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
 

 

Henry C. Hobbs
Captain - Glider Officer - 93rd Troop Carrier Squadron - 439th Troop Carrier Group

I had a great deal of difficulty in getting my Horsa glider off the runway, due to an excessive overload. Even when airborne, the controls were sluggish and the glider tended to « mush ». I had the trim tab fully back. The trip over was uneventful, other than that.

I didn't see the pilot's green light – the signal to cut off, but I had seen previous signals, and I was well aware of the fact that I was getting near the drop area. I was busy looking for landmarks.The glider was so sluggish that I requested the pilot over the intercom to give us an additional 100 feet of altitude, which he did. The cut was at approximately 700 feet. I realized that we were slightly to the south of our course, and I did not recognize the particular fields under me, but I sensed that the tug was commencing a left turn as briefed and knew that I had to cut. I picked out what seemed to be the best field in the vicinity. It had trees (30-40 feet) and hedges or banks (well over 4 feet) around it. The field was shorter than expected- probably six to seven hundred feet long and had from 2-3 feet of water. I tried to slow up my glider as much as possible but found that the stalling speed was around 110. Even at that speed I was unable to level off- the nose kept dropping. Despite my having the stick full back the glider made contact with the ground in a diving angle. As a result the nose came off and I was hurled out.Fortunately the water stopped the glider in what seemed to be about 10 feet, and I was not run over. Neither I, my co-pilot, nor my passengers were seriously injured.

The airborne troops got out immediately and assembled beside a hedge. The was intermittent fire in the vicinity- rifle, mg (light), mortar and 88mm artillery, but none was directed at us, so that we had no casualties. I joined up with the airborne and we proceeded first to the battalion CP. We had landed about 2 miles NE of Boutteville and I estimate the CP was about 4 miles from there in a SW direction. We proceeded across fields and hit the main road S of the field and went along it to the CP. While doing so I noticed a crashed C-47 with only the tail left. The last 3 AC letters were « 065 » and a flight jacket near it with the name « Bacon » was the only identifying feature. In the distance I observed another C-47 but was unable to examine it.

At the battalion CP they ordered me to go to the regimental CP which was about ½ mile due W of crossroad 33 at Les Forges. It was supposed to be in Chef du Pont but was still in enemy hands. I arrived at regimental CP at about 1130 and at their request I, together with other glider pilots carried ammunition until 1730. We then ate and rested until 1930, when we left for the beachhead, along the main road running eastwards. We had been told that the enemy had cut the road earlier in the afternoon, but it was said to be open at the time we took off. We encountered no organised resistance but at times we had to make detours to avoid snipers. I saw only two snipers, but heard shots from a number of others. I watched one sniper hunted and killed by three paratroopers. They took his light mg. We passed about 30 POW who looked scrawny and of varying sizes. Some were very young and others were quite old. I was told that some were only 14 years of age and a good many of them were from conquered nations. The POW were very frightened of the paratroopers because they had been told that the paratroopers took no prisoners. I heard several stories of paratroopers lining up prisoners and shooting them. One paratrooper had on a German lieutenant's uniform and stated that he had made the German take off his uniform and then he had shot him. The paratrooper did not wish to spoil the uniform. The paratroopers were incensed because they discovered, so the story goes, one of their member whom they had left with leg broken by the jump burnt to a crisp by having a gasoline soaked parachute wrapped around him and ignited. In other cases those wounded or incapacitated byt he jump had been stuck with bayonets by the Germans. In revenge the paratroopers were running wild.

I reached the beachhead at 0030, 8 June and reported to Navy CP that I had about 70 glider pilots with me. They knew all about us and treated us in a wonderful fashion. I would like to emphasize this fact, because the Navy certainly did everything they could for us-- including hot meals, cigarettes, etc. The beachhead was a beehive of activity with boats landing incessantly. Despite the enormity of the landings there was no confusion and everyone appeared to be doing his job in accordance with a prearranged plan. Traffic along the roads from the beachhead was well policed and kept open. I had lost a good deal of my equipment in the glider crash but gave what was left, including my M-1 rifle, to some of the infantry landing on the beach who had lost their equipment in a barge which had hit a mine. A good many of the glider pilots did the same.
We spend the night in a LCT and at 1130 transferred to an LST, which is a larger vessel. The latter remained off the beachhead until 2000, 8 June when the convoy started to move towards England. We had wounded and POW aboard. The trip was uneventful. We were confortable and well fed. I think we arrived in the harbour of Portland 0600, 9 June. We did not unload until 1900. At 2000 we arrived at the US Army barracks in Weymouth, and at 2200 left for the 20th RCD. We arrived at Totton 0100, 10 June and left there at 0800. We arrived at a P-38 base at 0830 where we telephoned the base and were picked up by C-47's at 0930, arriving at the base at 1030.

I have a few suggestions : First, care should be taken not to send a glider mission out as overloaded as we were. I think the overload was caused by faulty estimate of the weight of each individual trooper. The basis of 200 pounds per man was exceeded by about 50 pounds. Second, a senior glider pilot who is to fly should look over the area in a plane beforehand in order to obtain a first hand knowledge of the general panorama of the area. Third, the M-1 rifle is too cumbersome and not adapted to the mission. I would prefer, first, a Thompson sub-machine gun, and second, a carbine. Both are compact, easier to carry and just as effective for close range fire. Fourth, the size of the pack should be cut down ; blankets are not necessary. Fifth, all CG gliders should have the Griswold nose. The extra reinforcement will save lives. Sixth, Horsa gliders should be used in fields which are large enough for that type of glider, in other words they need more landing space than CG's.

I had an opportunity of talking with several senior officers of both the parachute and glider troops. The paratroopers were pretty well scattered by the drop, but they seemed well satisfied in that they were for the most part dropped in the same general area and so far as could be ascertained none landed in the sea. They expected to be scattered and were prepared to fight on that basis. The gliderborne officers considered the landings highly successful in that the gliders were well bunched. They were able to assemble readily and were not under heavy fire. Some of the troops lost equipment in crashes but on the whole they assembled well equipped.

Despite the number of crash landings, the glider troops did not suffer heavy casualties and informants thought that well over 90% of the troops landed in condition to fight and from my observation they lost no time in doing so.
The fighting was quite scattered and there were no definite lines. Carentan was still in German hands, as was Chef du Pont. Battles in both places were intense. Ste Mere Eglise had just been taken by the Americans at the time I left the area. Tanks were battling Germans 88mm guns. The northern part of the peninsula was held by the Germans, seaborne troops were pouring in at the Omaha beachhead during my entire stay at the beachhead.

Henry C. Hobbs     (June 13, 1944)

Testimony courtesy Silent Wings Museum through Charles (Chuck) H. Hobbs