Fourth Day : Saturday 4 June 2022. Rest
Fifth Day, Sunday June 2022 Sainte Mère Eglise – La Fière DZ La Fière : Operation Father Maternowski (KIA June 1944)
One of the essential missions of the 82nd American Airborne Division was to take the bridges spanning the Fière river and the ones in Chef-du-Pont, all located west of Sainte-Mère-Église. Between 6 and 9 June 1944, fierce battles took place in the surrounding area of Merderet, in the midst of swamps purposely flooded by German forces.
On 6 June, at daybreak, a company belonging to the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) as well as soldiers from the 507th and 508th regiments took the La Fière manor as well as the bridge over la Fière river by storm. At the end of the afternoon, German forces, though backed up by tanks, failed to recapture the bridge.
The following two days German forces counter-attacked repeatedly. Yet, in spite of a lack of ammunitions, the American soldiers stood their ground. On 9 June General John Gavin led a bloody assault through the flooded areas to take control of the road and make it safe. Backed up by tanks from Utah Beach, American paratroopers managed, once and for all, to take the village of Cauquigny. This victory put an end to the battle of La Fière river.
To pay tribute to the numerous American paratroopers and infantry men who lost their lives in this area, a statute baptized ‘Iron Mike’ was erected.
This year again, the RCPT will perform commemorative airdrops along with the active military airborne forces on DZ “La Fière”. Our jump will be dedicated to Franciscan father Maternowski, Chaplain of the 508th PIR 82nd AB, he perished after being shot in the back at the battle of Gueutteville, the morning of June 6th 1944.