Hémevez in 1944 – Manche – Battle of Normandy

Hémevez (Manche)

The cities of Normandy during the 1944 battles

Liberation: June 17, 1944

Deployed units:

Drapeau américain 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division

Drapeau américain 90th Infantry Division

Drapeau nazi Grenadier-Regiment 1057, 91. Infanterie-Division


On June 6, 1944 at 2:44 pm, the stick of 2nd Lieutenant Robert W. Shutt belonging to the command company and to company A of the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment (82nd Airborne Division) was mistakenly dropped north of the commune Of Hémevez (3 kilometers north-west of the “T” drop zone initially planned), parallel to the railway line between the Pont Blanc and Pont du Palis. 14 of the 15 paratroopers jump off the plane, only Tress B. Balch remains on board: his belly parachute erupted in error during the flight. Corporal Fred G. Wondell is injured on landing due to the excessive speed of his approach to the ground, his pelvis is fractured. After several minutes during which the parachutists are left to their own devices, the uncertainty prevails, and then they gradually come together. Lieutenant Shutt, who is trying to define his exact position, orders the launch of a patrol in the direction of the village of Hémevez along the road towards the south: it is composed of soldiers Ashton J. Landry (who speaks French), Paul D. Moore and Charles L. Wright. Meanwhile, the other paratroopers protect their wounded.

The patrol quickly reached the Castel farm, located on the northern edge of Hémevez. At the moment when they make contact with the inhabitants, a German patrol is heard and the three paratroopers immediately take shelter in a barn and then fall back in favor of the darkness. At dawn, a rapid battle began between nine soldiers in Lieutenant Shutt’s section and a column of German vehicles. The first truck, carrying ammunition, exploded in a stunning crash. The second one stops and disembarks the soldiers who were on board: the skirmish lasts long hours and in the early afternoon, the paratroopers are all made prisoners. They are then escorted to the church of the hamlet of the Virgin of the Petit Moulin and during the journey, two paras escape to escape. The prisoners are allowed to smoke a cigarette and then massacred by the Germans, who have put a heavy machine gun in their battery (the victims are: Pfc Heck Elsworth, Pvt Hitztaler Anthony, Pvt Kling Andrew, Pfc Delmar McElhaney , Pfc Tillman Daniel, Pfc Robert E. Werner and Pvt Robert Watson). Their bodies are buried in a pit dug in a meadow between the hamlet of Val and Hémevez. The American patrol heard the sound of the shots and a few minutes later it was captured by the Germans; However, one hour after their capture, the three paratroopers manage to escape.

Ernest Moucel, a resident of Hémevez, discovers the pit with 8 soldiers: another paratrooper shot down there was thrown by the Germans. With three inhabitants of the region, he buries them in the communal cemetery.

On June 17, 1944, the municipality of Hémevez was freed by the soldiers of the 90th Infantry Division.

On February 6, 1945, Ashton J. Landry was summoned to the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) headquarters in Versailles as part of an investigation by the US military into the sad events of Hémevez.

Hémevez maps:

Image : carte du secteur de Hémevez - Bataille de Normandie en 1944