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The Holdy Battery – The Twin Of Brecourt Manor

The Normandy D-day invasion called for a wide front of allied soldiers and equipment to land on five beaches. The western most point of the five beaches was called Utah Beach. The US VII Corps were tasked with securing the beachhead in this section of the Normandy coastline.

Thanks to the TV series, “The Band Of Brothers”, Utah Beach and other areas close by have become famous the world over. In the series, a small team of troops from the 101st Airborne neutralized a German Battery position known as Brecourt Manor. This location is approximately 3 kilometers from Sainte Marie Du Mont.

Many tourists visit Normandy and due to the TV series, head straight to Brecourt Manor. Unbeknown to the majority of these tourists, there was actually another battery in close proximity to Sainte Marie Du Mont but as it was not in the TV series, hardly anyone is aware of it.

Situated slightly closer to Sainte Marie Du Mont, the German battery was considered to be the twin of Brecourt Manor and its role was the same; to fire on enemy troops landing on the beaches of the Utah Sector.

At around midday on June 6th 1944, Richard Winters and a small force attacked and neutralized the battery at Brecourt Manor. The battle to secure the Holdy battery was just about over at the that time. However, unlike Brecourt, Holdy would require significantly more American troops to over turn the German resistance.

At the initial stages of the Battle of Holdy, approximately 70 American Airborne Troops were involved. Due to the stiff resistance from the Germans, another 70 American paratroopers were sent to reinforce the American effort. It is worth noting that most of the Germans stationed at the Holdy battery, were in-fact Georgian. Due to the lack of man power, Hitler had no alternative than to resort to utilising other nationalities within the Wehrmacht.

Under the command of Captain Lloyd Patch, the German battery finally fell in to American hands at around midday. As one of the original objectives for the 101st Airborne was to take Sainte Marie Du Mont, once the battery was secured, Patch and most of his men made off to the village.

The battery, now secure, was placed in the hands of Knutt Raudstein. He was ordered by Patch to hold the position until further notice.

In the meantime, Patch, now halfway between Holdy and Sainte Marie Du Mont, came under very precise mortar fire. He assumed that the fire could only be directed from one place and that was the bell tower of the imposing church in the village. He then made the decision to return to the battery to utilise the German guns to try and take out the observers in the church.

On returning to Holdy, Patch was alarmed to see that Raudstein had started to destroy the guns. Raudstein was concerned that if there was a German counter attack, he would not be able to hold the position. Luckily for Captain Patch, there was one gun still operational. Patch, after receiving permission from his commanding officer, fired on the church with two rounds. The first round missed but the second made a direct hit. The observers in the bell tower were not killed but suffered severe shell shock. Unbeknown to Patch, the observers in the bell tower were in-fact not German, but American!

Sainte Marie Du Mont tends to get overlooked in favour of Sainte Mere Eglise. There are many more fascinating stories that took place in Sainte Marie Du Mont and if you are planning to visit Normandy, we recommend that you stop in this small village to savor the wonderful history.

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