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The village of "Sanctae Mariae Ecclesia", Latin for "Church of St. Mary" was founded in the 12th century. The village was involved in the Hundred Years War as well as the Wars of Religion. It played a significant part in the World War II Normandy landings because it stood right in the middle of route N13. The Germans would have most likely used N13 to counterattack troops landing on Utah and Omaha Beaches. In the early morning of 6 June 1944 units of the U.S. 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions occupied the town in Operation Boston, giving it the claim to be one of the first towns liberated in the invasion. The landings resulted in heavy casualties for the paratroopers. Some buildings were on fire and illuminated the sky, making easy targets of the descending men. Some were sucked into the fire. Many hanging from trees and utility poles were shot before they could be cut loose. A famous incident involved paratrooper John Steele whose parachute caught on the spire of the town church. He hung there limply for two hours, pretending to be dead, before the Germans took him prisoner. Steele later escaped from the Germans and rejoined his division. My visit to the village corresponded with D-Day celebrations in 2006. The village was festooned with Canadian, British and U. S. flags.
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