The Brecourt Manor Assault, during the U.S. parachute assault of the Normandy Invasion of World War II, is often cited as a classic example of small-unit tactics and leadership in overcoming a larger enemy force.
Command of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division had temporarily fallen to Executive Officer, 1st Lt. Richard Winters. After linking up with his parent unit at the hamlet of Le Grand Chemin on the morning of 6 June 1944, Winters was ordered up front away from his company. With minimal instructions of "There's fire along that hedgerow there. Take care of it," and no briefing, Winters found himself given the task of destroying a German artillery battery. The battery had initially been reported to be 10.5 cm leFH 18s firing onto causeway exit #2 leading off Utah Beach and disrupting landing forces of the U.S. 4th Infantry Division advancing inland on this route. Several other units had stumbled onto the German position earlier in the morning and had been repulsed.
Winters undertook a reconnaissance at about 0830, after which he collected a team of 12 men from his own and other companies. Beyond knowledge of the general location of the gun emplacements south of Le Grand Chemin and without information of the other side of the hedgerow, Winters' team attacked Brécourt Manor, located three miles southwest of Utah Beach and north of the village of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont. There he discovered No. 6 Battery of the 90th Artillery Regiment, consisting of four 105 mm howitzers connected by trenches and defended by a company of soldiers.
Winters held that the unit was part of the 6th Fallschirmjägerregiment ("6th Parachute Regiment") with emplaced MG42 machine guns. The 1st battalion of the 6th had been ordered to Sainte Marie-du-Mont from Carentan during the afternoon but arrived after dark. The 1st Company 919th Grenadier Regiment (709th Infantry Division) was posted at Sainte Marie-du-Mont and was responsible for the area. Elements of 1058th Grenadier Regiment (91st Luftlandedivision) were defending throughout the vicinity, and the artillery was part of this division also. The 795th Georgian Battalion, attached to the 709th ID, was to the northwest at Turqueville but is less likely to have been present because of terrain difficulties. Whichever unit defended the battery, the U.S. paratroopers were opposed by approximately sixty German soldiers.
The crew originally assigned to the four 105mm guns had apparently deserted during the night of the airborne landings. Oberstleutnant Friedrich von der Heydte of the German 6th Parachute Regiment, upon discovering they had been abandoned while observing the landings at Utah Beach, traveled to Carentan where he ordered his 1st Battalion to occupy and hold Sainte-Marie-du-Mont and Brécourt, and find men to work on the artillery battery.