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Thread: Descriptions of Some Parts of D-Day

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    Default Descriptions of Some Parts of D-Day

    As we approach the anniversary of D-Day it is worth remembering the very evocative description of the eve of D-Day in the first two paragraphs of Chapter XII of Chester Wilmot’s incredible book “The Struggle For Europe”. The very finest writing of a great event!! He “went in”, as an embedded BBC War Correspondent, in a later glider lift. T’is a pity he was killed in a Comet prang. He was a considerably better rapporteur than many who subsequently tried to fill his shoes.
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    hello Peter

    Any chance of you sharing these two paragraphs with us all?

    Allan
    Allan Hillman

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    Windows 8 and my OCR program are fighting each other! I'll transcribe the two paras tomorrow - barring local domestic panics!
    Peter
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    From “The Struggle For Europe” by Chester Wilmot, Collins, London, 1952. Acknowledged with thanks
    Chapter XII – Assault From The Sky

    On the evening of June 5th, 1944, as the last glow of twilight was fading from the western sky, six RAF Albermarles were drawn up on the runway of Harwell airfield. Gathered around them, drinking tea and smoking cigarettes, were 60 men of the 22nd Independent Parachute Company, pathfinders who were to guide the 6th British Airborne Division to its landfall behind the Atlantic Wall near Caen. Their faces and equipment were smeared with brown, black and green paint, and over their uniforms they wore camouflaged jumping smocks. Every man was a walking arsenal. They had crammed so much ammunition into their pockets and pouches, and so many weapons into their webbing, that they found it difficult to hitch on their parachute harnesses. Grenades were festooned about them; they had fighting knives in their gaiters and clips of cartridges in the linings of their steel helmets. No man was carrying less than 85 lbs; some more than a hundred, and in addition each had strapped to his leg a 60-lb kitbag containing lights and radar-beacons with which to mark the dropping and landing-zones for the rest of the division.

    These men were the torchbearers of liberation. Like all paratroops they were volunteers, and they had been specially picked and trained for this responsible task, but otherwise there was little to distinguish them from the rest of Montgomery’s force. Beside the leading aircraft were the ten men who were due to land first, at the point of the invasion spearhead, a Berkshire hod-carrier and a toolmaker from Kent, a brick-layer from Edinburgh, a Worcestershire kennelman and a lorry driver from Dumfries, two ‘regulars’, a deserter from the ‘army’ of the Irish Free State and a refugee from Austria, led by a young lieutenant who, when war began, had been in the chorus of a West End musical comedy. Three of them had been at Dunkirk, one had fought in Africa, but the rest were going into battle for the first time.


    “The Struggle For Europe” was (and still may be!) ‘required reading’ for the cadets at Sandhurst, and it remains one of the better histories of the latter parts of WW2
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Thank you Peter

    I wonder how many of the 60 survived D-Day - and how many survived to VE-Day, especially if they took part in the Rhine drop - Operation Varsity.

    Allan
    Allan Hillman

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    Hello,

    Here is Michael Bowyer's brief (and much later), account of the events of 5/6 June 1944:

    Brize Norton and Harwell each accommodated two squadrons for the Normandy landings holding between them 93 Albemarles supplemented by four drawn from No.42 OTU, Hampstead Norris. An hour before midnight on 5 June 1944, three aircraft of No.295 Squadron (P1656, V1740 and V1764) and three of No.570 Squadron (V1617, V1694 and V1814) set off, each carrying 10 paratroopers whose tasks were to place guiding beacons at the three drop zones (DZs) where the main parachute force would land. At DZ 'L' only one team was accurately dropped; at DZ 'N' the sticks were not well positioned; and at DZ 'V' the drops were successful but equipment would not work, which resulted in a scattered Main Force drop.

    See:
    Aircraft For The Many:A Detailed Survey of the RAF's Aircraft in June 1944.
    Bowyer,Michael J F.
    Sparkford:Patrick Stephens Limited,1995.
    pp.113-114

    You will find some biographical detail on Reginald William Winchester (Chester) WILMOT, here:

    http://www.awm.gov.au/people/343.asp

    http://www.awm.gov.au/people/timeline_343.asp

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 5th June 2014 at 01:25.

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    To answer Allan's question, the fatal casualties from 22nd Ind Para Coy were as follows:
    L/Cpl L Howarth
    Major F G Lennox-Boyd
    L/Cpl E D O'Sullivan - and all above on 6 Jun
    L/Cpl E Glen - 7 Jun
    Pte K S Gillum - 9 Jun
    Sgt F Scoging - ditto
    Capt I A Tait - ditto
    Capt R E V de Latour - 20 Jun
    Pte H Allock - 21 Jun
    Cpl C T G Harris - 26 Aug

    There is a famous photo of four officers gathered around an aircraft and checking their watches. de Latour is one of those

    In addition some of the airborne troops being carried in transport aircraft suffered serious casualties as the RAF lost, amongst other aircraft, Stirling EF295 with 16 dead, EJ116 with 27 lost, LJ288 with 26 dead, Dakota KG429 with 22 killed. There were numerous other losses to Stirlings, Dakotas and the occasional Halifax and also serious losses from amongst the gliders.

    It should also not be forgotten that the support to the resistance movements continued with sorties deeper in to France and these were also not without loss.

    Only recently, I found a photograph of 'Airdog Glen'. This was a German Shepherd Dog taken to France and killed with his handler. They are buried together in a CWGC grave.

    Colin Cummings

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    Thank you gentlemen

    Allan
    Allan Hillman

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