In the first few
days in Normandy, I was with a small group of paratroopers in a farmer’s
field. We fought off several German attacks from that field. We lost many
men, including our first sergeant.
My first patrol
experience was to fetch water for our wounded men.
I was LT Abbott’s
runner until he was killed. Staff Sergeant Henry assumed command of the
platoon and I was his runner. He was killed on July 4th, 1944
whilst adjusting mortar fire.
In mid July 1944,
the 508th returned to Wollaton Park, Nottingham.
We had a few days
leave, and sadly participated in memorial services for our comrades lost
in Normandy, and we applauded our hero’s that were decorated. We welcomed
replacements for our lost comrades and helped them to settle down. Soon we
started preparations for our next mission.
Our stay in
Nottingham was relatively short.
On September 17th,
1944, a bright Sunday afternoon, the 508th parachuted into a
field south of Nijmegen, Holland. Our objective was to capture the
important highway bridge spanning the Waal River. Its capture would
facilitate the movement of British Armoured Forces to and through the city
We spent our first
night in Holland fighting in the city of Nijmegen trying to wrest the
highway bridge from extremely strong, determined German Forces.
Early the next
morning we broke contact with the Germans and hurried back to the fields
where we had dropped. A strong German Infantry Force with Anti-Aircraft
guns had occupied the drop area. These German Forces were waiting to
destroy our Glider-Borne Forces coming from England carrying three
Artillery Battalions and Engineering equipment. The Gliders were expected
to land at noon.
We raced back to
the drop zone area and supported our Battalion as it made a frontal
assault and cleared the Germans from the area. Our assault companies
destroyed 19 Anti-Aircraft guns and captured and killed many Germans.
In true Hollywood
style, the first heavily laden fragile Gliders arrived over landing zone
as the fighting ceased.
All the Gliders