Pathfinders 6/6/44

The U.S. airborne landings in Normandy were the first U.S. combat operations during Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy by the Western Allies on June 6, 1944, during World War II. Around 13,100 American paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions made night parachute drops early on D-Day, June 6, followed by 3,937 glider troops flown in by day. As the opening maneuver of Operation Neptune (the assault operation for Overlord) the two American airborne divisions were delivered to the continent in two parachute and six glider missions.

 

The 300 men of the pathfinder companies were organized into teams of 14-18 paratroops each, whose main responsibility would be to deploy the ground beacon of the Rebecca/Eureka transponding radar system, and set out holophane marking lights. The Rebecca, an airborne sender-receiver, indicated on its scope the direction and approximate range of the Eureka, a responsor beacon. The paratroops trained at the school for two months with the troop carrier crews, but although every C-47 in IX TCC had a Rebecca interrogator installed, to keep from jamming the system with hundreds of signals, only flight leads were authorized to use it in the vicinity of the drop zones.

Despite many early failures in its employment, the Eureka-Rebecca system had been used with high accuracy in Italy in a night drop of the 82nd Airborne Division to reinforce the U.S. Fifth Army during the Salerno landings, codenamed Operation Avalanche, in September 1943. However, a shortcoming of the system was that within 2 miles (3.2 km) of the ground emitter, the signals merged into a single blip in which both range and bearing were lost. The system was designed to steer large formations of aircraft to within a few miles of a drop zone, at which point the holophane marking lights or other visual markers would guide completion of the drop.

Each drop zone (DZ) had a serial of three C-47 aircraft assigned to locate the DZ and drop pathfinder teams, who would mark it. The serials in each wave were to arrive at six-minute intervals. The pathfinder serials were organized in two waves, with those of the 101st Airborne Division arriving a half-hour before the first scheduled assault drop. These would be the first American and possibly the first Allied troops to land in the invasion. The three pathfinder serials of the 82nd Airborne Division were to begin their drops as the final wave of 101st Airborne Division paratroopers landed, thirty minutes ahead of the first 82nd Airborne Division drops.

 

Efforts of the early wave of pathfinder teams to mark the drop zones were partially ineffective. The first serial, assigned to DZ A, missed its zone and set up a mile away near St. Germain-de-Varreville. The team was unable to get either its amber halophane lights or its Eureka beacon working until the drop was well in progress. Although the second pathfinder serial had a plane ditch in the sea en route, the remainder dropped two teams near DZ C, but most of their marker lights were lost in the ditched airplane. They managed to set up a Eureka beacon just before the assault force arrived but were forced to use a hand held signal light which was not seen by some pilots. The planes assigned to DZ D along the Douve River failed to see their final turning point and flew well past the zone. Returning from an unfamiliar direction, they dropped 10 minutes late and 1 mile (1.6 km) off target. The drop zone was chosen after the 501st PIR's change of mission on May 27 and was in an area identified by the Germans as a likely landing area. Consequently so many Germans were nearby that the pathfinders could not set out their lights and were forced to rely solely on Eureka, which was a poor guide at short range.

The pathfinders of the 82nd Airborne Division had similar results. The first serial, bound for DZ O near Sainte-Mère-Église, flew too far north but corrected its error and dropped near its DZ. It made the most effective use of the Eureka beacons and holophane marking lights of any pathfinder team. The planes bound for DZ N south of Sainte-Mère-Église flew their mission accurately and visually identified the zone but still dropped the teams a mile southeast. They landed among troop areas of the German 91st Division and were unable to reach the DZ. The teams assigned to mark DZ T northwest of Sainte-Mère-Église were the only ones dropped with accuracy, and while they deployed both Eureka and BUPS, they were unable to show lights because of the close proximity of German troops. Altogether, four of the six drops zones could not display marking lights.

The pathfinder teams assigned to Drop Zones C (101st) and N (82nd) each carried two BUPS beacons. The units for DZ N were intended to guide in the parachute resupply drop scheduled for late on D-Day, but the pair of DZ C were to provide a central orientation point for all the SCR-717 radars to get bearings. However the units were damaged in the drop and provided no assistance.

 

Plane #1 - Team A

TEAM "A" was scheduled to land at point on DZ "A" of 389-968 flying from NW to SE at 0020, June 6, 1944. Actual landing was made in vicinity of St. Germaine de-Varreville (394-994) and flying from ENE to WSW at approximately 0015. All three sticks dropped together and could be seen together but were considerably strung out with the last man in each aircraft landing near Beuzeville-au-Plain (370-985). Upon assembly and orientation it was the decision of Capt. Lillyman to select the best available field in the immediate area and establish the Radar and Light Aids. Enemy fire had been received from the vicinity of Fucarville, from the beach area and from the vicinity of Audouville la-Hubert. There was no enemy fire.

Paratroopers

Captain Frank I. Lillyman 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR, 3rd Bn, I Co

First Lieutenant Robert S. Dixon 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR, Hq

First Lieutenant Samuel McCarter 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR, 1st Bn, Hq

Second Lieutenant Reed Pelfrey 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR, Hq

Technical 5th Thomas C. Walton 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Technical 5th Owen R. Council 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR, Hq

Private First Class Delbert A. Jones 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR, 1st Bn, B Co

Private First Class Phillip Sangenario 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private First Class Frederick A. Wilhelm 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private James J. Bement 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private Jarris C. Clark 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private Paul O. Davis 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private John H. Funk 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private John S. MacFarlen 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR, Hq

Private August M. Mangoni 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR, 1st Bn, B Co

Private John G. Ott 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR, Hq

Private Francis A. Rocca 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR, 1st Bn, C Co

Private Raymond Smith 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private Buford R. Williams 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private John S. Zamanakos 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR, Hq

Aircrew

Lieutenant Colonel Joel Crouch Pilot

Captain Vito Pedone Co-pilot

Captain William Culp Navigator

Plane #2 - Team A

Paratroopers

Captain Henry G. Plitt 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR, Hq

Second Lieutenant Napoleon T. Lavalle 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR, Hq

Technical 5th Glenn B. Braddok 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private First Class Clifford C. Gorton 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private First Class William F. Haas 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR, Medical Co

Private First Class John Kleinfelder 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private First Class William B.. Mench 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private First Class Roy B. Stephens 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private First Class Ernest E. Stone 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private First Class Vincent C. Wallace 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private First Class Rog William 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private Louis F. Banft 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private George C. Dagres 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private Wilfred Deslauriers 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private Gilbert Driscoll 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private James E. Elliot 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private Bernard L. Ormsbee 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private Francis C. Rocca 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private Philip A. Sangenario 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Plane #3 - Team A

no details

Plane #4 - Team C

TEAM "C" was scheduled to drop on DZ C at 0025 at Point 399928. Actual drop was made at 394-929 for one stick (Lt. Kessler, Stick 1 506th) and at 406-918 with remaining Stick, Lt. Faith, Stick 3, 501st Parachute Infantry. Base Stick, Stick 2, 506th, Lt. Rothwell Jumpmaster was forced down in the channel, time, place and cause unknown but reports have been received to the effect that the entire plane load was safely returned to England after going down.

Paratroopers

First Lieutenant Gordon O. Rothwell 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 2nd Bn, D Co

Second Lieutenant Rolf Michaelis 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 2nd Bn, D Co

First Sergeant Charles R. Malley 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 2nd Bn, F Co

Corporal Calvin Jackson 101st Airborne Div., 326th Abn Engineers

Corporal Jack E. Mattz 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 2nd Bn, D Co

Corporal Richard Wright 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Private First Class Robert R. Blankenship 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 2nd Bn, D Co

Private First Class Carl L. Fenstermaker 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Private First Class Stephen Pustola 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 2nd Bn, F Co

Private First Class John Sherbon 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 2nd Bn, D Co

Private First Class Lachlan M. Tillman 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 2nd Bn, D Co

Private First Class John W. Wright 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 2nd Bn, D Co

Private Frederick Linacre 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 2nd Bn, D Co

Private Henry Meehan 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 2nd Bn, D Co

Private Charles Partlow 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 2nd Bn, D Co

Private Jerome E. Werbela 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 2nd Bn, D Co

Private James William Wheeler 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 2nd Bn, Hq

Private John White 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 2nd Bn, D Co

Aircrew

Captain Clyde Taylor Pilot

Hal Sperber Co-pilot

Preston Corsa Navigator

Marvin Blckbum Crew Chief

Waters Radio Operator

Plane #5 - Team C

Paratroopers

First Lieutenant Roy H. Kessler 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 1st Bn,

Second Lieutenant Walter Amerman 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 1st Bn,

Sergeant Walter H. Skeen 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 1st Bn,

Corporal LeRoy Sholenberg 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 1st Bn,

Private First Class Donald W. Carter 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 1st Bn,

Private First Class Eugene D. Doerr 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 1st Bn,

Private First Class Harold G. Duty 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 1st Bn,

Private First Class Terrence C. Harris 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 1st Bn,

Private First Class Cleo W. Mars 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 1st Bn, C Co

Private Leo C. Bert 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 1st Bn,

Private George H. Blain 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 1st Bn,

Private Harold W. Combs 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 1st Bn,

Private John Rozsman 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 1st Bn,

Private Robert Pollard 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 1st Bn,

Private Manderson V. Pullin 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 1st Bn,

Private George H. Slater 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 1st Bn,

Private Fred J. Taylor 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 1st Bn,

Plane #6 - Team C

Paratroopers

First Lieutenant John W. Ell 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 3rd Bn, H Co

Second Lieutenant Charles M. Faith 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 3rd Bn, Hq

Staff Sergeant Chester Garretson 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 3rd Bn,

Technical 5th Henry J. Billings 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 3rd Bn, Hq

Private First Class Lawrence R. Burgeon 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 3rd Bn, I Co

Private First Class Kendell C. Lewis 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 3rd Bn, I Co

Private William J. Dooley 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 3rd Bn, ICo

Private Everly Spencer E. 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 3rd Bn, Hq

Private Edmund L. Gregoire 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 3rd Bn, I Co

Private Alvin Haux 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 3rd Bn, Hq

Private Lester Hunt 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 3rd Bn, Hq

Private Donald J. McDougall 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 3rd Bn,

Private Michael Rofar 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 3rd Bn, Hq

PrivateErnest A. Robinson 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 3rd Bn, Hq

Private George L. Sarlas 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 3rd Bn, Hq

Private Stanley S. Suwarsky 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 3rd Bn,

Private Bert V. Tadean 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 3rd Bn, I Co

Private Henry C. Taylor 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 3rd Bn, I Co

Plane #7 - Team D

TEAM "D" was scheduled to be dropped at 0030 at point 392-889. Actual drop was made west of St. Come-du-Mont from points 373-992 south to 378-879 at approximately 0047. This jump was carried out under intense enemy MG fire and anti-aircraft fire. Assembly of the three sticks was impossible although Lt. Watson, 501st Parachute Infantry and Cpl Beaver did establish one Eureka on DZ which was in operation and being triggered by A/C on scheduled time. Twenty-three of this Team of 54 officers and enlisted men are still carried as MIA and are believed to be prisoners of war. Stick leader of Stick 3, 506th Parachute Infantry, Mr. Dillburn, WOJG, has been reported PW by Capt. Brown who likewise was captured but who later escaped.

Paratroopers

Captain Frank L. Brown 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 2nd Bn, Hq

First Lieutenant Joseph G. McGregor 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Second Lieutenant James V. Haslam 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 2nd Bn, Hq

Sergeant Joseph Bass 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 2nd Bn, F Co

Technical 5th Richard H. Beaver 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 2nd Bn,

Corporal Thorwald K. Larsen 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 2nd Bn, F Co

Corporal Hiliary J. McKenna 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Corporal Russell G. Waller 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 2nd Bn,

Private First Class Robert A. Howarth 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 2nd Bn, D Co

Private First Class Manuel Peralis 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Private First Class Robert E. Sechrist 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 2nd Bn,

Private John J. Bouska 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Private Robert J. Miliski 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Private Leonard J. Newcomb 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 2nd Bn, F Co

Private Ralph A. Newton 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 2nd Bn, F Co

Private Walter V. Olender 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Private Theodore T. Piers 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Private Eugene L. Schuler 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Private Harold E. Sellers 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 2nd Bn,

Aircrew

Jackobson Pilot

Plane #8 - Team D

Paratroopers

Second Lieutenant John H. Crow 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 1st Bn, B Co

Second Lieutenant Albert E. Watson 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 1st Bn, A Co

Sergeant Warren K. McGinley 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 1st Bn, C Co

Sergeant John O'Shaughnessy 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 1st Bn, B Co

Technical 5th John E. Eagen 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 1st Bn, B Co

Technical 5th Jsoeph Haller 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 1st Bn,

Corporal Delbert S. Brazzle 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 1st Bn,

Private First Class George A. Adomitis 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 1st Bn,

Private First Class Charles E. Coleman 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 1st Bn, B Co

Private First Class Paul M. Fletcher 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 1st Bn,B Co

Private First Class Stephen Via Jr 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 1st Bn, B Co

Private Alvin Daley 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 1st Bn, B Co

Private Lubomir Dejanovich 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 1st Bn,

Private David W. Hadley 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 1st Bn,

Private Clarence J. Jack 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 1st Bn, A Co

Private John D. Mishler 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 1st Bn, B Co

Private John O. Ryan 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 1st Bn, B Co

Private Thomas M. Walker 101st Airborne Div., 501st PIR, 1st Bn, B Co

Plane #9 - Team D

Paratroopers

Second Lieutenant John T. Windish 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 3rd Bn, I Co

Warrant Officer Ernest L. Dilbrun 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 3rd Bn,

Sergeant Thayer Carlton 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 3rd Bn,

Sergeant Sidney L. McCallum 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 3rd Bn,

Technical 5th Erwin F. Zahnadnik 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 3rd Bn,

Technical 4th Louis B. Tuttle 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 3rd Bn,

Corporal James A. Benson 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 3rd Bn,

Private First Class Jack L. Brown 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 3rd Bn,

Private First Class Wilbur D. Croteau 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 3rd Bn, G Co

Private First Class John D. Edwards 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 3rd Bn,

Private First Class George Kenfield 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 3rd Bn,

Private First Class Edmund Lojko 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 3rd Bn,

Private First Class John J. Houk 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 3rd Bn,

Private First Class William Weber 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 3rd Bn,

Private George McMillan 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 3rd Bn,

Private David D. Morgan 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 3rd Bn,

Private Dell T. Ripple 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 3rd Bn,

Private Raymond J. Schaneer 101st Airborne Div., 506th PIR, 3rd Bn,

Plane #10 - 505th Team

The 505th pathfinder team, commanded by 1st Lt. James J. Smith, Air Corps Commanding Officer Captain Kirkpatrick, took off as per schedule. Encountering little flak on the run in from landfall to DZ, dropped within 400 yards of previously designated pinpoint. The drop was six minutes early. The DZ was set up as per SOP, with the exception of one battalion light tee. This tee was not put into action due to the faulty assembly. Eurekas were set up within ten minutes of drop time. Eurekas were first triggered fifteen minutes from the time of the first element drop. Three serials dropped on and near the 505th pinpoint. All serials were approximately ten minutes early. The first serial dropped southeast of lighted tee, approximately one-half mile. The second serial dropped directly over lighted tee. The third serial dropped north by approximately one-half mile. The third serial appeared to be travelling at a speed of at least 150 miles per hour, at time of drop. Several jumpers sustained ruptures, due to the excessive speed.

Paratroopers

First Lieutenant J. J. Smith 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Second Lieutenant Robert B. Bales 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Private First Class Anthony J. Demayo 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Private First Class Julius Eisner 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR, 2nd Bn, D Co

Private First Class William E. Embury 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Private First Class Virgil W. Newman 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Private First Class Dennis G. O'Loughlin 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Private Fred E. Golden 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Private Lee E. Lovelady 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR, 2nd Bn

Aircrew

Captain William S. Kirkpatrick Pilot

First Lieutenant Charles W. Bossardet 

First Lieutenant Frank J. Liske 

First Lieutenant Charles F. Schoene Jr 

Plane #11 - 505th Team

Plane #12 - 505th Team

Paratroopers

First Lieutenant Michael C. Chester 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR, 1st Bn, A Co

Staff Sergeant Simon H. Hannig 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR, 1st Bn

Sergeant James E. Jones 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR, 1st Bn

Technical 5th Maynard S. Meyers 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR, 1st Bn

Corporal Lewis D. Allen 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR, 1st Bn

Private First Class Jasper J. Bowman 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR, 1st Bn

Private First Class Leslie D. Freis 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR, 1st Bn

Private First Class John E. Ragle 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR, 1st Bn

Private First Class Philip F. Verduce 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR, 1st Bn

Private First Class William W. Young 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR, 1st Bn

Private Charles L. Burghduff 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR, 1st Bn

Private Charles S. Copping 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR, 1st Bn

Private James J. Currin 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR, 1st Bn

Private Edward Devonshuk 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR, 1st Bn

Private Robert M. Murphy 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR, 1st Bn, A Co

Private George H. Purcell 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR, 1st Bn

Private Ralph Stout Jr 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR, 1st Bn

Private Julius A. Wyngaert 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR, 1st Bn

Aircrew

Captain Samuel W. Suttle Pilot

First Lieutenant Frank E. Hayden 

Flight Officer James W. Alwood 

Technical Sergeant Morris Brown 

Plane #13 - 507th Team

The 507th, commanded by 1st Lt. Joseph, 507th Parachute Infantry, flight led by Captain Minor, Air Corps. Flight took off on time at North Witham. Dropped on designated DZ accurately, on time. At time of drop, pathfinder personnel and pathfinder aircraft were subjected to heavy anti-aircraft fire. The jumpers, on reaching the ground, found themselves in a German Troop concentration. Due to aggressive action of enemy troops, the DZ was not set up according to SOP. No lights were turned on. One Eureka was set up by this pathfinder team twenty minutes prior to scheduled drop of first serial. Eurekas were triggered fifteen minutes prior to drop of first scheduled serial. All elements appeared on time. These elements were widely scattered upon arrival, apparently due to action of enemy anti-aircraft fire. A maximum of fifty aircraft dropped their parachutists on the DZ. Eureka remained in action twenty minutes after scheduled time of last serials. A few strays dropped after scheduled time.

Paratroopers

First Lieutenant John T. Joseph 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 3rd Bn, G Co

First Lieutenant Claude V. Crooks Jr 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 3rd Bn, I Co

First Lieutenant James H. Goethe 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 1st Bn, A Co

Sergeant William E. Consolvo 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 3rd Bn, G Co

Technical 5th Loyd F. Durfee 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 3rd Bn, H Co

Technical 4th Paul B. Thore 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 3rd Bn, I Co

Corporal Roy E. Neideffer 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 3rd Bn, I Co

Corporal Alexander F. Turlo 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 3rd Bn, G Co

Private First Class Robert E. Kelley 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 3rd Bn, H Co

Private First Class Milton F. Nielson 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 3rd Bn, Hq

Private First Class Edward G. Miller 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 3rd Bn, I Co

Private First Class Thomas L. Rodgers 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 3rd Bn, G Co

Private James S. Carper 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 3rd Bn, Hq

Private Arthur Caton Jr 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 3rd Bn, G Co

Private William L. Gray 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 2nd Bn, Hq

Private Melvin E. Marshall 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 3rd Bn, G Co

Private Thomas J. McCarty 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 2nd Bn, Hq

Private James M. McCormick 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 3rd Bn, Hq

Private John G. Saris 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 3nd Bn, H Co

Aircrew

Captain Paul Minor Pilot

Second Lieutenant Henry Maxfield Co-pilot

Second Lieutenant Robert Keyser Navigator

Technical Sergeant Frank Welden Crew Chief

Staff Sergeant Nelson S. Renold Radio Operator

Plane #14 - 507th Team

Paratroopers

First Lieutenant Ralph S. McGill 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 2nd Bn, F Co

Second Lieutenant Charles R. Ames 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Sergeant Jerome Shapiro 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 2nd Bn, Hq

Sergeant John A. Turner 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 2nd Bn, F Co

Technical 4th Rolland J. Duff 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 2nd Bn, Hq

Corporal Russell B. Dillard 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 2nd Bn, Hq

Corporal Eddie A. Tamplen 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 2nd Bn, F Co

Corporal Peter J. Weathers 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 2nd Bn, F Co

Private First Class Robert J. Beaudine 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 2nd Bn, F Co

Private First Class Otto Eichelberg 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Private First Class Ronald B. Nicholson 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 2nd Bn, Hq

Private First Class Louis C. Waldorf 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Private Curry M. Adderton 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 2nd Bn, G Co

Private Ray A. Embree 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Private Edward W. Endsley 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 2nd Bn, Hq

Private Michael Evanick 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 2nd Bn, G Co

Private Roy E. Norris 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 2nd Bn, Hq

Private William L. Robbins 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Private Bernard C. Shipton 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 1st Bn, C Co

Private James O. Wallis 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Aircrew

First Lieutenant David Hamilton Pilot

Second Lieutenant Stanton F. Bierwith Co-pilot

Second Lieutenant Carl R. Jones Navigator

Technical Sergeant Melvin Doherty Crew Chief

Staff Sergeant Samuel Carlley Radio Operator

Plane #15 - 507th Team

Paratroopers

First Lieutenant George R. O'Brien 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 1st Bn, Hq

Technical 5th Vincent Brophy 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 1st Bn, Hq

Technical 5th Robert C. Mitchell 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 1st Bn, Hq

Technical 4th William O. Armstrong 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 1st Bn, C Co

Private First Class John R. Bergendahl 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 1st Bn, Hq

Private First Class Fred L. Burns 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 1st Bn, C Co

Private First Class Walter E. Chaney 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 2nd Bn, Hq

Private First Class Amos R. Cundiff 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 1st Bn, B Co

Private First Class John Despot 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 1st Bn, Medical Co

Private First Class John D. Dickenson 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 1st Bn, C Co

Private First Class Donald C. Hansen 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 1st Bn, B Co

Private First Class Warren H. Jones 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 1st Bn, C Co

Private First Class John C. Mortzfeldt 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 1st Bn, C Co

Private First Class Thomas E. Munden 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 1st Bn, A Co

Private First Class Robert E. Olsen 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 1st Bn, A Co

Private First Class Paul E. Pachowka 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 1st Bn, C Co

Private First Class William R. Wolf 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 1st Bn, C Co

Priavte Zigmund Hojnowski 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 1st Bn, A Co

Private Thompson J. Morris 82nd Airborne Div., 507th PIR, 1st Bn, A Co

Aircrew

First Lieutenant Edward B. McIntosh Pilot

Second Lieutenant Robert E. Hoffman Co-pilot

Second Lieutenant Fred S. Peter Navigator

Technical Sergeant Vito Bonasoro Crew Chief

Staff Sergeant Lloyd F. Klein Radio Operator

Plane #16 - 508th Team

508th, commanded by Captain N. L. McRoberts of the 505th Parachute Infantry, Air Corps flight leader, Captain Miles, took off on time, from North Witham, made landfall on time, encountering little flak until over Saint Sauveur le Vicomte. Flak continued from Saint Sauveur le Vicomte to run in for drop. Anti-aircraft fire shifted from planes to jumpers at time of drop. Drop was on time, approximately one and one-half miles south and slightly east from previously selected DZ. Due to aggressive enemy action on the ground, lights were not able to be turned on with the exception of two; one of which was coded in the predesignated code. BUPS Beacon was set up and operating twenty minutes prior to arrival of first scheduled serial. One Eureka was set up and operating twenty minutes prior to first scheduled serial. Eureka was triggered approximately twelve minutes prior to drop time. BUPS Beacon was receiving definite tuning of homing planes.

Paratroopers

Captain Niels McRoberts 82nd Airborne Div., 505th PIR

Second Lieutenant Robert J. Weaver 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 1st Bn, Hq

Corporal R. J. Smith 82nd Airborne Div.,

Private First Class J. T. Barkley 82nd Airborne Div.,

Private First Class Paul Demciak 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 1st Bn, B Co

Private First Class Cipriano Gomez 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 1st Bn, C Co

Private First Class Wilburn L. Sutler 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 1st Bn, C Co

Private A. B. Cannon 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 1st Bn, A Co

Private Donald E. Krause 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 1st Bn, B Co

Private Nicolas R. Trevino 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 1st Bn, B Co

Private James H. Weinerth 82nd Airborne Div.,

Aircrew

Miles Pilot

Gilliam 

Gene Wilger 

N. Herro 

Plane #17 - 508th Team

Paratroopers

Second Lieutenant T. Murphy 82nd Airborne Div., 504th PIR

Second Lieutenant Lloyd L. Polette 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 2nd Bn, F Co

Sergeant Katsanis 82nd Airborne Div., 504th PIR

Cororal Ernest J. King 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 2nd Bn, F Co

Private First Class Murray E. Daly 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 2nd Bn, D Co

Private First Class Carl W. Jones 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Private First Class Eddie Livington 82nd Airborne Div., 504th PIR, 3rd Bn, I Co

Private First Class Beverly J. Moss 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 2nd Bn

Private First Class John Ternosky 82nd Airborne Div., 504th PIR, 3rd Bn, I Co

Private First Class Robert L. Seale 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 2nd Bn, F Co

Private Robert A. Andreas 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Private Nick Forkapa 82nd Airborne Div., 504th PIR

Private John G. Gerard 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 2nd Bn

Private Frederick J. Infanger 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Private Howard Jessup 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 2nd Bn, Hq

Private Stanton H. Mesenbrink 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Private John P. Perdue 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 2nd Bn, D Co

Private R. L. Seale 82nd Airborne Div.,

Private Norman C. Willis 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Aircrew

First Lieutenant C. Caudio Pilot

Second Lieutenant Elbert Hamilton 

Second Lieutenant R. Perez 

Second Lieutenant L. Vohs

Plane #18 - 508th Team

Paratroopers

Second Lieutenant Edward T. Czepinski 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 3rd Bn, H Co

Second Lieutenant Gene H. Williams (KIA 20 June 44) 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 3rd Bn, G Co

Sergeant Robert V. Barbiaux 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 3rd Bn, G Co

Technical 5th Francis Lamoureux 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 3rd Bn, GCo

Corporal Charles F. Calvert 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 3rd Bn, I Co

Private First Class Walter W. Harrelson (KIA 23 June 44) 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 3rd Bn, H Co

Private First Class Warren C. Jeffers 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 3rd Bn, G Co

Private First Class Arnold H. Martin 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 3rd Bn, H Co

Private First Class Fayette O. Richardson 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 3rd Bn, H Co

Private Charles H. Rogers 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR,

Private First Class John E. Sternesky 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 3rd Bn, G Co

Private John J. Baldassar 82nd Airborne Div., 504th PIR, 3rd Bn, H Co

Private Hal A. Murdock 82nd Airborne Div., 504th PIR, 3rd Bn, I Co

Private Ralph W. Nicholson (KIA 17 June 44) 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 3rd Bn, G Co

Private Cicero J. Parchman 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 3rd Bn, G Co

Private Henry S. Pawlings (KIA 6 June 44) 82nd Airborne Div., 504th PIR, 3rd Bn, G Co

Private John R. Rigapoulos 82nd Airborne Div., 504th PIR, 3rd Bn, G Co

Private Eric Stott 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 3rd Bn, Hq

Private Roscoe H. Walker 82nd Airborne Div., 508th PIR, 3rd Bn, I Co

Aircrew

First Lieutenant Lionel E. Wood Pilot

Delbert W. Hoffman Co-pilot

Second Lieutenant Charles D. Gunn Navigator

Staff Sergeant Harold Barr Crew Chief

Corporal Joe Comacho Radio Operator

Plane #19 - Team E

TEAM E was scheduled to drop on DZ C at 0027 at Point 393-927 and landed approximately 0029 at point 395-895. Both sticks were together when dropped and Lt. Driver assembled his entire stick in approximately ten minutes. Lt. Hensley was missing five men on the assembly. These two teams were to mark the LZ at two points withe base stick establishing the Eureka. Eureka was established at approximately 0330 by which time the two sticks had moved to the correct LZ's. Eurekas were turned on at 0350 and reception was made with transmitting aircraft prior to 0400. Both teams established lights but those established by Lt. Driver were knocked out by a landing Glider at approximately 0420. Lt. Hensley kept his lights on until approximately 0445.

Paratroopers

First Lieutenant Donald S. Driver 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Second Lieutenant James W. Tolar 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Technical 5th Richard R. Lisk 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Technical 5th Clifford J. McDowell 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Technical 5th Hugh W. Selby 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private First Class William G. Casey 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR, 3rd Bn, G Co

Private First Class Troy S. Estes 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Private First Class Cleo G. Reed 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Private First Class Howard Stiles 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR, 3rd Bn, H Co

Private Henry J. Bohleke 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private Dominick Cherico 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Private Lawrence F. Hall 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Private Joseph Hatcher 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private Harold D. Locke 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR, 2nd Bn, E Co

Private William G. Netterwold 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private David C. Parks 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private James H. Perkins 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Private Max S. Trujillo 101st Airborne Div., 502nd PIR,

Plane #20 - Team E

A study of the photographs above, reveal that almost all Pathfinders carried either a Thompson or the Garand. I think only two M3 Grease Gun are visible (plane #1 & #6) and I didn't even notice a single M1 Carbine (except one being held by one of the planes crew). So if reenacting a Pathfinder, you'd better be opting for either a Thompson or a Garand. 

The highest rank of all the Pathfinders was a Captain, although most planes where just commanded by a couple of Lt's.

Most of the M42 jump suits have been camouflaged up. However, even in the units that are clearly adopted this, you can still clearly see a couple of troopers that didn't do this and they do stand out. Why didn't they follow the trend? is it just a replacement jump suit? Who knows.

Although its very hard to see the waist lines of these Pathfinders, there is a distinct lack of M1911 Automatic Pistols where only one is visible out of all these guys... the very reverse to what we see in the reenacting field!  So thing may need to be done about the entire world wearing holsters. Especially the dreaded shoulder holster! If you own one... just don't wear it! I am struggling to find a single photograph of any pathfinders wearing one... these get joked about a little like the white T-shirts under the M42... farb etc... sorry to tell you fans of the shoulder holster.

The assault lift (one air transport operation) was divided into two missions, "Albany" and "Boston", each with three regiment-sized landings on a drop zone. The drop zones of the 101st were northeast of Carentan and lettered A, C, and D from north to south (Drop Zone B had been that of the 501st PIR before the changes of May 27). Those of the 82nd were west (T and O, from west to east) and southwest (Drop Zone N) of Sainte-Mère-Eglise.

Each parachute infantry regiment (PIR), a unit of approximately 1800 men organized into three battalions, was transported by three or four serials, formations containing 36, 45, or 54 C-47s, and separated from each other by specific time intervals. The planes, sequentially designated within a serial by chalk numbers (literally numbers chalked on the airplanes to aid paratroopers in boarding the correct airplane), were organized into flights of nine aircraft, in a formation pattern called "vee of vee's" (vee-shaped elements of three planes arranged in a larger vee of three elements), with the flights flying one behind the other. The serials were scheduled over the drop zones at six-minute intervals. The paratroopers were divided into sticks, a plane load of troops numbering 15-18 men.

To achieve surprise, the parachute drops were routed to approach Normandy at low altitude from the west. The serials took off beginning at 22:30 on June 5, assembled into formations at wing and command assembly points, and flew south to the departure point, code-named "Flatbush". There they descended and flew southwest over the English Channel at 500 feet (150 m) MSL to remain below German radar coverage. Each flight within a serial was 1,000 feet (300 m) behind the flight ahead. The flights encountered winds that pushed them five minutes ahead of schedule, but the effect was uniform over the entire invasion force and had negligible effect on the timetables. Once over water, all lights except formation lights were turned off, and these were reduced to their lowest practical intensity.

Twenty-four minutes 57 miles (92 km) out over the channel, the troop carrier stream reached a stationary marker boat code-named "Hoboken" and carrying a Eureka beacon, where they made a sharp left turn to the southeast and flew between the Channel Islands of Guernsey and Alderney. Weather over the channel was clear; all serials flew their routes precisely and in tight formation as they approached their initial points on the Cotentin coast, where they turned for their respective drop zones. The initial point for the 101st at Portbail, code-named "Muleshoe", was approximately 10 miles (16 km) south of that of the 82d, "Peoria", near Flamanville.

Scattered Drops

Despite precise execution over the channel, numerous factors encountered over the Cotentin Peninsula disrupted the accuracy of the drops, many encountered in rapid succession or simultaneously. These included:

  • C-47 configuration, including severe overloading, use of drag-inducing parapacks, and shifting centers of gravity,

  • a lack of navigators on 60 percent of aircraft, forcing navigation by pilots when formations broke up,

  • radio silence that prevented warnings when adverse weather was encountered,

  • a solid cloud bank at penetration altitude (1,500 feet (460 m)), obscuring the entire western half of the 22 miles (35 km) wide peninsula, thinning to broken clouds over the eastern half,

  • an opaque ground fog over many drop zones,

  • German antiaircraft fire ("flak"),

  • limitations of the Rebecca/Eureka transponding radar system used to guide serials to their drop zones,

  • emergency usage of Rebecca by numerous lost aircraft, jamming the system,

  • unmarked or poorly marked drop zones,

  • drop runs by some C-47s that were above or below the designated 700 feet (210 m) drop altitude, or in excess of the 110 miles per hour (180 km/h) drop speed, and

  • second or third passes over an area searching for drop zones.

Flak from German anti-aircraft guns resulted in planes either going under or over their prescribed altitudes. Some of the men who jumped from planes at lower altitudes were injured when they hit the ground because of their chutes not having enough time to slow their descent, while others who jumped from higher altitudes reported a terrifying descent of several minutes watching tracer fire streaking up towards them.

Of the 20 serials making up the two missions, nine plunged into the cloud bank and were badly dispersed. Of the six serials which achieved concentrated drops, none flew through the clouds. However the primary factor limiting success of the paratroop units, because it magnified all the errors resulting from the above factors, was the decision to make a massive parachute drop at night, a concept that was not again used in three subsequent large-scale airborne operations. This was further illustrated when the same troop carrier groups flew a second lift later that day with precision and success under heavy fire.

First Wave
 

Paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division "Screaming Eagles" jumped first on June 6, between 00:48 and 01:40 British Double Summer Time. 6,928 troops were carried aboard 432 C-47s of mission "Albany" organized into 10 serials. The first flights, inbound to DZ A, were not surprised by the bad weather, but navigating errors and a lack of Eureka signal caused the 2nd Battalion 502nd PIR to come down on the wrong drop zone. Most of the remainder of the 502nd jumped in a disorganized pattern around the impromptu drop zone set up by the pathfinders near the beach. Two battalion commanders took charge of small groups and accomplished all of their D-Day missions. The division's parachute artillery experienced one of the worst drops of the operation, losing all but one howitzer and most of its troops as casualties.

The three serials carrying the 506th PIR were badly dispersed by the clouds, then subjected to intense antiaircraft fire. Even so, 2/3 of the 1st Battalion was dropped accurately on DZ C. The 2nd Battalion, much of which had dropped too far west, fought its way to the Haudienville causeway by mid-afternoon but found that the 4th Division had already seized the exit. The 3rd Battalion of the 501st PIR, also assigned to DZ C, was more scattered, but took over the mission of securing the exits. A small unit reached the Pouppeville exit at 0600 and fought a six-hour battle to secure it, shortly before 4th Division troops arrived to link up.

The 501st PIR's serial also encountered severe flak but still made an accurate jump on Drop Zone D. Part of the DZ was covered by pre-registered German fire that inflicted heavy casualties before many troops could get out of their chutes. Among the killed were two of the three battalion commanders and one of their executive officers. A group of 150 troops captured the main objective, the la Barquette lock, by 04:00. A staff officer put together a platoon and achieved another objective by seizing two foot bridges near la Porte at 04:30. The 2nd Battalion landed almost intact on DZ D but in a day-long battle failed to take Saint-Côme-du-Mont and destroy the highway bridges over the Douve.

The glider battalions of the 101st's 327th Glider Infantry Regiment were delivered by sea and landed across Utah Beach with the 4th Infantry Division. On D-Day its third battalion, the 1st Battalion 401st GIR, landed just after noon and bivouacked near the beach. By the evening of June 7 the other two battalions were assembled near Sainte Marie du Mont.

Second Wave

The 82nd Airborne's drop, mission "Boston", began at 01:51. It was also a lift of 10 serials organized in three waves, totaling 6,420 paratroopers carried by 369 C-47s. The C-47s carrying the 505th did not experience the difficulties that had plagued the 101st's drops. Pathfinders on DZ O turned on their Eureka beacons as the first 82nd serial crossed the initial point and lighted holophane markers on all three battalion assembly areas. As a result the 505th enjoyed the most accurate of the D-Day drops, half the regiment dropping on or within a mile of its DZ, and 75 per cent within 2 miles (3.2 km).

The other regiments were more significantly dispersed. The 508th experienced the worst drop of any of the PIRs, with only 25 per cent jumping within a mile of the DZ. Half the regiment dropped east of the Merderet, where it was useless to its original mission. The 507th PIR's pathfinders landed on DZ T, but because of Germans nearby, marker lights could not be turned on. Approximately half landed nearby in grassy swampland along the river. Estimates of drowning casualties vary from "a few" to "scores" (against an overall D-Day loss in the division of 156 killed in action), but much equipment was lost and the troops had difficulty assembling.

Timely assembly enabled the 505th to accomplish two of its missions on schedule. With the help of a Frenchman who led them into the town, the 3rd Battalion captured Sainte-Mère-Église by 0430 against "negligible opposition" from German artillerymen. The 2nd Battalion established a blocking position on the northern approaches to Sainte-Mère-Église with a single platoon while the rest reinforced the 3rd Battalion when it was counterattacked at mid-morning. The 1st Battalion did not achieve its objectives of capturing bridges over the Merderet at la Fière and Chef-du-Pont, despite the assistance of several hundred troops from the 507th and 508th PIRs.

None of the 82nd's objectives of clearing areas west of the Merderet and destroying bridges over the Douve were achieved on D-Day. However one makeshift battalion of the 508th PIR seized a small hill near the Merderet and disrupted German counterattacks on Chef-du-Pont for three days, effectively accomplishing its mission. Two company-sized pockets of the 507th held out behind the German center of resistance at Amfreville until relieved by the seizure of the causeway on June 9.

D-Day Glider Landings

Two pre-dawn glider landings, missions "Chicago" (101st) and "Detroit" (82nd), each by 52 CG-4 Waco gliders, landed anti-tank guns and support troops for each division. The missions took off while the parachute landings were in progress and followed them by two hours, landing at about 0400, 2 hours before dawn. Chicago was an unqualified success, with 92 per cent landing within 2 miles (3.2 km) of target. Detroit was disrupted by the same cloud bank that had bedevilled the paratroops and only 62 per cent landed within 2 miles (3.2 km). Even so, both missions provided heavy weapons that were immediately placed into service. Only eight passengers were killed in the two missions, but one of those was the assistant division commander of the 101st Airborne, Brigadier General Don Pratt. Five gliders in the 82nd's serial, cut loose in the cloud bank, remained missing after a month.

Evening reinforcement missions

On the evening of D-Day two additional glider operations, mission "Keokuk" and mission "Elmira", brought in additional support on 208 gliders. Operating on British Double Summer Time, both arrived and landed before dark. Both missions were heavily escorted by P-38P-47, and P-51 fighters.

Keokuck was a reinforcement mission for the 101st Airborne consisting of a single serial of 32 tugs and gliders that took off beginning at 18:30. It arrived at 20:53, seven minutes early, coming in over Utah Beach to limit exposure to ground fire, into a landing zone clearly marked with yellow panels and green smoke. German forces around Turqueville and Saint Côme-du-Mont, 2 miles (3.2 km) on either side of Landing Zone E, held their fire until the gliders were coming down, and while they inflicted some casualties, were too distant to cause much harm. Although only five landed on the LZ itself and most were released early, the Horsa gliders landed without serious damage. Two landed within German lines. The mission is significant as the first Allied daylight glider operation, but was not significant to the success of the 101st Airborne.

Elmira was essential to the 82nd Airborne, however, delivering two battalions of glider artillery and 24 howitzers to support the 507th and 508th PIRs west of the Merderet. It consisted of four serials, the first pair to arrive ten minutes after Keokuck, the second pair two hours later at sunset. The first gliders, unaware that the LZ had been moved to Drop Zone O, came under heavy ground fire from German troops who occupied part of Landing Zone W. The C-47s released their gliders for the original LZ, where most delivered their loads intact despite heavy damage.

The second wave of mission Elmira arrived at 22:55, and because no other pathfinder aids were operating, they headed for the Eureka beacon on LZ O. That wave too came under severe ground fire as it passed directly over German positions. One serial released early and came down near the German lines, but the second came down on Landing Zone O. Nearly all of both battalions joined the 82nd Airborne by morning, and 15 guns were in operation on June 8.

Follow-up landing and supply operations

325th Glider Infantry Regiment

Two additional glider missions ("Galveston" and "Hackensack") were made just after daybreak on June 7, delivering the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment to the 82nd Airborne. The hazards and results of mission Elmira resulted in a route change over the Douve River valley that avoided the heavy ground fire of the evening before, and changed the landing zone to LZ E, that of the 101st Airborne Division. The first mission, Galveston, consisted of two serials carrying the 325th's 1st Battalion and the remainder of the artillery. Consisting of 100 glider-tug combinations, it carried nearly a thousand men, 20 guns, and 40 vehicles and released at 06:55. Small arms fire harried the first serial but did not seriously endanger it. Low releases resulted in a number of accidents and 100 injuries in the 325th (17 fatal). The second serial hit LZ W with accuracy and few injuries.

Mission Hackensack, bringing in the remainder of the 325th, released at 08:51. The first serial, carrying all of the 2nd Battalion and most of the 2nd Battalion 401st GIR (the 325th's "third battalion"), landed by squadrons in four different fields on each side of LZ W, one of which came down through intense fire. 15 troops were killed and 60 wounded, either by ground fire or by accidents caused by ground fire. The last glider serial of 50 Wacos, hauling service troops, 81 mm mortars, and one company of the 401st, made a perfect group release and landed at LZ W with high accuracy and virtually no casualties. By 10:15, all three battalions had assembled and reported in. With 90 per cent of its men present, the 325th GIR became the division reserve at Chef-du-Pont.

Airborne resupply

Two supply parachute drops, mission "Freeport" for the 82nd and mission "Memphis" intended for the 101st, were dropped on June 7. All of these operations came in over Utah Beach but were nonetheless disrupted by small arms fire when they overflew German positions, and virtually none of the 101st's supplies reached the division. Fourteen of the 270 C-47s on the supply drops were lost compared to only seven of the 511 glider tugs shot down.

In the week following, six resupply missions were flown on call by the 441st and 436th Troop carrier Groups, with 10 C-47's making parachute drop and 24 towing gliders. This brought the final total of IX Troop Carrier Command sorties during Operation Neptune to 2,166, with 533 of those being glider sorties.

Aircraft losses and casualties

Forty-two C-47s were destroyed in two days of operations, although in many cases the crews survived and were returned to Allied control. Twenty-one of the losses were on D-Day during the parachute assault, another seven while towing gliders, and the remaining fourteen during parachute resupply missions. Of the 517 gliders, 222 were Horsa gliders, most of which were destroyed in landing accidents or by German fire after landing. Although a majority of the 295 Waco gliders were repairable for use in future operations, the combat situation in the beachhead did not permit the introduction of troop carrier service units, and 97 per cent of all gliders used in the operation were abandoned in the field.

D-Day casualties for the airborne divisions were calculated in August 1944 as 1,240 for the 101st Airborne Division and 1,259 for the 82nd Airborne. Of those, the 101st suffered 182 killed, 557 wounded, and 501 missing. For the 82nd, the total was 156 killed, 347 wounded, and 756 missing.

Casualties through June 30 were reported by VII Corps as 4,670 for the 101st (546 killed, 2217 wounded, and 1,907 missing), and 4,480 for the 82nd (457 killed, 1440 wounded, and 2583 missing).

German casualties amounted to approximately 21,300 for the campaign. Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 6. reported approximately 3,000 through the end of July. Divisional totals, which include combat against all VII Corps units, not just airborne, and their reporting dates were:

  • 91. Luftlande-Infanterie-Division: 2,212 (June 12), 5,000 (July 23)

  • 243. Infanterie-Division: 8,189 (July 11)

  • 709. Infanterie-Division: 4,000 (June 16)

  • 17 SS-Panzergrenadier Division: 1,096 (June 30)

Troop carrier controversy

In his 1962 book, Night Drop: The American Airborne Invasion of Normandy, Army historian S.L.A. Marshall concluded that the mixed performance overall of the airborne troops in Normandy resulted from poor performance by the troop carrier pilots. In coming to that conclusion he did not interview any aircrew nor qualify his opinion to that extent, nor did he acknowledge that British airborne operations on the same night succeeded despite also being widely scattered. Marshall’s original data came from after-action interviews with paratroopers after their return to England in July 1944, which was also the basis of all U.S. Army histories on the campaign written after the war, and which he later incorporated in his own commercial book.

General Omar Bradley blamed "pilot inexperience and anxiety" as well as weather for the failures of the paratroopers. Memoirs by former 101st troopers, notably Donald Burgett (Currahee) and Laurence Critchell (Four Stars of Hell) harshly denigrated the pilots based on their own experiences, implying cowardice and incompetence (although Burgett also praised the Air Corps as "the best in the world"). Later John Keegan (Six Armies in Normandy) and Clay Blair (Ridgway’s Paratroopers: The American Airborne in World War II) escalated the tone of the criticism, stating that troop carrier pilots were the least qualified in the Army Air Forces, disgruntled, and castoffs. Others critical included Max Hastings (Overlord: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy) and James Huston (Out of the Blue: U.S. Army Airborne Operations in World War II). As late as 2003 a prominent history (Airborne: A Combat History of American Airborne Forces by retired Lieutenant General E.M. Flanagan) repeated these and other assertions, all of it laying failures in Normandy at the feet of the pilots.

This criticism primarily derived from anecdotal testimony in the battle-inexperienced 101st Airborne. Criticism from veterans of the 82nd Airborne was not only rare, its commanders Ridgway and Gavin both officially commended the troop carrier groups, as did Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Vandervoort and even one prominent 101st veteran, Captain Frank Lillyman, commander of its pathfinders. Gavin’s commendation said in part:

The accomplishments of the parachute regiments are due to the conscientious and efficient tasks of delivery performed by your pilots and crews. I am aware, as we all are, that your wing suffered losses in carrying out its missions and that a very bad fog condition was encountered inside the west coast of the peninsula. Yet despite this every effort was made for an exact and precise delivery as planned. In most cases this was successful.

The troop carrier pilots in their remembrances and histories admitted to many errors in the execution of the drops but denied the aspersions on their character, citing the many factors since enumerated and faulty planning assumptions. Some, such as Martin Wolfe, an enlisted radio operator with the 436th TCG, pointed out that some late drops were caused by the paratroopers, who were struggling to get their equipment out the door until their aircraft had flown by the drop zone by several miles. Others mistook drops made ahead of theirs for their own drop zones and insisted on going early. The TCC personnel also pointed out that anxiety at being new to combat was not confined to USAAF crews. Warren reported that official histories showed 9 paratroopers had refused to jump and at least 35 other uninjured paratroopers were returned to England aboard C-47s. General Gavin reported that many paratroopers were in a daze after the drop, huddling in ditches and hedgerows until prodded into action by veterans. Wolfe noted that although his group had botched the delivery of some units in the night drop, it flew a second, daylight mission on D-Day and performed flawlessly although under heavy ground fire from alerted Germans.

Despite this, controversy did not flare until the assertions reached the general public as a commercial best-seller in Stephen Ambrose's Band of Brothers, particularly in sincere accusations by icons such as Richard Winters. In 1995, following publication of D-Day June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II, troop carrier historians, including veterans Lew Johnston (314th TCG), Michael Ingrisano Jr. (316th TCG), and former U.S. Marine Corps airlift planner Randolph Hils, attempted to open a dialog with Ambrose to correct errors they cited in D-Day, which they then found had been repeated from the more popular and well-known Band of Brothers. Their frustration with his failure to follow through on what they stated were promises to correct the record, particularly to the accusations of general cowardice and incompetence among the pilots, led them to detailed public rejoinders when the errors continued to be widely asserted, including in a History Channel broadcast April 8, 2001. As recently as 2004, in MHQ: The Quarterly of Military History, the misrepresentations regarding lack of night training, pilot cowardice, and TC pilots being the dregs of the Air Corps were again repeated, with Ambrose being cited as its source.

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