All the Co-pilot
wanted now was to cross that beach and get out over the water. One
problem suddenly appeared - a large dark dome - a pill box on the
coast and Grimes kicked rudder and flew around it. "Got it made"
thought the Co-pilot - when a sudden bright flash filled the
Capt. Charles S.
Cartwright had a problem too - when the troops from the lead element
jumped, he gave the green light and nothing happened. Checked his
instruments, 700 feet indicated, 105 airspeed, but before he could
ask what the problem was, word was relayed from Crew Chief S/Sgt.
Raymond Farris to Navigator Edward Osborne that the Jump Master said
the plane was too low. With no time to argue the point that he was
at the same altitude as the rest of the formation, Charlie
Cartwright, leading the right element of the first nine over DZ "N",
checked for his wingmen and started a right turn to place himself
once more over the DZ. With other aircraft approaching the drop
zone, Charlie turned on his navigation lights, the better to be seen
by the other pilots. This also attracted the gunners on the ground
and they concentrated on this lone bird that had left the flock.
Ground fire was finding the range as Charlie, once again over the DZ
and a hundred feet higher, gave the green light a second time with
the same results_- then discovered the Captain Jump Master at the
cockpit wanting to discuss the problem. Charlie ended the discussion
with "Get the hell out, everyone except your stick has jumped. I'll
make one more pass". The statement and the turn for the third run
was interrupted by direct hits from explosive shells that opened up
a hole the size of a bushel basket next to Sgt. Farris and wounding
a paratrooper. Ed Osborne expressed his opinion to the Jump
Master that the plane was going down and the Jump Master made the
decision "high or low - it's time to leave" and led all but the
wounded paratrooper out the door.
concentrated fire, Charlie found himself just south of the DZ and
heading west where he had come from when both engines quit and
caught fire. Making a one-eighty he discovered the coast was too far
away and made another ninety to the right and looked for a field as
the crew members took crash positions - Ed Osborne against the
bulkhead behind the pilot compartment and Ray Farris and Radio
Operator Frank DeLuca in the main cabin against the front bulkhead.
Two crew members, who
by chance had little envolvement [sic] due to their assigned
positions were flight Officer Alma Magleby, Co-pilot - all he
could do was grip the seat and wait in the event Charlie needed
help. The other, Radio Operator Frank DeLuca, oldest member of
the crew, five years more than the pilot and ten years older than
the crew chief, was in tie best spot to see and hear all that
happened. Yet he could do nothing to change the events that were
threatening his life.
Wheels up, Charlie
Cartwright was about to test the skills that had been drummed into
him from the early days of Primary Flight training, and ahead were
no large open spaces - only small fields with the hedgerows of
Normandy. He picked one and it was too close; the next was too far
but the best choice as Charlie stretched the glide, hit the hedge,
and dropped gently on the other side in a ball of fire.
Before Charlie had
started the third pass at the DZ, Grimes and the Co-pilot had lost
their night vision. The Co-pilot, not knowing the condition of
Grimes, grabbed the controls and pulled for altitude. As their
vision returned, Grimes and the Co-pilot looked at each other and
asked if the other was alright. Satisfied that Grimes was not
injured, the Co-pilot relaxed his grip on the controls, placed his
hands in his lap and found a small knob. He wondered what this was
from and then realized that it was off the altimeter. Looked to his
left at the hole in front of Grimes and discovered there was no
altimeter. Checking the rest of the instruments, he found only that
one tackometer [sic] was out and that all engine instruments were
indicating normal operation. No problem, half the fuel remained and
a shorter route to Saltby and lots of airfields in between if any
tank is leaking.