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THE STORY BEHIND OPERATION ALBANY AND THE "FILTHY THIRTEEN"

Posted by Rodolphe Passera on Dec 13, 2018 8:48:36 PM

Brévands and the "Filthy Thirteen"

 Brévands is a small picturesque village situated in the Veys Bay, in Normandy close to the town of Carentan. The village is rich in old stone buildings and natural heritage.

 

Veys Bay

The "Veys" bay is located at the limit of the Cotentin and the Bessin. It is a large estuary where flow four rivers: the Douve & the Taute, near Carentan, the Vire & the Aure at Isigny-sur-Mer,  flooded by the enemy before D-day!

 

Manoir de Vermont - Brévands

Manoir de Vermont - Brévands

 

An American soldier from Pittsburg engraved his name on the manor’s stone

  

Saint-Martin Church

The Saint-Martin church and its underground crypt Saint-Loup are classified as historical monument since 2002.

The church was built around the middle of the twelfth century and a lot of rework was done at the end of the nineteenth century.

One of the main architectural features of the church is the presence of a crypt.

 

Saint-Martin Church

Inside the church, there is a stained glass window made in memory of the fallen on the 6th of June 1944.

 

commonwealth war grave

In the cemetery there is a commonwealth war grave 

 

Brévands cemetery

Royal Air Force pilot, Sergeant Dean is buried in Brévands cemetery. He was with the 501st “County of Gloucester” squadron.

On Monday the 17th of November 1941 he left England at 9h40 for a usual reconnaissance flight over Normandy. His Spitfire was shot down by the German anti aircraft artillery. He was just nineteen years old.

 

The Carentan Canal

The Carentan Canal

 

On June 6th 1944, the village was an important objective for the paratroopers of the 506th PIR 101st Airborne Division. Their objective was to take two bridges crossing the Carentan canal to isolate the Utah Beach bridgehead. 

Between the night of June 5 to June 6, 1944, as part of Operation Albany (part of the American Airborne landing in Normandy), the paratroopers of the Screaming Eagles, 101st Airborne Division, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Battalion, had to join the Drop Zone D on the outskirts of the village of Angoville-au- Plain.

They were supported by the 326th Airborne Engineer Battalion, C Company and the demolition section nicknamed “Filthy 13”. 

The “Filthy 13” got their nickname while training in England. During this period they washed and shaved only once a week, same for their uniforms that were never washed! The group was commanded by Sergeant Jake McNiece, a half Indian half-breed native of Oklahoma.

On June 5th before leaving England, the Sergeant shaved his head like the Iroquois and wore war-paint on his face; his men followed him and did the same.

The paratroopers had to take two small bridges south of their dropping zone on the Carentan Canal. Taking quickly the two bridges would have an impact on the landing area of Utah Beach.

The droppings from 45 American Douglas C-47 Dakota planes were not accurate for the 575 paratroopers whose objective was the control of the north of Carentan.

Lieutenant-Colonel "Bull" Wolverton, commanding officer of the 3rd Battalion was killed when he landed near the village of Saint-Côme-du-Mont.

Several month ago, the German had built two small wooden bridges across the "Douve" River in order to be able to send reinforcement in case of an allied landing on the coastline.

When Dday started, Captain Charles Shettle, Battalion Operations Officer, with thirty two men made it to the bridges of the "Le Port" hamlet and shortly after, twenty other paratroopers joined them.

Some men left, in recognition of the other side but were met by heavy enemy fire.

In front of them, were the German paratroopers of the 6th Fallschirmjäger-Regiment commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Von der Heydte.

The Americans paratrooper took the decision to stay on the other side of the river, to booby-trap the infrastructure and to blow them up in case of irremediable advance of the enemy. 

The paratroopers resisted until the morning of June 7th.

During that time, the commander of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Colonel Sink, had no news of this sector. Believing that his men had failed to seize the two bridges, he decided to avoid a potential German incursion into the landing zone.

P47 fighter-bombers planes flew over Brévands and destroyed the two bridges, prohibiting any German advance on these routes. 

In smaller numbers, the paratroopers of the 3rd Battalion pushed back all the German counter attacks before being relieved on the evening of June 8th by the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment.

The capture of the bridges took the lives of 7 paratroopers and 21 were wounded.

During these three days, Captain Shettle's 150 paratroopers or so held their line and on June 10 at dawn Brévands was finally liberated.

 

Four men received the Distinguished Service Cross

Lieutenant Charles Santarieso I company

Sergeant Georges Montilio H company

Private First Class Donald Zahn H Company

Private First Class Andrew Sosnak Medical Detachment

Filthy 13 Monument

This monument was inaugurated in 2008 in memory of the Filthy 13 in Brévands.

 

Filthy 13 Monument

 

 

The statue represent one of these men with the Iroquois hairstyle 

 

For the 69th anniversary of the D-Day, Jack Womer was decorated with the French Legion of Honor in Carentan.

Jack Womer passed away, late December 2013 in the United States. In accordance with his last wishes, he was cremated.

His daughter Ellen obtained the permission from the French Consulate in Washington to bring her ashes to the French soil so that he could rest in Normandy. It was in Brévands, the urn containing his ashes was sealed Sunday 8th 2014 for the 70th anniversary.

 The Filthy 13 1942 -1944 

Jack Agnew, George Baran, Roland R. Baribeau, Robert S.Cone, Maw Darnell, Charles Gann, James T. Green, John Hale, James E. Leach, Louis Lipp, Thomas Lonergan, Mike Marquez, Charles Mellen, Jake McNiece, Frank M. Mihlan, Joseph Oleskiewicz, Francky Palys, Herb Pierce, Chuck Plauda, George Radeka, Andrew Rasmussen, Brincely Stroup, Clarence Ware, Martin Majewski, Edmund Lodjko, Charles Lee.

 

 Helmet liner from the 326th “E” for Engineer, 101st Airborne Division

 

 

Topics: World War 2

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