the soldiers encountered line after line of barbed wire, mines, and trenches. At the dunes was the first line of German soldiers manning a variety of machine guns, rifles, and artillery pieces.
Inside the small church, two stained glass windows commemorate the Allied liberation of Sainte-Mére-Église on June 6 of 1944. One window depicts paratroopers falling from the sky around the Virgin Mary (representing the town of Sainte-Mére-Église). The red chains encircling her (representing the Nazi occupation) are being destroyed beneath them. The other window shows St. Michael, the patron saint of the airborne. The windows were dedicated in 1972 and today shine as a symbol of the town's remembrance of their American liberators.
In the heart of Sainte-Mére-Église, its small, 11th century church, which was immortalized in “The Longest Day,” now greets WW2 fanatics from around the world. A mannequin hangs from its tower, indicating the spot where American paratrooper John Steele landed during the early hours of the Normandy invasion. While the original stained glass windows inside the church were destroyed during the war, new windows have been installed to commemorate the victory of the Allied paratroopers.