Men of D-Day


    
 Troop Carrier
Michael N. Ingrisano
Robert E. Callahan
Benjamin F. Kendig
John R. Devitt
Arthur W. Hooper
Ward Smith
Julian A. Rice
Charles E. Skidmore
Sherfey T. Randolph
Louis R. Emerson Jr.
Leonard L. Baer
Robert D. Dopita
Harvey Cohen
Zane H. Graves
John J. Prince
Henry C. Hobbs
John C. Hanscom
Charles S. Cartwright
 
 82nd Airborne
Leslie Palmer Cruise Jr.
Marie-T Lavieille
Denise Lecourtois
Howard Huebner
Malcolm D. Brannen
Thomas W. Porcella
Ray T. Burchell
Robert C. Moss
Richard R. Hill
Edward W. Shimko
 
 101st Airborne
John Nasea, Jr
David 'Buck' Rogers
Marie madeleine Poisson
Roger Lecheminant
Dale Q. Gregory
George E. Willey
Raymond Geddes
 
 Utah Beach
Joseph S. Jones
Jim McKee
Eugene D. Shales
Milton Staley
 
 Omaha Beach
Melvin B. Farrell
James R. Argo
Carl E. Bombardier
Robert M. Leach
Joseph Alexander
James Branch
John Hooper
Anthony Leone
George A. Davison
James H. Jordan
Albert J. Berard
Jewel M. Vidito
H. Smith Shumway
Louis Occelli
John H. Kellers
Harley A. Reynolds
John C. Raaen
Wesley Ross
Richard J. Ford
William C. Smith
Ralph E. Gallant
James W. Gabaree
James W. Tucker
Robert Watson
Robert R. Chapman
Robert H. Searl
Leslie Dobinson
William H. Johnson
 
 Gold Beach
George F. Weightman
Norman W. Cohen
Walter Uden
 
 Juno Beach
Leonard Smith
 
 Sword Beach
Brian Guy
 
 6th Airborne
Roger Charbonneau
Frederick Glover
Jacques Courcy
Arlette Lechevalier
Charles S. Pearson
 
 U.S.A.A.F
Harvey Jacobs
William O. Gifford
 
Civils
Philippe Bauduin
Albert Lefevre
René Etrillard
Suzanne Lesueur
 

 

Leonard L. Baer
2nd Lieutenant - Navigator - 88th Troop Carrier Squadron - 438th Troop Carrier Group

I was the navigator of plane #42-92894, piloted by Second Lt. Samuel S. Cromie, co-pilot Second Lt. Floyd Bennett, crew chief S/Sgt. John Holton and radio operator Sgt. Joseph M. Kozik.

We came into our LZW with no difficulty and cut our glider. I saw a C-47 plane burning near the center of LZW. As we turned we came out at five hundred feet. We then went down on the deck to about seventy-five to a hundred feet.
Just as we hit the deck I saw the co-pilot tilt his head and duck, and I heard noise in the right engine. The pilot said, « Feather right engine ! ». Both the co-pilot and myself slammed our hands up to feather the engine. At the time I was standing behind the pilot. The pilot opened up the other engine and it immediately coughed and sputtered. The pilot shouted to us to prepare for a crash. I turned around to the crew chief behind me and pushed both him and the radio operator into the main cabin. I ran back with them and placed my feet against the bulkhead behind the navigators table. Before I got flat on the floor we hit a tree and the jolt flattened at on the floor.
Prior to hitting I noticed sparks coming from the right engine. We bounced off the trees and jolted three times and then slid into the ground. As soon as the plane stopped I looked back and saw daylight in the plane. The whole tail assembly was knocked off. I crawled out of the plane. The right wing was knocked off. The left wing was knocked off near the engine. The tail was broken off, and the nose was pushed in on the co-pilot's side.
I stood up and saw the pilot come out through the cabin. He immediately said that Second Lt. Bennett was missing. I went around to the front of the plane and saw Second Lt. Bennett on a stretcher with four paratroopers.
I heard a sing and a paratrooper told me to keep my damned head down. They than asked us if we had any weapons on board the ship. One of the paratroopers came out of the ship with one of our Tommy guns. He thanked us for it. There were about twenty-five paratroopers around the ship and they were shooting into the trees at snipers.

Our plane went down about two miles North of Reuville on course directly five miles from the beach. The time the plane crashed was at 2131.42 hours. I determined this time from my watch which was stopped.
I ordered the paratroopers to destroy the plane. I understand that the pilot also gave the same instructions. The pilot went to the 502nd paratrooper command post. I followed as soon as I determined that the ship was destroyed.
Upon arriving at the command post I found that all of our crew was there. We secured first aid for the co-pilot. We stayed at the command post until a truck came by to take the co-pilot down to the field hospital. We all went to the hospital, one-half mile directly behing Green Beach in the truck. At the hospital we got the co-pilot taken care of and then we took blankets and laid down on the ground.
The field hospital was very crowded with wounded men ; many of them lying around in fields on stretchers. We were told by one of the Doctors, that they had over a thousand parachute casualties. There were about four hundred wounded men out in the opening.
While I was lying on the ground near the hospital I saw several groups of C-47's coming in towing Horsa gliders. Three planes crashed.
As far as I could observe, no plane was hit until after dropping gliders. When the planes went to the deck, they were hit by small arms fire from snipers hidden in the trees. A glider pilot near me said, « God, why doesn't someone tell those fellows to stay up high ? ». This was about 0700 hours.

In the morning we were told that we would be evacuated at high tide at 1000 hours. At 0950 hours, five F.W. 190's hit the beach with one bomb, and straffed the road leading to the beach. A squadron of P-51's followed by spitfires, about 20 or 30. And in the distance P-38's came in and chased off the enemy planes. The last I saw of them, one was smoking. After this we were turned back from the beach, and told that we would have to wait until next high tide.
After being told we would have to wait until the next tide to be evacuated, we went to the hospital. I talked with one of the doctors, a Major. He told me that our co-pilot would be well taken care of. I filled my canteen with water and got a D ration and put them under the co-pilots pillow within easy reach. I wen to the beach to see if I could be evacuated with the radio-operator..
In the meantime the pilot and crew chief disappeared at 10:00 o'clock and I assumed they had got on a boat at high tide. I went to the Green Beach command post and as soon as they found I wanted to get back to England, they gave me a pack of film and told me to rush it to APO #887 ETOUSA. A naval officer told me that this film was of urgent importance.
This naval officer ordered an LCVP to pick us up. It grounded after I got on it. Then they got a Duck (amphibious vehicle) for us. I had been in water up to my belt for two and one-half hours trying to get on boats. The duck took us to an LCI boat. On the boat they fed us supper and took us to an LST boat. I left the beach about 1630 hours 7 june 1944.
The LST boat took us to Southampton. There I contacted an officer and told him I had important films. They rushed me to the signal office.
There they interrogated me ; thanked me and took the films which they said were important. I was then turned over to Ninth AAF Hdqs. And found a Captain who drove me home.
While on the LST I met Captain Adams, 53rd wing, who said he was Captain Cawthon's co-pilot. He said when the glider hit the ground, the side near Captain Cawthon was smashed in and Captain Cawthon was cut slightly.
Just as they climbed out of the glider a German mortar opened up.Captain Adams jumped into a shell hole. A Major, a medical officer, was killed instantly. Captain Adams said that he and Captain Cawthon were the only ones not injured seriously. Captain Cawthon was taken prisoner.

I believe that I and the entire crew owe our lives and safety to the great courage, coolness and presence of mind of our pilot, Second Lt. Cromie. He took decisive action with split-second timing. He issued precise and clear orders to all of us, which enable us to do all things necessary for our safety, and which did much to help us to function intelligently, and quickly in the few seconds we had in wich to act before we crashed.

This statement consists of four pages which I have read and signed. I certify the statements to be correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.

Leonard L. Baer