6 June 1944 Crash Sites – Legends
by Patrick Elie and Philippe Nekrassoff
42 USAAF Douglas C-47s did not return from the
missions of 6 and 7 June 1944.
They were shot down by German flak and crashed, made a forced landing
in the Cotentin peninsula, or ditched in the Channel.
The locations of these crashes on the mainland are, for the vast
majority of them, localized and especially confirmed. However, confirmation
of the loss site, serial number, and crew for two aircraft appears
to have never been done completely, nor we believe, accurately.
Who initially claimed and offered the correlation between a crash
location and the aircraft, or which sources were used has been lost
to history, but we will see that in the following two instances,
that correlation appears to be wrong.
1 – C-47A-15-DK
#42-92868 – Sainte Mere Eglise
This well-know aerial photo, taken June 8, 1944, shows the trace
of a crash on the right side of the N/S road, located south of Sainte
Having, like others, researched information about this trace, we
have heard many times that it’s the aircraft flown by Lieutenant
Roycraft and his 313th TCG crew.
Facing so much insistence and assurance we had finally agreed on
this statement... for the time being!
Lieutenant Roycraft’s aircrew consisted of :
- 1st Lt. Roycraft, William R. (P)
- 1st Lt. Shipley, Robert F. (CP)
- 2nd Lt. Romney, Walter R. (N)
- Sgt. Geyer, Roy W. (RO)
- T/Sgt. Schumacher, Martin R. (CC)
In order to confirm or deny what is known about this crash, we asked
for the IDPFs (Individual Deceased Personnel File) for these crew
members. We have received and read them, 325 pages for the entire
crew. And among these 325 pages, parts from two of them caught our
attention, answered our questions, and ‘twisted a Legend's
The first item of interest was that of Lieutenant Romney, Navigator
aboard the C-47, which included an extract from a death report for
three members of the crew, pilot Roycraft, co-pilot Shipley, and
crew chief Schumacher.
'Report of Burial' found also in the IDPFs give the cause of death.
Three crew members bodies washed ashore from the English Channel
– not well inland as conventional wisdom has led us
to believe for decades.
The Veterans Administration also wrote the following to the Navigator's
wife, Lieutenant Romney, in 1951.
These official documents
confirm that Lieutenant Roycraft's C-47 did not crash south of Sainte
Mere Eglise, but into the Channel and that the crew's bodies were
found on a beach few weeks later.
2 – C-47A-75-DL #42-100876 –
Multiple books, websites, and monuments contend that Lieutenant
Marvin Muir's C-47 had crashed near Isle Marie, between Chef du Pont
and Pont l'Abbe.
This most common photo is used to support the claim:
In fact, this photo doesn't tell us much except
the serial number of the C-47, which we’ll call ‘876.’
We are curious about the location and would like to have more evidence,
which may seem logical.
The Internet and the possibilities of modern communication allow
us to obtain other photos, including aerial photos, that we can
cross-analyze and sometimes, find evidence that will confirm or
refute an old statement taken for granted by many people, authors
If we look at the information displayed on the
map of the monument at Picauville (notwithstanding the wrong tail
letter), Marvin Muir's aircraft crashed near l'Isle Marie.
So, like the C-47 that crashed south of Ste Mere
Eglise, we started looking for a track on the aerial photographs
taken on June 6th or the following days..
Following photographs were taken on June 6th
or on June 8th
These photographs are of course zoomable, and others
are also available ... but there is no trace of a plane. Remember
that the initial photograph shows aircraft ‘876’ on
ground that is dry as far as the woodline in the distance,
and these pictures show that Isle Marie is completely surrounded
A plane crashed in one of these photographs would have been spotted,
and for a good reason.
By zooming in on one of these photos, we clearly see the wreck of
#43-15101 flown by Raymond Howard and shot down during mission Chicago.
It is just east of Isle Marie, in the water.
There is no doubt for us - if Muir's aircraft was
in the immediate vicinity of Isle Marie, we would see it, especially
since in the initial photograph, there seems to be the signs of
a major crash in a dry field that seems quite large.
We extended our research towards Picauville, Chef du Pont and Beuzeville
la Bastille for which aerial photos are also available.
Nothing, not a trace! We did not find anything.
Then, we managed to get more photos taken on the ground which,
after a careful observation, also turned out to be Marvin Muir's
How did we determine that it was the same aircraft
on these different pictures? Very simple, just look at the shapes
of the trees to realize that we are in the same field as the picture
The extensive observation of two shots also allowed us to detect
an important element: The wing of the aircraft, located between
the yellow arrows in the following photos.
The black and white invasion stripes are clearly
visible and we can also determine that the leading edge is facing
the photographer. The de-icer shoe is also visible on the photo.
It should not be painted and the white stripe stopped just before
The discovery of the wing and its position in these shots reminded
us immediately of an aerial photo where a wing is clearly visible
and where we are sure it is a C-47 .....
Zooming on the part that interests us can reveal elements.
On the zoom we can see that the leading edge of
the wing, from its dihedral, is on the left . The wing is upside
down because, in the photo, we can discern the trace of the painted
star on the underside of the right wing only. Another element to
assert that it is the right wing: Years later HJR has found at this
place an intact C-47 wing tip with, at its end, the green navigation
light always present on right wings.
Taking a photograph between the point of impact and the empennage
or between the empennage and the wing will give a result identical
to the photographs presented above.
We have also requested the IDPFs for the five aircrew
members and for the paratrooper who stayed on board and was killed
also during the crash. When we will receive them it will bring more
information to add on this research.
All these observations
allow us to affirm that the C-47 crashed at the south entrance of
Sainte Mere Eglise is C-47 #42-100876 belonging to the 93rd Troop
Carrier Squadron - 439th Troop Carrier Group piloted by 2nd Lieutenant
Marvin F. Muir and his crew.
Also mis-information must no longer be
disseminated across the Internet or, worse, on the monument to lost
aircraft in Picauville.
Tail letter is not « R » as we can read on many websites
which picked up information without checking it but « O »
as shown in MACR n° 7289.
49th TCS - 313th TCG
93rd TCS - 439th TCG
Radio Operator :
Crew Chief :
1st Lt. Roycraft, William R. (O-729243)
1st Lt. Shipley, Robert F. (O-669624)
2nd Lt. Romney, Walter R. (O-807313)
Sgt. Geyer, Roy W. (36351713)
T/Sgt. Schumacher, Martin R. (16037695)
2nd Lt. Muir, Marvin F. (O-541641)
2nd Lt. Bell, Kenneth C. (O-705291)
2nd Lt. Marisay, John A. (O-697894)
Sgt. Snyder, Philip. (13081009)
S/Sgt. Burgess, Clifford L. (14140642)
Sgt. Ervin, Simmie C. (39531003) 506 PIR 2HQ
To recap our findings, we believe clear and convincing photographic
evidence proves that these two aircraft and their crews have been
mis-located, and in order to honor the memory of the young airmen
lost in the Liberation, the historical record must be corrected.
If you have other photographs or documents about these two
aircraft or their crews, feel free to contact
We are open to any discussion, remarks or additional elements that
may be added to the file.
© Patrick Elie - Philippe Nekrassoff - January 2018
Thanks to Brian Siddall, Bob Leicht and Neil Jones for their help.
Photographs are from privates collections, aerial
photographs are from National
Collection of Aerial Photography.