The Lost Paratroopers of Normandy
A Story of Resistance, Courage, and Solidarity in a French Village
Author(s): Stephen G. Rabe
Publication Date: 10/11/22
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The fateful days and weeks surrounding 6 June 1944 have been extensively documented in histories of the Second World War, but less attention has been paid to the tremendous impact of these events on the populations nearby. The Lost Paratroopers of Normandy tells the inspiring yet heartbreaking story of ordinary people who did extraordinary things in defense of liberty and freedom. On D-Day, when transport planes dropped paratroopers from the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions hopelessly off-target into marshy waters in northwestern France, the 900 villagers of Graignes welcomed them with open arms. These villagers – predominantly women – provided food, gathered intelligence, and navigated the floods to retrieve the paratroopers' equipment at great risk to themselves. When the attack by German forces on 11 June forced the overwhelmed paratroopers to withdraw, many made it to safety thanks to the help and resistance of the villagers. In this moving book, historian Stephen G. Rabe, son of one of the paratroopers, meticulously documents the forgotten lives of those who participated in this integral part of D-Day history.
Introduction; 1. Paratrooper; 2. Overseas; 3. Occupied France; 4. Liberators and friends; 5. Days of friendship, hope, and waiting; 6. The longest day in Graignes; 7. Escape, exile, and annihilation; 8. Graignes in historical memory; Afterword.
'Lost no longer, the American paratroopers who helped to liberate Normandy find a sympathetic chronicler in Stephen G. Rabe. This is micro-history at its most intimate. In granular detail, Rabe recounts the story of how American troops and French villagers rescued Graignes from German occupation. Drawing on deep research and even deeper feeling, the author pays tribute to his veteran father, to a generation, and to enduring ties between two nations bound together by collective sacrifices and shared valor.' Susan Carruthers, author of Dear John: Love and Loyalty in Wartime America
'Compelling and suspenseful, The Lost Paratroopers of Normandy highlights the bravery and resourcefulness of American soldiers and the people of Graignes while further demolishing the myth of a blameless Waffen SS.' Steven P. Remy, author of The Malmedy Massacre: The War Crimes Trial Controversy
'Stephen G. Rabe's exhaustively researched work breaks the silence surrounding the heroic roles played by French men and women to assure the success of the American landings. Engagingly written, the story emphasizes the courage of both soldier and civilian in the face of SS murder and atrocity. A must-read for anyone who wishes to explore another view of the D-Day landings. Highly recommended.' Mary Louise Roberts, author of D-Day Through French Eyes: Memoirs of Normandy 1944
'Stephen G. Rabe provides a fascinating and multi-layered military, diplomatic, and social history of US World War II paratroopers, French villagers, and the protection they gave each other in June 1944. In the process, he provides a fitting tribute to his father, who was one of those paratroopers.' Mark A. Stoler, author of Allies in War: Britain and America against the Axis Powers, 1940–1945
'… this history combines heroism and tragedy in equal measure. WWII buffs will be engrossed.' Publishers Weekly