“Dead Man’s Corner,”at a road junction south of Saint-Côme-du-Mont, has become one of Normandy’s most famous landmarks. The story of what happened there has become legendary: an American Stuart tank was destroyed at the intersection and remained in place for several days, the dead body of the commander hanging out of the turret. The troops started to refer to the spot as “the corner with the dead man in the tank” and later simply as “Dead Man’s Corner.” As with all legends, the true story is much more complicated. This article is an attempt to separate fact from fiction and explore what can be proven and what remains a mystery to this day.
The name “Dead Man’s Corner” is old. It was already mentioned in the combat interviews of S.L.A. Marshall, conducted in the summer of 1944. The general public likely first learned the name through one or two books: either S.L.A. Marshall’s own Night Drop (1962) or the highly acclaimed account of A/506th PIR trooper Donald R. Burgett’s Currahee, A Screaming Eagle in Normandy (1967).
Dead Man’s Corner (DMC) lies at the fork of the D-974 and D-913 roads, a few hundred yards south of the center of Saint-Côme-du-Mont. In 1944, the intersection was strategically important. The D-974 was the most direct route to Carentan and part of the N-13, the highway between Paris and Cherbourg, while the D-913 was significant since it was the southernmost road connecting Utah Beach (via Sainte-Marie-du-Mont) to the highway. The terrain itself was also important, as the intersection lies on the ridge overlooking the German-flooded fields north of Carentan.