HEADQUARTERS 82D AIRBORNE
DIVISION Advance Command Post
469 - In the Field 11 June 1944
Subject : Report of Pathfinder Employment for Operation "NEPTUNE".
To : Commanding General,
82D Airborne Division
teams of the 505th, 507th and 508th Parachute Infantries were scheduled to be
employed on their respective DZ's at H-30, D Day, in accordance with Field Orders
of these organisations. The Regimental Pathfinder Teams consisted of three
battalion teams composed of two officers, two Eureka operators, one wire man,
seven light men, and from four to six security men. The 507th and 508th Pathfinder
teams had four security men per each battalion assigned from the 504th Parachute
Infantry, plus one officer for each Regimental Team. The 508th Regimental Team,
in addition to the above equipment and personnel, dropped two BUPS beacons plus
the Commanding Officer of the Provisional Pathfinder Company.
regimental pathfinder teams flew in 3-plane flights, in V-formation. Takeoff airdrome
was NORTH WITHAM..
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.
in 505 area were set up as per schedule, Eurekas for glider night landings were
set up thirty minutes prior to landing time. Eurekas for LZ were triggered twenty
minutes prior to landing time. Gliders were generously scattered over LZ area.
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.
commanded by Captain N. L. MC ROBERTS 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 SAN SAUVEUR LE VICOMTE. Flak continued
from SAN 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. To ground observers it appeared
that incoming formations were scattered due to intense anti-aircraft fire. One
large formation was observed dropping approximately one mile directly north. Twenty
planes dropped on DZ with pathfinders. Twenty planes that dropped were approximately
ten minutes late, of the first scheduled serial. No subsequent serials arrived
over DZ. Eureka remained on thirty minutes after time of last scheduled serial.
No strays dropped during that time.
Parachute Infantry sustained no casualties due to enemy action. 508th Pathfinders
lost approximately two-thirds of their enlisted and officer personnel. 507th Parachute
Infantry is missing approximately twenty men. All navigational aids used by pathfinders
were recovered and consolidated in Division CP with the exception of those that
were destroyed to avoid their falling into enemy hands.
future pathfinders operations it is recommended:
either be entirely eliminated or of such construction that they are not visible
from the ground.
That pathfinder teams stress in their training assembly
under difficult terrain conditions at night.
That the size of pathfinders
teams be considerably lessened.
That security personnel be dispensed with.
Air Corps pilots and crews be trained to much a degree that formations will be
maintained in spite of intensive enemy anti-craft fire.
That the BUPS
Beacon, both antenna and receiver-transmitter set, be modified in a more compact
unit for jumping.
M. L. MC ROBERTS Captain, Infantry 82d
A/B Div Pathfinders.