I landed in
Normandy on 6th June 1944.
When I hit the
ground, I got out of my chute while under machine gun fire and crawled
over to another trooper and helped him to get out of his chute.
At daybreak, as we
started to move we discovered that we were in the middle of a deployed
German Artillery unit.
As we quietly moved
out of the area, we discovered that a German patrol was following closely
behind us. We deployed behind an hedgerow and organised a hasty defensive
position. The Germans also deployed and a vigorous fire fight ensued.
As we were
outnumbered, the officer leading our group told me, as the only
non-commissioned officer, "go around the end of the hedgerow and fire on
the Germans from the flank."
I picked one man
and we worked our way around the hedgerow to a position where we could
shoot at the Germans.
A big mistake.
In the initial
exchange of fire, my partner (a red-head named Mansfield.) was killed and
I was pinned down by rifle and machine gun fire. As soon as I could, I
worked my way free and returned to where I had left our group only to
discover that they had pulled out and left me.
I scurried out of
the area and spent the night in a hedgerow.
daylight, I discovered a German unit was deploying on the other side of my
Again, I quickly
vacated that unwelcome area.
A short time later,
I wandered into a large field that looked like it had been a large impact
area for large artillery shells.
I found an area
where the shells had detonated among a group of paratroopers. Among the
dead I found Harry Higgins' body.
It was stripped of
his jump jacket and still had a white mark where he had his wristwatch.
NOTE: Higgins is
listed as KIA on 11 July 44 which may have been the date that the Grave
Registration unit recovered his body. This eyewitness account
indicates that he died more than a month earlier.