Merville in Normandy northern France…. 70 years ago the German gun battery positioned there was one of the first places to be attacked by Allied paratroopers in the D-Day landings.
In the run up to Friday’s commemorations the town is playing host to survivors of that historic military operation.
On that fateful June night part of the British 6th Airborne Division was charged with taking out the guns which were trained on the sea in order to stop the Allied forces.
But the mission became a nightmare as the mayor of Merville Olivier Paz explains:
“Half of the paratroopers landed too far east in the marshes that Rommel had purposely flooded. Many of them drowned. Out of 700, only 150 made it to the rendezvous point. There the 150 armed with only machine guns, put their knives between their teeth so to speak and launched an assault on the battery.”
Only 75 British soldiers survived and 22 German soldiers were taken prisoner.
Today a museum offers a dramatic re-enactment of that fateful night of June 5 and the morning after back in 1944.
Reporter Laurence Alexandrowicz went inside where she met 90-year-old American veteran Paul Bordeleau. He, like so many who experienced the horrors of battle, told her he just cannot understand why he survived and the others – his colleagues and friends – all died.
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