U.S. Airborne in Cotentin Peninsula



APO 472 - U. S. Army
 1 July 1944
Subject : Report of D-Day Pathfinder Activities.

To          : Commanding General, 101st A/B Div.
1.Submitted herewith report of Pathfinder activities of Four (4) teams on D-Day.
 Composition :
    Four Pathfinder Teams of eleven sticks as follows:
    For DZ "A" - Team A consisting of Stick 1, 502nd Parachute Inf., Lt., S. W. McCarter, Jumpmaster and containing 1 Off and 2 EM, security personnel, 1 Off and 2 EM, Reg't S-2 personnel; Stick 2, 502nd Parachute Inf., Lt. N. A. LaVallee, Jumpmaster and containing 1 Off and 7 EM security personnel. Officer in this case was asst. Regt. S-3; Stick 1, 377th Prcht F.A. Bn., Lt. R. G. Smith, Jumpmaster and containing 1 Off and 7 EM security personnel from the 502nd Prcht. Inf.
    For DZ "C" - Team C consisting of Stick 2, 506th Parachute Inf., Lt. G. O. Rothwell, Jumpmaster and containing 1 Off and 7 EM security personnel; Stick 1, 506th Parachute Inf, Lt. R. M. Kessler, Jumpmaster and containing 1 Off and 7 EM Security personnel and Stick 3, 501st Parachute Inf and containing 2 Off and 7 EM security personnel.
    For DZ "D" - Team D consisting of Stick 1, 501st Parachute Infantry, 2 Off and 5 EM Security personnel and 1 Off, Asst Reg't S-3, Capt. F. J. Brown, Jumpmaster; Stick 2, 501st Parachute Inf and containing 1 Off and 7 EM security personnel; Stick 3, 506th Parachute Inf., WOJG Dillburn, Jumpmaster and containing 1 Off and 6 EM security personnel.
    For LZ "E" - Team E consisting of Stick 3, 502nd Parachute Infantry, Lt. D. C. Driver, Jumpmaster and Stick 2, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Bn., Lt. L. J. Hensley, Jumpmaster.

Capitulation :
    All teams took off from North Witham Airbase starting at 2150 June 5, 1944 at five (5) minute intervals.
    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.

At approximately 0025 seven lights and three Eurekas had been assembled with Lt. McCarter, Lt. Smith, and 14 enlisted men.

Lt. McCarter was put in charge of the Eurekas and established all three in trees in the hedgerow adjoining the church at 393-994. The "T" lights were installed approximately 200 yards east of this position. One Eureka was turned on at 0030. First reception was received at approximately 0045. Lights were turned on at 0040. First aircraft flew over the T at approximately 0057. Groups were scattered and flying fast with the majority of ships dropping parachutists west and north of the position. Some parachutists were dropped east and some south of the T.

First person contacted from 502nd Parachute Infantry was Capt. Hershner of Co. I and then some enlisted men of Company I. Elements of the 1st Bn. 502nd were also contacted and several men of the 1st Battalion moved to the lights.

All lights and Eurekas remained on until approximately 0310 at which time the unit assembled at the church at St. Germain. Some jump injuries had been collected and these were hidden in the rear of a house at St. Germain and the balance of the unit moved with Capt. Plitt, Capt. Hershner, Lt. Burns (Co. I) and approximately 150 enlisted men towards St. Martin-de-Varreville. Upon approching the position, Capt. Plitt was placed in charge of the main force and Capt. Lillyman and Private Wilhelm moved forward to the position for reconnaissance. Upon discovering the position was almost completely demolished and apparently no enemy on the position, the two returned to where Capt. Plitt was waiting and informed him of this fact.

The undersigned then collected the Pathfinder personnel and moved back to St. Germain to collect the Eurekas and injured men who had been hidden. On moving north down the road, contact was established with Lt. Col. Cassidy and a small force and it was agreed to establish the road block at CR393-994 for the 1st Battalion until they returned. CP was established at St. Germain, road block of one mortar 60mm, three LMG's and one .03 rifle grenade established at the CR facing north and NE. OP was established in the church steeple at St. Germain.

At 0640 a squad of the 1st Battalion came down to this position and the weapons were turned over to this squad. The Pathfinders were then assembled and movement started toward the 502nd CP at Loutres. Four Eurekas were left at St. Germain with one officer and five enlisted men who had sustained jump injuries. These men were hidden in the church along with four of the Eurekas. Unit arrived at 502nd Regimental CP at approximately 0800 and remained there until approximately 1000 when movement was started for Division CP. Unit arrived at Division at approximately 1300.

This team assisted in the marking of the glider LZ at 2100 June 6th.

    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.

Lt. Kessler, reporting as Primary Stick states thet he was dropped at 0027 and both he and the other stick immediately subjected to enemy fire. Within ten minutes (0037) 2 Eurekas, 2 Lights and the Receiver-Transmitter of the Bups Beacon had been assembled.

Both Eurekas were set up with one transmitting and one standing by and operators report reception.

An effort was made to locate the power unit and antenna of the Bups Beacon without success. Being unable to form a T of lights, one light was set up in the middle of the field adjacent to the point at which Lt. Kessler's stick had dropped and was coded with assigned letter until 45 minutes after the last serial was due. By the time the serials had arrived, the balance of the stick had assembled on the light. Of Lt. Kessler's stick, all personnel were moved to Division CP except Pvt. Bert who was assigned to General TAYLOR as bodyguard and two enlisted men who are MIA. Of Lt. Faith's stick, one enlisted man was killed before he could get out of his parachute harness and one enlisted man is MIA.

    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.

By this time all echelons of gliders that were in the air had landed and the pathfinder personnel worked from this time until approximately 0800 orienting personnel and removing injured personnel from smashed gliders.

    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.

All Pathfinder personnel at Division CP assisted in marking the Glider LZ near Heisville the night of June 6/44. Eureka was established at 2030 and in operation and transmitting at 2054. Florescent panels were laid at 2030 and Smoke blown at 2057. Eurekas were turned off at 2120.
2.A summary of the reports from the four Team Leaders shows the following:
 On DZ A: Lights and Eureka established and in operation on scheduled time at a point approximately one mile north of intended DZ.

On DZ C: One coded light and Eureka established and in operation on scheduled time at a point approximately 1/4 mile southeast of DZ.

On DZ D: No lights or Eureka established on DZ. Eureka established on line of flight and one and one quarter miles west of DZ.

On DZ E: Eureka established at designated point and lights set up at both designated points on scheduled time.

All Eureka Operators report Eurekas were being triggered (transmitter actuated) prior to scheduled time of arrival of aircraft.

All map references are to Sheet 6 E/5, La Haye du Puits, 1/50,000.


Capt., 502d Prcht Inf.
Division Pathfinder Officer.