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William Knapp - B Co.

Bill hit the ground in France on June 6th, 1944 at about 1.30 a.m.

I landed in the hedgerow country, farmland divided not by fences but by hedgerows bordered by deep ditches and topped with thick foliage. Seldom exceeding 50 yards in length, these fields give the country side a quality of sameness which makes navigation, especially at night, difficult.

Our job was to cut off the Cherbourg peninsula to stop Hitler's Panzer troops from reinforcing the beaches. We were to take the crossroads and the town of STE. MERE EGLISE.

We carried Bazooka's, 37 mm cannons, an Ml-1 rifle, a land mine between our legs.

When you jump, you have a main chute on your back, your knapsack in front with your reserve chute on top of that. In my case as operations Sergeant, I had a map case on one leg and a knife on the other. My rifle was on my back, broken down into 3 parts, receiver, stock, and barrel.

It was a beautiful night, but when I jumped I landed in a field all by myself.

The Germans had what we called a bouncing Betty mine, they would bury them and if you hit one, it would jump up from the ground and explode.

I was scared to death I'd land on one.

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