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Jack W. Schlegel

 I was the last man to jump from my stick over Normandy on the night of 5/6 June 1944.

I landed in an open field among some cows.  I shed my parachute and quickly found two or three other men from the 508.

I asked Chick Miller to help me read a map. We used a flashlight under a raincoat to study the map, but we could not get our bearings.

We saw a farmhouse with a faint light inside. We decided to seek information from the people at the farm.

I banged on the door until a frightened elderly couple timidly opened the door just enough to peep at the paratroopers outside.

"JE SUIS AMERICAIN!" I [said] in French, which was effective enough to calm the fears of the startled French people. We were invited inside.

Using sign language, we learned that we were near the town of Picauville and our host were M. and Mmm Le Compte. The Le Compte's served us bread and wine as we sat around the dining table planning our route.

As a parting gesture I gave my paratroop wings to Madam Le Compte as a remembrance of our stay. We left the farm and continued on our journey and to find other members of our Company and Battalion.

When daylight came, we came upon a bullet-riddled German staff car rammed up against a stone wall and two dead Germans in the road.

One of the dead was General Wilhelm Falley, Commanding officer of the 91st Division, who had been killed earlier by Lt. Malcolm Brannen.

In examining the car, I found a package which contained a large Swastika flag, the flag which flew over General Falley's HQ.

Approaching footsteps were heard so we hid behind a stone wall and waited. The footsteps were those of other lost American paratroopers, so we joined up with these men.

At this time the group was led by Lt. Bodak, who had calculated that we had dropped in the midst of the German 91st Division.

Later in the day, we ran into heavy German resistance. We heard a German shouting to us.


Lt. Bodak gave the order to surrender, but a few of us slipped through a hedgerow and fled towards a barn.

As we entered the barn, three German Soldiers were trying to get out of the same door. We grabbed the German Soldiers and pulled them back inside. We had them as prisoners.

While the prisoners were being guarded, I slipped away alone to another part of the barn.

I pulled up a loose floorboard and stuffed my package which contained General Falley's command post flag, replaced the floorboard and covered it with straw.

With our German prisoners as insurance, we left the barn safely. After travelling a few hundred yards, we came face to face with a German Tank, which fired its big gun at us. A shell exploded just behind our group, wounding many.

One of the prisoners although bleeding from his wounds jumped up and waved cease-fire gestures to the tank commander. The insurance paid off, the tank commander decided to take prisoners rather than kill us.

After being taken prisoner, we walked several miles to a chateau where there were about 250 prisoners, American, British and Canadian.

The next day we were loaded onto 20 unmarked German trucks with canvas covers. The trucks moved out on a main highway towards St Lo.

About noon Allied planes strafed the convoy killing 30-40 men, many from the 508.

I decided to make my first escape attempt, which was the first of three unsuccessful attempts. On my fourth escape attempt I was aided by Dr E. Enzinger, a German doctor in the P.O.W. hospital in Rennes.

My family had moved from Germany to America when I was 7 years old, so I could speak German. I was selected to interpret for the German Doctor.

Dr Enzinger told me that General Patton’s tanks were near.

I had been given a pass by the doctor to run errands to the hospital annex. On my next trip to the annex, I waited until dark and slipped out of the compound. Two days later I made contact with American troops under the command of General Patton.

General Patton had a drink of Johnny Walker Whiskey with me, and then sent me on my way towards Utah Beach in a jeep driven by Major F. J. Cibulka (see below image for an affidavit signed by the Majoe).

On my way to Utah Beach, I asked the Major to stop by the barn where I had hidden General Falley's flag. I found my prized souvenir where I had left it.

In 1969 I visited Normandy and donated the flag to the Ste Mere Eglise Airborne Museum.

During the trip, Dr Pierre Honriet who was host to me whilst in Normandy helped me find the Le Compte farm where I had landed on D-Day. We found the farm and Madam Le Compte introduced us to her invalid mother.

With all of us around her bed, she pointed to her bedroom dresser. Her daughter opened the drawer and took out a little box.

Inside were my jump wings with my initials J.W.S. scratched on the back.

Then I knew that this was the place I had landed on June 6th, 1944.

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