The assault on Brecourt Manor on D-Day is a legendary tale of bravery and tactical skill. Led by 1st Lieutenant Dick Winters, Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division successfully neutralized four German 105mm artillery pieces that threatened the Utah Beach landings.

This daring mission saved countless lives on the beach. It was recognized as a textbook assault on a fixed position and used at the US military academy at West Point as a case study. Winters was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions.

Most of us have seen Band of Brothers. The second episode, Day of Days, showcased the 101st Airborne’s combat jump into Normandy at the outset of D-Day.

Dick Winters became the acting company commander of Easy Company, 3rd Bn, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division after 1LT Meehan’s C-47 crashed, killing all aboard.

After gathering up his men during the night, Winters led them to their assembly point, the 3rd Bn. HQs at Le Grand Chemin. However, the series shortened the events at Brecourt Manor, which took several hours.

A Crucial Objective

Shortly after arriving at 3rd Bn. HQs, Winters was tasked with destroying the German battery, which was initially believed to be an 88mm gun in a position to fire on the beach. His orders were simple, “There’s fire along that hedgerow there. Take care of it.

Brecourt Manor today
The hedgerow at Brecourt Manor, where the German artillery was located. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

The troops from the 4th Infantry Division coming ashore at Utah Beach had four causeways through which they could move off the beaches. The German guns were in a position to cover Causeway #2. Several scattered units of paratroopers had come across the German position and had been forced to withdraw.

Winters left HQs at 0830 hours to conduct a reconnaissance of the objective. He discovered that the artillery battery was not 88mm guns but 105mm howitzers that were emplaced along a hedgerow that camouflaged them from view. He also discovered a trench system that ran between and connected the gun positions. The system was defended by MG42 machine gun positions. There were about 60 German troops in the objective area. Unbeknownst to Winters, on the other side of the hedgerow at Sainte Marie du Mont were units from the 6th Fallschirmjägerregiment (“6th Parachute Regiment”) and the 709th Infantry Division.