Band of Brothers
The true story of the men of Easy Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne
Director: Mikael Salomon
The third episode of the series is represented through the eyes of soldier Albert Blithe, who is like many soldiers at that time, he finds it difficult to take part in the fighting without experiencing great fear.
The 506th Paratroop Infantry Regiment of the 101st American Airborne Division undertook a series of maneuvers during the night of June 11th to 12th around Carentan and attacked the town on the 12th morning on the east side by a road that forms a T with The one which takes the direction of Périers (towards the south) where the houses sheltered the Germans. The city of Carentan had to be taken because it was the main crossroads between the Cotentin and the Calvados and the Allied tanks had to pass through the city before attacking Cherbourg, one of the main objectives of the Battle of Normandy because of its port in Deep water that can accommodate boats of high tonnage and thus unloading the material faster and more important. Some of the houses of Carentan still bear the traces of the battle.
When the Germans opened fire on the American soldiers, a very violent street fight began. The German and American snipers took heart and the fight was always close to hand-to-hand. The houses are home to French civilians who, unfortunately, have not all escaped death as a result of the bombing and the fighting. Shortly after the start of the Easy attack, when the Americans began to control part of the area, German artillerymen bombarded the area with their artillery cannons. Ed Tipper, who is seriously wounded by a shell fired by a German gun, is just one example. The nurses who examined Tipper’s wounds did not know at first if he would get away with it.
When a large part of the area is under US control, Lieutenant Richard Dick Winters is hit at the ankle by a German sniper bullet in a street in Carentan. During his visit to the infirmary, Winters discovers the Private Blithe who had become blind during the fight. Winters discusses with him about this nervous blindness and in the minutes that follow, Blithe regains his sight again. Winters was at that time the leader of the Easy Company, because First Lieutenant Thomas Meehan had not given a sign of life since the invasion began. The Allied military authorities discovered only a few days later the death of Meehan and his section in the crash of their plane, touched by the Flak on June 6 in the early hours of D-Day.
After taking Carentan, the Easy orders are: “attack east, towards a low ground, hill number 30, sector of the 501st PIR”. In fact, the Easy of the 506th went from the western part of Carentan towards the South, near the village of Douville whose grounds around will be after the fighting nicknamed “Bloody Gulch”.
It is in Douville that the Easy passes the night of 12 to 13 June and faces a major German resistance composed of the 17th SS Panzer Grenadier Division and elements of the 6th German Paratrooper Regiment. Indeed, the Americans had to protect Carentan from any enemy incursion and had been ordered to establish a line of defense south of Carentan. Before they could settle down, the US soldiers fired a heavy fire from the German soldiers cited above and folded behind a large hedge. In the early morning, shortly after five hours, the Germans launched a strong counter-attack supported tanks and various armored vehicles. Companies D and F retreated shortly after the start of the battle, leaving the flanks of Richard D. Winters and his company exposed to the enemy. A few men from companies D and F have nevertheless joined the front. Company F retreated because it had only an insufficient armament in front of the enemy.
It was only around 2:00 pm that the American tank reinforcements arrived. It was the 2nd Armored Infantry Regiment followed by the 3rd Battalion of the 41st Armored Infantry Regiment. Some American soldiers were so happy to see Sherman tank reinforcements arrive that they cried, others came to kiss the tanks in thanksgiving. The Germans quickly broke the line of contact and left their sites to attack the Shermans, but when the latter accelerated to German positions, the SS soldiers finally abandoned Hill 30.
Soldier Blithe was struck a few days later when he took the lead in a reconnaissance platoon to “clean up” a secluded Norman house. He was seriously wounded by a German sniper, a “sniper”. In the film Band of Brothers, it is stated that Albert Blithe died in 1948 as a result of this wound received in Normandy. But in truth he died on 11 December 1967 in a hospital in Germany, after a discomfort during a commemoration of the Battle of the Ardennes in Bastogne, Belgium. His brothers in arms had not heard from him since his wound in Normandy, and they simply thought that he had died 3 years after the end of the war, in Pennsylvania, in the United States.
The Easy soldiers were removed from the front on June 29 and placed in Sainte-Marie-du-Mont for a well deserved rest. The Easy had lost 65 men during the engagement. But it was only of short duration and Sergeant Lipton during his speech at the end of the film will announce to the men of the E-Company the end of their permission and the return to combat.