I was initially a
member of the 505th P.I.R.
0n June 5th
1944 General Ridgeway transferred me to the 508th as their new
Regimental Executive Officer.
After assembly on
the airfields we took off in formation towards Normandy. There was a
quarter moon, and the occasional cloud.
Standing in the
open door of the C.47, I could see thousands of ships below.
We headed southwest
to pass northeast of the islands of Guernsey and Jersey, turning back to
the southeast to cross the Normandy coast between the French towns of
Bricquebec and Saint-Sauveur-Le- Vicomte to jump in the area immediately
southwest of Ste-Mere-Eglise.
We were subject to
heavy anti-aircraft fire as we came into the vicinity of the two islands.
As we crossed the
coast of Normandy, intermittent clouds covered the 1200 foot approach
elevation that we were flying. We were to fly lower to an elevation of 800
feet for the jump. Flying in the intermittent clouds caused the formations
to begin to disperse, some higher or some lower.
The red warning
light came on and I waited for the green jump light as we flew through the
I landed on a stump
in a highly forested area. The stock of my carbine, which was slung across
my chest, hit the stump first. The gun sight raked across my face and
caused a small gash in my left jaw.
I had landed about
200 feet from a small house and barn.
My jump stick of 18
men rolled back along the line of flight and soon joined me.
Gibbons, our S2, spoke passable French, and after talking to the French
family at the house, we calculated that we were about 2 and a half miles
north of Ste-Mere-Eglise and to the northeast of Neuville-Au-Plain.
We [began] rounding
up our men and collected all of our equipment.
It was still dark,
but with an indication that morning light would soon be upon us, we moved
out in column towards Ste-Mere-Eglise where we met Major Kellum with about
40 men who had also dropped north-northwest of Ste-Mere-Eglise and were
heading for their 1st Battalion objective on the Merderet River
at La Fiere.