During the first three days of the Normandy invasion, the 82nd Airborne Division struggled to capture and hold crucial crossing points over the Merderet River. The fighting was most brutal at the causeway at La Fiere, just east of Ste. Mere-Eglise. Pressured by the weight of German infantry, artillery and armor, the paratroopers held their ground, subsequently pushing the enemy westward in what has been called "the bloodiest small-unit struggle in the experience of American arms."
The American soldiers had two heavily defended bridges to overtake and capture. They had 800 yards of hell to cross. Their only passageway: a narrow, elevated road surrounded by floodwater. As the hours and days passed, the water turned to blood in a battle without retreat. Victory would bore a hole into Nazi-occupied France.