Carentan, O Carentan

General Maxwell Davenport Taylor’s 101st Airborne Division received in Normandy, June 1944 its baptism of Fire. Entering the frau shortly after midnight on June 6th 1944, the Screaming Eagles would within 48 hours secure and accomplished all its d day objectives. With Saint Côme du Mont in American hands, the American headquarters could focus on the key City of Carentan.

The battle of Carentan does not always receive the recognition it deserves, considering its utmost importance in the securing and spreading of the american beach heads in the early phase of the Normandy invasion. Both General headquarters of the German and Allied sides quickly realized the significance of the small Norman town at the foot of the Cotentin Peninsula. Rommel, backed by Hitler, sent early orders for a full SS Panzer Division to rush up north from Thouars with strict orders to kick the americans back into the Channel. With the 101st Airborne Division having accomplished all of its D Day missions, Eisenhower, Bradley and Collins decided to use the paratroopers aggressiveness to unlock the heavily fortified key City of Carentan. It would take an all out effort by all four Regiments of the airborne division to free and secure the City after 4 days of bloody fighting. The clash of the american paratroopers versus their German counterparts, the battle hardened Fallschirmjaegers, reached titanic proportions, along the N13 Heighway rightfully nicknamed Purple heart lane by the paratroopers. The exhausted paratroopers would then face the brunt of the SS assault to re take Carentan on June 13th. Thanks to the swift arrival of an entire armored Combat Team of the 2nd Armored Division, Carentan would hold, never to be re taken. Bomb damaged and bloodied by the fighting, with over 250 homes destroyed, Carentan emerged free and forever grateful to its american liberators.

When we hit the ground on Utah Beach June 6th 1944, our lives brutally changed in proportion not one of us would have imagined. We did not know it yet but we were being thrown into an adventure that would stay with us our entire lives. The dark and gloomy sight of the battle fields would haunt me forever, braking my self confidence, changing my personality. Members of my squad in Normandy would die, Lt Aspinwall, Grethel and Meadows. Bates would not survive the crash of his glider. O’Gui, Primas and Gilstrap would lose their legs after stepping on Shu-mines…

Robert Bowen C/401st GIR - Wounded at Carentan

Louis Simpson, A Pulitzer Prize in Carentan



Louis Simpson was wounded in the Carentan Canal a Flot assault. He along was a runner for Captain Evans. Louis’ father was a black man from Jamaica and a British citizen. Louis was also a British citizen. His mother was from Russia and an actress. Louis was a brilliant writer and later earned a Pulitzer prize. He wrote a number of service related poems. “Soldier’s Heart” gives a glimpse into PTSD from combat. Louis also wrote “Carentan O Carentan » a poem vividly describing the assault on Carentan from the Bassin à flot. Don Rich almost accidentally killed Louis in the Battle of Opheusden during the worst of the fighting and the enemy was at and into G Co’s line.




Carentan O Carentan

Louis Simpson, 1923 – 2012

Trees in the old days used to stand

And shape a shady lane

Where lovers wandered hand in hand

Who came from Carentan.

This was the shining green canal

Where we came two by two

Walking at combat-interval.

Such trees we never knew.

The day was early June, the ground

Was soft and bright with dew.

Far away the guns did sound,

But here the sky was blue.

The sky was blue, but there a smoke

Hung still above the sea

Where the ships together spoke

To towns we could not see.
Could you have seen us through a glass

You would have said a walk

Of farmers out to turn the grass,

Each with his own hay-fork.

The watchers in their leopard suits

Waited till it was time,

And aimed between the belt and boot

And let the barrel climb.

I must lie down at once, there is

A hammer at my knee.

And call it death or cowardice,

Don’t count again on me.

Everything’s all right, Mother,

Everyone gets the same

At one time or another.

It’s all in the game.
I never strolled, nor ever shall,

Down such a leafy lane.

I never drank in a canal,

Nor ever shall again.
There is a whistling in the leaves

And it is not the wind,

The twigs are falling from the knives

That cut men to the ground.

Tell me, Master-Sergeant,

The way to turn and shoot.

But the Sergeant’s silent

That taught me how to do it.

O Captain, show us quickly

Our place upon the map.

But the Captain’s sickly

And taking a long nap.

Lieutenant, what’s my duty,

My place in the platoon?

He too’s a sleeping beauty,

Charmed by that strange tune.

Carentan O Carentan

Before we met with you

We never yet had lost a man

Or known what death could do.

Louis Simpson