Captain - Pilot - 62nd Troop Carrier Squadron - 314th Troop
Narrative statement of the crew
of A/C #42-93002, 62nd TC Sq, 314th TC Gp, in connection with events
of BIGOT – NEPTUNE #1.
The crew consisted of :
Capt. Charles S. Cartwright – O-731943 – Pilot
F/O Alma M. Magleby – T-926 – Co-pilot
2nd Lt. Edward I. Osborne – O-805327 – Navigator
S/Sgt. Raymond H. Farris – 15114703 – Crew Chief
S/Sgt. Frank A. DeLuca – 3245328 – Radio Operator
We flew Number 7 position in
our first serial on this mission, leading the third element of the
first squadron. We reached the DZ in formation and have nothing
to add to the mission report up to that time. Approaching the DZ
our air speed was between 105 and 110 mph, altitude indicated 700
feet. Our altitude was the same as that of the leading element in
On seeing the stick leave the
lead ship we gave the green light, but our stick did not jump. The
jumpmaster, Capt Simmons, instructed the crew chief to tell the
pilot that the plane was too low, and that he would not jump his
men at that height. The intercom was damaged, and the crew chief
could not reach the pilot through it, so passed the message to the
navigator, who relayed it to the pilot.
As soon as the message was received, we went up to 800 feet indicated,
made a right turn, and began a second paas at the DZ. At this time
the jumpmaster had come up to the cockpit to confer with the pilot,
who said to him "Get the hell out, everyone except your stick
has jumped". During this second pass we were hit by explosive
flak - probably 40 mm - two rounds of which went through the plane,
one round narrowly missed Crew Chief Farris, who was at that time
in the door of the companionway, and the other went through the
rear of the fuselage. Paratrooper N° 17 in the stick was hit
by fragments of this flak, which detonated two of the hand grenades
in his pouch, seriously injuring him. We went over the DZ again,
and again the troops did not jump, although they received the signal.
We turned for a third pass, and
this time the navigator told the jumpmaster that there was going
to be a forced landing. The stick went at once, and as it jumped
the aircraft was near the DZ, a short distance south of it, going
in a westerly direction at 750 feet altitude and 110 - 115 mph.
The injured paratrooper, N° 17, did not jump.
Immediately after the jump both
engines went out, either at once or so closely together that it
made no difference. The pilot turned the plane 180 degrees to the
right in an effort to reach the ocean; saw that he would be unable
to do so, and made a further 90 degree turn to the right (putting
the aircraft on a south-westerly heading) hoping to reach the flooded
area to the south of the DZ. The altitude was not sufficient to
reach this area, so the crew took crash positions in the plane and
it was set down in the available open field. On going in it clipped
a row of trees, bordering the field. Both engines were on fire ;
A comparatively smooth belly-landing was made, the plane came to
rest in the middle of the field, and the crew evacuated it with
all speed. The wounded paratrooper got out by himself. The pilot,
the crew chief, and the radio operator carried the paratrooper,
who had collapsed close to the plane, further away, and then the
pilot went back into the plane for a first-aid kit and supplies.
He recovered a kit, but was unable to reach anything else.. Upon
return to the paratrooper, the pilot found that he had his own morphine,
and was asking to have it administered ; this was done by the
co-pilot and navigator.
We then began to carry the paratrooper
toward the hedge bordering the field, which offered the only cover
close by. A short distance had been traversed when the aircraft
exploded. The paratrooper, no unconscious, was placed in concealment
in the hedge, and about 0245 we began travelling south in a zig-zag
line, looking for a place to hide out. About 3/4 of a mile from
the plane a dry ditch covered with brambles was found, and became
the hideout for all of us.
We cannot positively locate the
position of the crashed plane, but believe it was over a mile east
of DZ "N". It was not in the flooded area, and we did
not cross any large streams on our way to the coast, so we believe
the crash was east of the Merderet River, probably in the vicinity
of the village "Coquerie".
About an hour after we had hidden, we heard a voice say "Sprechen
Sie Deutsch?", in an American accent, which was followed by
the sign. We gave the correct counter-sign, and two US paratroopers
- one with a badly injured ankle on which he could hardly walk -
joined us. At dawn the uninjured one left to find his outfit. The
whole crew, with the injured paratrooper, stayed. where it was until
1400 hours on Tuesday 6 June 1944. During these hours we could hear
a variety of firing of all types in all directions. We Identified
from the sound, machine guns, rifles, hand grenades, 88s and other
large German guns, and naval bombardment in the direction of the
At 1400 we turned cautiously
back toward the pIane. Two fields away from it we stopped, and the
co-pilot and crew chief were left in hiding, while the pilot, navigator,
and radio operator went ahead, using a stone wall bordering the
field as partial cover. The navigator finally reached the aircraft,
but except for its tail assembly it was entirely destroyed, and
he could find no food, water, or other supplies. In the meantime
the pilot went to the place where paratrooper N° 17 had been
lett the night before; the spot was located (a flak suit and mae
west had been picked up and carefully concealed in in bushes during
the crew's absence, but the trooper had disappeared. It is our theory
that he had been picked up either by French civilians or by our
own men. As soon as these facts had been ascertains, the three other
crew members re-joined the co-pilot and crew chief two fields away
from the aircraft. After discussion a scouting trip was agreed on.
The navigator went off in a northeasterly direction, the pilot in
a southwesterly one. This was 1545, and an agreement to meet again
in the same place at or before 1745 was made. The pilot approached
a large stone farmhouse, which stood some distance on the other
side of the plane, and observed several French peasants, including
children, who went out to look at the wreck. Deciding it was better
not to communicate with them, he returned to the hiding place, to
find the navigator already returned.
The navigator reported that about
a ten minute walk from the hideout, in an easterly direction, there
was a highway running generally north and south. He also reported
that the sound of heavy guns was quite near along the highway to
the south, although he did not observe any emplacements. He was
afraid to cross this road, feeling sure that it was well posted
by the enemy, so returned to the hideout.
The crew remained in the new
hideout until about 2000 in the evening, when American voices were
heard shouting in the next field. The navigator went out toward
the sound. A few moments later he turned and called for the crew.
When the rest of us crossed to him, he told us that he had met an
old school-mate of his, who was an officer in the outfit, and that
he had arranged for jeep transportation to the beach, We began running
across the field toward our troops, the navigator in the lead, when
someone on our lett front began shooting at us with rifles. We hit
the dirt, and shouted the password. The shooting stopped, the navigator
arose to continue his course, firing broke out again and the navigator
He fell to the ground. A soldier from the 4th Division came toward
us, and yelled at the rest to stop firing.
A first-aid crew came over, examined
the navigator, and discovered him to have been hit in the fleshy
part of the buttocks. There was no wound or exit observable; we
do not know whether any bones were struck, but do not think so,
and do not believe the wound was very serious.
We were then taken to a major
and three lieutenants, leaving the navigator to be removed by stretcher.
These officers apologized for incautious firing by their men. We
got into a jeep with the major and headed for the beach; about 2
1/2 miles from it, travelling along the road, running from the town
of St Mere Eglise (coordinates: 35.2-97.0, 37.2-00, 40.7-03.5 Map
reference sheet 6 E/3 and 6 E/5, France 1:50,000, 3rd edition) the
major turned oft to the left, gave us directions for walking to
the beach, and lett us. Along this road our men were engaged in
digging out snipers, and enemy observation posts, and French civilians
were helping by giving directions, warning of mines, and other aid.
Tanks were coming up along the road from the shore. Our forces from
the beach, incidentally, were apparently already in touch with the
paratroop and glider forces which had landed farther inland. It
was approximately 2030 hours on Tuesday, 6 June 1944, when the major
When we arrived on the beach,
we had trouble making contact with anyone in authority who could
help us, but finally found a Commander, US Navy, who was in charge
of the sector. He put us on a boat and we left the beach about 2300
hours. We reported to the CO of an LCVP lying off shore, and after
spending some time getting the ship off a shoal, travelled in it
about 12 miles to the USS "Bayfield", a headquarters and
hospital ship, where we arrived about 0230 bn the morning of Wednesday,
7 June 1944.
At 0730 that morning we got up,
having been fed and put to bed in the sick-bay on the "Bayfield"
as soon as we arrived. About 0800 - 0830 a colonel arrived with
a rescued P-47 pilot, and we followed him to the USS "Ancon",
another headquarters ship. (This craft was the headquarters for
all that section of the beach, and many generals and admirals were
present upon it, including General De Gaulle, who was observing
the action and broadcasting messages to the French.) From this ship
we transfered - via another LCVP - to LST 75, arriving about 1400
on Wednesday afternoon. This ship began to unload that night and
finished the following moming. At about 2100 hours Thursday 8 June
1944, we left for the UK in a convoy of 40 - 50 ships.
We arrived off Portland about
1400 Friday aftemoon, stayed on board until disembarkation Saturday
morning, 10 June 1944. We then went through two streggler-and-survivor
camps, the second at Weymouth. At the latter, we arrived simultaneously
with 206 US glider pilots, who had just been brought back from the
continent. From here we went to Southampton in trucks, where we
arrived about 1800. The pilot immediately telephone our base and
spoke to Lt. Col. Myer, who sent down at once; Major Falkner and
Capt. Roush picked us up at Stonycross Airfield near Southampton
about 2130 on Saturday, 10 June 1944, and we arrived at our base
about 22.30 the same evening.
While we were on the continent,
we did not observe any engagements with the enemy, although we heard
much firing; we saw some empty gliders in the vicinity of Ste Mere
Eglise, but we did not observe the town itself nor did we see any
of our glider troops.
We found that our troops had
been instructed to shoot at anyone moving around at night, whereas
we bad been advised to hide during the day and do our travelling
at night if we landed in enemy territory. Instructions on such matters
should be coordinated, in order to prevent avoidable injury from
our own troops.