France remembers America’s actions in Normandy
WILTON — The four days from June 6-9 mark the 76th anniversary of the Battle of Carentan, Normandy.
Jean-Pierre Lavielle of Wilton sent notice of a website, “Four days in June - The Battle of Carentan, Normandy,” which was set up this year to honor the few veterans of the 101st Airborne Division (the “Screaming Eagles”) who are still alive.
“This year it is impossible to honor them in person because of COVID-19. But the French still remember what we owe to them,” he said.
“It took the 101st Airborne Division four days of very tough combat (from June 6 to June 9, 1944) to free Carentan,” he said. “It was the first combat of the 101st for the liberation of France, its baptism by fire so to speak.”
One of the heroes of this battle was 29-year-old Lt. Col. Robert Cole of Texas. As part of the D-day invasion, he and his paratroopers jumped into Normandy. He led them in a bayonet charge on June 11, 1944 when they were hopelessly pinned down by the Germans in Carentan.
“The Germans could not believe it,” Lavielle said. “Col. Cole was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery. To my knowledge, this is the only example of a bayonet charge during World War II, at least on the Western Front.”
Amazingly, Cole survived this episode, only to be killed in action by an enemy sniper while directing P-47 air support near Best in the Netherlands on Sept. 18, 1944. There are several monuments in France dedicated to Cole’s and the 101st Airborne’s heroic actions.
“This is the United States that we the French remember and revere,” Lavielle said. “Seventy-six years later, the French still remember and are grateful despite the current craziness.
To access the site, visit https://quatrejoursenjuin.com and click on the American flag at the upper right. The site includes the ceremony and the ringing of the freedom bell.