Neuville-au-Plain, France

  • Location: Northwest France
  • Latitude: 49° 25' 60N
  • Longitude: 1° 19' 60W
  • Founded: ?
  • WW2 Liberation Date: ?

Sometime after June 9th, 1944, the village of Neuville-au-Plain was occupied by both German forces and paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division. The American forces had been split apart by the Germans, and one isolated unit of paratroopers, led by Sergeant Hill, were surprised by the unexpected arrival of a squad of Rangers. Hill was disappointed to learn that the Rangers had not been sent as a relief force, but were instead searching for Private James Ryan, a 101st paratrooper.

Unable to contact his commanding officer (Captain Fred Hamill) via radio or runner, Hill began to lead the Rangers through the streets of the village. Waylaid by a French family trying to convince them to take their children to safety, the group came under the fire of a German sniper. One of the Rangers, Private Adrian Caparzo, was fatally shot. After the sniper was killed and the area secured, Hill and the Rangers continued on.

Stopping later for a short break while a runner went to search for Captain Hamill, Hill inadvertently knocked over an unstable wall which revealed a group of German soldiers. A tense standoff between the two armed parties was ended by the timely arrival of Hamill and another paratrooper, both of whom unloaded their automatic weapons into the unsuspecting Germans.

Although Hamill was able to produce a paratrooper named James Ryan, it turned out that this was not the man that the Rangers were searching for. Questioning another paratrooper, Captain Miller of the Rangers was able to learn of Ryan's rally point. After stopping for a few hours of rest in an abandoned church, the Rangers left Neuville and continued with their search.


Although their are numerous villages in France with the name "Neuville," Neuville-au-Plain, located behind Utah Beach and near the Merderet River, is more than likely the village portrayed in the film. In reality the village was occupied off and on by soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division as early as June 7th. Miller and his men arrive sometime after June 9th but before June 13th. It probably would have been more accurate for Sergeant Hill's unit (as well as Ryan and the Ramelle paratroopers) to have been from the 82nd, and not the 101st.

The set for Neuville was built at an abandoned airfield at Hatfield, England, and was actually part of a larger set that included the fictional village of Ramelle. Careful planning and camera work allowed this dual set, separated by a three-foot deep canal (the Merderet River), to be used for two separate villages. The canal and bridge so prominently seen in the Ramelle scenes are never seen in the Neuville scenes, although portions of the Neuville set can be seen during the Battle of Ramelle. "The Alamo," a small-bombed-out building, was actually located on the Neuville side of the set.


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