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
 

 

John J. Prince
2nd Lieutenant - Pilot - 303rd Troop Carrier Squadron - 442nd Troop Carrier Group

The 303rd TC Squadron was the second squadron to take off from station 488 just before midnight on 5 june 1944 on mission Neptune carrying paratroopers and bundles to a designated DZ not far from Ste. Mere Eglise on the East side of Cherbourg Peninsula. There were nine (9) planes in V of Vs formation. I was the last plane and was in the left wing position of the last element. My chalk number was « 18 ». I was carrying 16 paratroopers and 5 bundles in pararacks,
All went well until I was approaching the DZ. Four minutes from DZ I put on my warning light. One minute after that a shell which I figured to have been 40mm Caliber hit the plane knocking out the left engine immediately and damaging the right engine so that it began to sputter. I was down at about a thousand feet over the terrain. I began to loose altitude and drop back from the formation. Two minutes later and one minute before reaching the DZ I was at about 700 feet and gave the paratroopers the signal to jump which they did and also released all five bundles. None of the paratroopers or my crew were injured by the flak. I never saw any of the paratroopers again. Based on the time of one minute short of the DZ I figure the troops dropped about five miles West of the target.

THE CRASH LANDING
Since I had only one engine and was unable to maintain speed and keep in formation, I turned to the left as soon as the troops jumped in order to get out over the water. I gained about two hundred feet of highth and went up to about 900 feet but not knowing the exact course I turned to far to the left and it later proved, that I was flying almost due North. About two or three minutes later my right engine cut out leaving me with no power at all and I crashed landed, fortunately in a field. I was in my pilot's seat and the co-pilot was in his seat ; the radio operator was in the ditching position with his back to the liaison set and I believe the crew chief was on the floor in the forward cabin.
After the right engine stopped there was no time for any of us to bail out. Except for a few minor bruises and the chipping of one of Loeb's front teeth, none of us substained any injuries.

The plane did not take fire and we all walked out the door. The right wing was torn off in landing but the fuselage was more or less intact. We immediately destroyed our IFF set by detonating it, our Radar with the ax. Charlton destroyed the bomber code and the colors of the day ; we ate the eatable paper overlays but we did not burn the plane for fear of detection.

We landed about 0245 June 6 1944. We did not know where we were but thought we might be in friendly territory. It later proved that we were near a small village called Montaigu North of Valognes.

THE HIDE OUT
Within three minutes of the time of landing all four of us were out of the plane with our equipment. We took the compass from the plane but no K-rations because the wooden box was not open. We headed for the East coast along a foot path by a creek bed which was dry. Ten or fifteen minutes later we saw three or four men in a nearby field. They ran one way and we ran the other. I don't know whether they were soldiers or civilians. In running away Schultz got separated from us and we never saw him again.
The three of us, Loeb, Charlton and I, found a dry stream bed nearby which was like a rivine and full of brush and weeds. We hid there the rest of that night and slept there all the next day. Later we found a hollowed out bank, sort of a cave, where the three of us could lie down. We stayed there all the rest of the time until yesterday morning, June 21, 1944.

Leaving the plane we each had a full canteen of water, our escape kits and purses and our side-arms, Schultz had a tommy gun with plenty of ammunition, the rest of us had .45 caliber pistols which we kept all the time. We had no blankets, only our clothing and rain coats and were cold at night.

We stood no watches because no one came near us. However one of us was usually awake. For the first two and one half days we did not eat or drink. After that we used the water in the canteens which lasted until the sixth day. For food we opened one escape kit and used the milk tablets. On the sixth day Loeb found a stagnat pool a short distance away and brought back some water which we strained through handerchiefs and drunk after putting halazone tablets into it.

On the eight day Loeb had to go a little further for water and found a French boy about 19 milking a cow. Loeb, seeing he was observed, spoke to the boy, told him he was an American and ask for food and drink. The boy took him to a farm house where he was given eggs, bread and butter and milk. When Loeb told the boy's mother about his companions she gave him a quart of milk and some egg sandwiches to take back.

After this Loeb got food and milk every other day from these people. Charlton and I remained hidden all the time. The boy and his mother proved their friendship the first night when Loeb went out near their house and was motioned away because they had a German Captain at the house.

On the evening of June 20 these French people told Loeb that American soldiers had passed by and gave Loeb some American cigarettes and K-rations. We all came out of hidding then for the first time, went to the French farm house where we were given a good meal. We returned to our hidding place for the night, went back the next morning to the farm, were given a big breakfast and introduced to another French man who took us to the village of Saussemesnil, East and slightly North of Montaigu. At Saussemesnil we contacted American soldiers of the 4th division, I think they were the 12th AA Battalion. They started us on our way through Valognes, Montebourg and on down to Ste Mere Eglise near which we found a landing strip, after seeing two C-47s coming in with their wheels down. Here we met Colonel Roberts of IX TCC who brough us back to Membury. From there the 436th TC Group flew us down here.

Our photographs were taken at Membury by an officer whose name I do not know, but we were not interrogated.

COMMENTS
AIDS BOX : We used the contents of only one aids box because we did not know how long we would have to stay hidden and rationed every thing strickly.

PURSES : We gave the money in one purse to the lady and her son at the farm. The money in another purse we gave to the Frenchman who guided us to the American CP at Saussemesnil even though he was very reluctant to take it.

FRENCH ATTITUDE : The native where we were, were friendly as is shown by their treatment of us. We heard stories from an officer and some paratroopers, all Americans, who we met on the way out.
French women sniping and firing a mortar from a wall at our troops.
These acts were apparently confined to the Southern part of the Cherbourg peninsula.

THE LINE : Yesterday the line was fluid. Our troops were not in contact with german ground forces and did not know just where they were. We were shelling German positions. Germans were shelling our positions near Valognes, along the road between their and Montebourg and south of Montebourg.

BRIEFING : Our briefing on what to do in case of a crash landing was good. We did just what we were told to do and came out all right.

SUGGESTIONS :
1 – Wear winter flying jackets
2 – Take long underwear and extra socks
3 – Have K-rations tied to you or in your clothes
4 – Wear G-I shoes
5 – Take Toilet paper

John J. Prince     (June 22, 1944)