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Includes 6 maps
As the tens of thousands of American troops began their approach toward the forbidding German-defended Normandy coast, their comrades in the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions had already flown over the Channel and began dropping and gliding into enemy territory. The Airborne Divisions had a role critical to the success of the entire Normandy Landings; beyond the initial beach landing areas were miles of flooded defended ditches and waterways. If the German troops managed to defend these bottlenecks the Americans on Utah Beach, at the extreme right of the operation, would be unable to move forward and might have foundered on the beach...
“According to plan, the D Day objectives of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment were well concentrated. After dropping into Normandy a little to the north and east of the city of Carentan, the regiment was to press south and westward and establish the defensive position in this direction. In detail, it was to secure the line of the lower Douve River, first by seizing the strategic lock on the Canal De Vire Et Taute at Le Barquette and then by blowing the river bridges...
“From the beginning, American attention was directed at the Le Barquette lock. This unique objective and its possible military application appears to have fascinated the imaginations not only of those who planned Operation Neptune but of the commanders who were to execute it. To get to the lock first and to make certain that the enemy would have no use of it became an overriding consideration with the planning and tactical forces. American apprehensions as to what might happen if the Germans gained control of the lock superinduced one of the boldest strokes of the Normandy campaign, a stroke boldly made and tactically productive. Yet whether the emphasis placed on the position by the Allied planners was justifiable was never confirmed by the attitude of the enemy.”