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11
Dead Man's Corner Museum & Its FlaK 37

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The HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers" made Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne world famous. So it's no wonder that everywhere Easy Company went during World War 2 that the locals have been trying to cash-in on the fame of that almost mythical group of soldiers. The heroes of Easy would be the first to admit they were just part of a group effort (OK, maybe the best of the group), yet that hasn't stopped the world from wanting to know more about their exploits.

Or from those locales where they fought from opening up a museum - or two - or three.

In May 2013, my son Peter graduated from Suffolk University in Boston, and my graduation gift to him was a trip to Normandy, Verdun, Bastogne, Cologne and Berlin. He's a hardcore "Band of Brothers" fan, so we spent much of our stay in the Normandy region running down the places where the real "Band of Brothers" fought.

I mean EVERY place we could find:

Brecourt Manor

St. Mere Eglise, where Lt. Richard Winters dropped into France

Sainte-Marie-du-Mont

Vierville

Carentan

One of the lesser-known places (not in the Stephen Ambrose book) is literally a wide spot in the road outside the small town of Carentan that has come to be known as "Dead Man's Corner."

It's located at the intersection of the Saint-Côme-du-Mont/Carentan road that leads from Utah Beach through Sainte-Marie-du-Mont and into Carentan. That small city sits astride the Cherbourg-Paris rail line, and was in the middle of the only route from Omaha and Utah Beaches inland. So it was vital to both sides that they have possession of Carentan. Overall German commander Erwin Rommel had charged the 6th Regiment of Fallschirmjäger (paratroops) with holding Carentan, and the house at the intersection was both the HQ of the 6th Regiment and its field aid station. The locale supposedly got its very colorful name because of a knocked-out Stuart tank beside the road with its dead commander hanging out one of the hatches.

The house survived the war, and has been turned into a museum with a superb collection of arms, equipment and uniforms from both sides. A highlight for BoB fans is a uniform donated by then-Lieutenant (later Major) Dick Winters, the then-commander of Easy Company.

But commerce will not be denied: the downstairs is devoted to a huge war surplus outlet chockablock with replicas and originals, with everything from the "crickets" used by US Airborne troops as a signal during their night jump into Occupied France all the way to MG42s and M-1s.

Outside is a FlaK 37 88mm antiaircraft gun sitting in the back yard. You can tell it's the later 37 model because the controls use dials and not idiot lights. While showing some signs of age and the elements, it's still worth some time spent with Germany's most-feared artillery piece.

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About the Author

About Bill Cross (bill_c)
FROM: NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES

Self-proclaimed rivet counter who gleefully builds tanks, planes and has three subs in the stash.


Comments

Bill,you state that Dead Mans Corner got its name from a knocked out German tank,actually it was a knocked out American M5A1 Stuart.A quick Google search for dead mans corner Normandy will turn up several sites to verify this.A couple even have pictures of the tank.
JUN 20, 2013 - 09:41 PM
Javier: What makes you say that this example is a Trubia Ft-44? Given that it's in Carentan France, wouldn't it more likely be an actual German-made gun? What are the differences between a Trubia Ft-44 and a 8.8cm Flak 37?
JUN 20, 2013 - 10:41 PM
Ericadeane, look at the barrel, is different. But of interest is the big number stamped in the breech block and inscriptions "fuego" and "alto el fuego". Same origin has the Bayeux museum flak, the one at Arromanches, and others I don't remember. Constated by myself.
JUN 22, 2013 - 03:00 PM
Spanish Trubias are today available in some junkyards for about 5000€....
JUN 22, 2013 - 03:01 PM
Javier, the barrels used on FlaK 18s, 36s and 37s varied quite extensively. The Germans developed a two-piece barrel to allow for swapping out the inner sleeves when they became worn-out, which was easier than replacing the entire tube. But my understanding is there is no conformity to barrel type once the war was winding down. It's entirely possible this is a gun made under license in Spain, but the similarities to the FlaK 37 seem close enough for modeling purposes. The other possibility is that this is a composite gun from various parts put together after the war. I found some evidence of that sort of thing as museums look for vehicles and artifacts. Jeepman, thanks for the update on where the place got its name. These sorts of things always come down to who remembers what. Nathan, Carentan isn't much to see today (just another rebuilt French one-horse town, but Vierville, Ste-Marie-du-Mont and Brecourt Manor are all still much as they were in 1944. St. Mere Eglise is also quite close to the original, which is of course surprising after nearly 70 years. My strong recommendation is to hire a guide. Ours was Christoph Rault, and he was superb, though quite expensive. Still, it was worth every Euro.
JUN 24, 2013 - 10:51 AM
Bill, I have to agree with JEEPMAN it was an M5A1 at dead mans corner. Is this an oversight on yours, because all the research depicts a US M5A1 (not that I have been there, but am surprised this is posted as a German AFV)??????????????
JUN 24, 2013 - 05:16 PM
No, Jason, I checked into the origin, but did not make an exhaustive search of it. I have removed the word "German" which should allow readers to draw their own conclusions.
JUN 24, 2013 - 05:36 PM
No worries Bill, thanks for confirming.
JUN 25, 2013 - 12:15 AM
Hi Bill, Really great you draw attention to this great museum. I vivisted it 2 years ago, spoke to some of the staff and was surprised that this place is overlooked by (too..) many D-Day Beaches Tour goers. It's one of the very few places in Normandy where you can find the real Band of Brothers properly represented. If there will be a next time you and your son go on a Band of Brothers Tour Part Two, do not forget to come to the Netherlands to see the many places the Band of Brothers have left their footsteps; on many places remembered with a memorial. I have found the actual location where the 'Crossroads' fight took place, very close to the Rhine river near the small village of Heteren. Here is a pic attached of the small but moving memorial at the foot of the Crossroads river dike.(...upload didn't work as I hoped, sorry ) And about 3kms to the East is another one dedicated to them, this one for their part in the big rescue river crossing, getting the remains of the British 1st Airborne to the Allied side of the Rhine. Eindhoven and Nunen are other places connected with B. of B.
JUL 04, 2013 - 04:46 PM
Thanks, Jerry, I had thought about doing the Market-Garden portion of the BoB for the trip, but it became too unwieldy at that point. It will give my son a chance to revisit Europe someday on his own. Please see if you can upload the photo to the "Photos" section of the site and create a link.
JUL 08, 2013 - 09:37 AM
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