Richard (Dick) D. Winters Leadership Monument

The Richard (Dick) D. Winters Leadership Monument was dedicated on 6 June 2012. Before his death in 2011, Major Winters personally approved of the design and location of the twelve-foot bronze statue that presents him in an aggressive ‘attack’ position leading unseen men against an unseen enemy. His approval was predicated upon dedication of the memorial to all of the junior officers which found themselves commanding men in combat during the Second World War. The statue’s plinth includes a quote from Winters: ‘Wars do not make men great, but they do bring out the greatness in good men.’

The monument is located is Ste-Marie-du-Mont, less than one-half mile from Brécourt Manoir, the site of an thirteen-man attack against a vastly superior force, led by Winters, which eliminated a four-gun German position that was firing upon Utah Beach. The monument stands along causeway #2, one of the four selected Allied routes across flooded lowlands from Utah Beach landing sites to an inland ridge. The Brécourt Manoir guns commanded that causeway and could have inflicted numerous casualties on troops moving inland if not destroyed. Nominated for the Medal of Honor, Winters was awarded American’s second highest medal for bravery under fire, the Distinguished service Cross. Three men were awarded the Silver Star and nine men the Bronze Star.

The attack was famously portrayed in the D-Day episode of the television miniseries ‘Band of Brothers’ based upon a Stephen Ambrose book of the same title, which followed the men of Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, from their training in Camp Toccoa, Georgia; through major battles in France, Holland and Belgium; to the capture of Hitler’s retreat in Berchtesgaden, Germany.

After the war, Winters returned to his home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where, as he promised himself he would do after the heat of combat on D-Day, he brought a farm and lived quietly and peacefully for the remainder of his ninety-two years.

6 June 1944

Today is the 68th Anniversary of the massive and critical Operation Neptune, the Invasion of Normandy by American, British, Canadian, and French forces. As I have been preparing Fields of War –  a Second World War battlefield travel guide, my thoughts have been focused on Lower Normandy, its terrain, cities, and highways – and its men.

The similarities with the Norman Invasion by the English Army of King Edward III 598 years earlier are striking. Much like Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt, the French believed that the invasion was aimed at Calais and they had their fleet patrolling off the Pas-de-Calais coast. Edward III landed his army along the coast of the Cotentin Peninsula only 21 km north of Utah beach. Just like German 6th Fallschirmjäger Regiment commander, Major Friedrich von der Heydte, the French commander of Carentan, Robert Bertrand, burned the four bridges north of the city to delay the English advance as reinforcements moved north. Just like US 29th Infantry Division’s commander, Major General Charles Gerhard, Edward III attacked St-Lô from its vulnerable eastern side. And, just as in 1944, the key to Normandy was the capture of Caen.

It was with these events in mind that a new Virtual Battlefield Tour was created which follows Edward III and his army from their landing at St-Vaast-la-Hougue to their seizing of the city of Caen. It can be found on my blog at Invasion of Normandy 12 July 1346

Invasion of Normandy 12 July 1346

On 12 July 1346 an English fleet of one thousand ships appeared on the coast of Normandy. The fleet carried thirty thousand men, horses, fodder, equipment and all of the associated materiel necessary for a full invasion of France. It was personally led by Edward III, king of England; his objective was to land at the harbor of St-Vaast-la-Hougue, capture Caen, and advance his claim to the throne of France. Edward was not seeking a direct confrontation; instead, he was launching a chevauchée, that is, a scorched earth raid into enemy territory where everything of value was to be confiscated and everything not taken was to be destroyed.

01a Invasion of Normandy 12 July 1346
Département: Manche
Region: Basse Normandy
Country: France

A French Battlefields “Virtual Battlefield Tour” [This battlefield is not included in Fields of War.]

Summary: Edward landed his fleet in the undefended harbor at St-Vaast on 12 July 1346. By 18 July the troops and supplies were all unloaded and they began their march through Normandy. The main French army was occupied in the south fighting a second English army. A rearguard commanded by the experienced Robert Bertrand fought a delaying effort trying to gain time for the French king, Philippe VI, to gather his forces. Bertrand burned bridges at Carentan and Pont-Hébert; led the English to St-Lô and away from Caen; and proposed a defense of the massive chateau in Caen. Edward’s Army surrounded and quickly captured the city aided by local commander refusal to follow Bertrand’s advice.

Edward III and Philippe VI continued to play a ‘cat and mouse’ game of maneuver until the climactic encounter north of Crécy-en-Ponthieu. (See Battle of Crécy)

View The Invasion of Normandy in 1346 – A Virtual Battlefield Tour by French Battlefields ( in a larger map

Battle of Formigny

Although the French king, Charles VII, did little to save the life of Jeanne d’Arc, he used the succeeding years to strengthen his position in France. In 1444, Charles and the then king of England, Henry VI signed the Treaty of Tours, which guaranteed a temporary truce between the two countries, the marriage of Margaret of Anjou to Henry, and the transfer of the province of Maine to Charles. As happened to so many of the truces of the Hundred Years War, it did not offer the prospect of a permanent settlement. Margaret was only a distant relation to the French throne and she was impoverished therefore coming without a dowry. When Henry attempted to renege on the transfer of territory, Charles threatened by collecting a large army and by 1448 Henry acquiesced.

03f Battle of Formigny 15 April 1450
Département: Calvados
Region: Basse-Normandie
Country: France

A French Battlefields “Virtual Battlefield Tour” [This battlefield is not included in Fields of War.]

Summary: Hostilities recommenced in June 1449 with the reorganized French Army taking advantage of the weakened English by capturing major cities in Normandy including Rouen, Harfleur, Honfleur and Lisieux. Their next objective was Caen.

The English gathered a small army of about 3,000 men under the command of Sir Thomas Kyriell and left Portsmouth for Cherbourg landing there on 15 March 1450. Kyriell marched south to capture Valognes as the 5,000-man French Army, under Charles I de Bourbon, Comte de Clermont, marched towards Carentan. Kyriell circled around Carentan, refusing to offer battle, and was heading for Bayeux when he entered the village of Formigny on 14 April. The main French force under Charles followed from Carentan towards Bayeux along the later famous National Road 13 as a smaller, but French force of 1,200 fully mounted men under Arthur de Richemont was approaching from St-Lô.

View Battle of Formigny: 15 April 1450 – A Virtual Battlefield Tour by French Battlefields ( in a larger map

Continue reading

Execution of Jeanne d’Arc in Rouen

Jeanne d’Arc’s captors moved her about France. Eventually she was sold by the Duke of Burgundy to the English and they brought her to Rouen, the capital of the English controlled Duchy of Normandy.

Rouen was one of the most prosperous cities in medieval Europe and it is a fascinating city to visit. Although extensively bombed during the Second World War, the city center offers many half-timbered buildings of traditional Normandy design, medieval churches, and the actual location of Jeanne’s execution.

03d Execution of Jeanne d’Arc in Rouen
Département: Seine-Maritime
Region: Haute-Normandie
Country: France

A French Battlefields “Virtual Battlefield Tour” [This battlefield is not included in Fields of War.]

Summary:  Jeanne d’Arc was bought from the Duke of Burgundy by the English ruler of occupied France, John Lancaster, Duke of Bedford. She was brought to Rouen on Christmas Day 1430 and imprisoned in the Château Bouvreuil built by Philip Augustus in 1205. After a lengthy trial, she was found guilty of heresy. On 30 May 1431 she was burned at the stake in the place du Vieux-Marché and her ashes were scattered in the Seine River.

View Execution of Jeanne d’Arc in Rouen- A Virtual Battlefield Tour by French Battlefields ( in a larger map