- Airborne Museum, Rue Eisenhower, Sainte-Mère-Église, France
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The Sainte-Mère-Église museum was inaugurated in 1964 right where American paratroopers were involved in fierce battles during the night of 5 to 6 June and the following days. The museum holds an important collection of uniforms, weaponry and other war memorabilia. Two additional buildings opened in June 2014.
The Sainte-Mère-Église Museum opened its doors in 1964. Over the years it has become one of the major attractions in the landings area. Sainte-Mère-Église became famous after the release of the film ‘The Longest Day’ by Darryl F. Zanuck, based on a book by Cornelius Ryan. This museum is essentially dedicated to the memory of American paratroopers from the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions who were dropped over the base of the Cotentin Peninsula during the night of 5 to 6 June 1944.
Visitors can appreciate the weaponry used by American airborne units during the Second World War. The American paratroopers and their role in the Landing in Normandy are the focus of the Sainte-Mère-Église Museum. The collection features the deservedly famous troop transportation plane Douglas C-47 (also known as ‘Skytrain’) as well as a Waco glider which cannot be seen anywhere in France other than in Sainte-Mère-Église.
Since its opening, veterans have ceaselessly donated war items related to their individual experiences within the bigger war effort and have thus endowed the museum with a deeply moving human approach.
In June 2014, an extension of the museum opened its doors. It makes visitors even more knowledgeable about the historical battles the American paratroopers were involved in after landing in Normandy.
The modern scenography featured in a special area enables visitors to almost share the inner feelings of those American paratroopers as they were, for example, flying over the Channel, squeezed inside the cabin of a C-47 plane. A legendary American training and reconnaissance plane known as the Piper Cub has pride of place in the hall of the extension.
Fought between the iconic landings on 6 June 1944 and the liberation of Paris on 25 August, the Battle of Normandy is often overlooked. Yet this campaign decided the course of the war in Northwestern Europe. The losses were huge: more than 100.000 people were killed during the 80 days, 20.000 of them civilians.
Two museums can be found in Saint-Côme-du-Mont: the D-Day Experience exhibits the American side and Dead Man’s Corner Museum, the German perspective. The museum tells the story of the liberators of Europe through an interactive route with the possibility to take part in virtual experiences and simulations.
As an artillery officer for the U.S. 101st Airborne Division, Parker Alford travelled to Normandy, France, as part of the D-Day invasion. In the lead-up to D-Day, Alford was stationed near Newbury, England, in one of the sealed forest camps used by the allies to hide troops and equipment from enemy detection.