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Thread: Piper Cubs over Omaha Beach - D-Day

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    Default Piper Cubs over Omaha Beach - D-Day

    In 1960 Edward Ellsberg (who retired as an American Rear Admiral) wrote a book titled "The Far Shore" and in it he describes how the Overlord Plan was to have 40 Piper Cubs depart the "Near Shore" on D-Day and fly over the assault craft as the boats approached Omaha Beach. Each Cub was to have a British pilot and an American Naval Artillery spotter. The mission was to circle the coast in order to spot muzzle blasts from German artillery, then to radio the coordinates to the Allied Fleet. The Cubs were to then monitor the incoming rounds to get sufficient fire to eliminate the German guns.

    Allied ships had been alerted to not fire at any aircraft on D-Day because they would be Allied. Notwithstanding these orders, as the Cubs crossed the assault craft from behind, the gunners on the assault craft began firing and shot down all 40 of the Cubs.

    I have not seen this story anywhere else and hope to find additional information. Assuming the validity of the account, I would like to know the usual - mission name (if any), briefing details, departure bases, survivors ( and any accounts), casualty statistics, after action reports, etc.


    Thanks for any information.

    Ray Buckberry

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    Ray,

    No Piper Cubs. However, an Air Spotting Pool (ASP) of 159 aircraft was established at Lee-on-Solent for the task. The ASP consisted of:

    (a) No 3 Naval Fighter Wing FAA - 808, 885, 886, 897 Squadrons flying Seafires
    (b) 26 and 63 Squadrons, RAF, flying Spitfires
    (c) 2, 144, 268 Squadrons, RAF, flying Mustangs; but these only operated up to midday on the 6th
    (d) VCS 7 US Navy Squadron flying Spitfires.

    My source is the unpublished AHB Narrative The Liberation of North West Europe, Vol III. It can be accessed on-line at http://www.cms.airpowerstudies.org.u...dyLandings.pdf. I've taken the above from the third paragraph on page 16 and the whole of page 55. There might be something else tucked away, but it's a long document. I'm pretty sure this publication forms the basis of Leigh-Mallory's despatch to Gen Eisenhower as it appears in the London Gazette (http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/UN/U...ette/37838.pdf)

    Brian

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    Ray,

    1. Re (c) above: checking various entries about 144 Squadron on the Internet I can find no record of the squadron ever being equipped with Mustangs.
    2. My second reference above contains practically no detail about spotting operations.

    Brian

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    Hi Brian,

    144 should be 414 Sqdn. At least the ORB mentions a pile of sorties for observation of the naval bombardment that morning.

    Regards,
    Hans

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    Thank you for clarifying that, Hans. Perhaps I should have added to post 2 that the reference was a type-written first draft running to 246 pages plus numerous appendices, containing many hand-written amendments.

    Brian

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    Hello,
    I have seen a picture of a crashed Light aircraft with invasion stripes downed on one of the beaches.
    Also when searching the USN RHINO craft a picture or two of a US light aircraft with invasion stripes on a RHINO being brought ashore shortly after D-Day.
    I wonder if the trials with Swordfish from short floating runways was the early test for these Light aircraft that (I think) may have been used from the USN RHINO's ?

    From Joe Baugher's US Serial Number website I see that at least 8 L-4 Grasshoppers were condemned from the 15th June 44. Perhaps they were involved in the D-Day landings ?

    From what I found -
    I seems that each US Army Group were allotted 10 aircraft for artillery spotting.
    That may account for the aircraft with D-Day stripes having a side code of "Number =0= letter"
    Numbers I have seen in pictures are 29;33;39;44;53;57;63;69;72, these numbers may link to army Group's ?

    Alex
    Last edited by Alex Smart; 31st January 2015 at 21:08.

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    Hi,

    I've just read a report, from where I believe the American Piper Cubs, were transported with Landing Craft Tank.

    U.S.S. THOMAS JEFFERSON
    c/o Fleet Post Office
    New York, N.Y.

    APA30/A16-3
    Serial: 009

    S-E-C-R-E-T 10 June 1944.

    Subject: Narrative Report of Operation ...illegible... the Assault on the Normandy Coast in Seine Bay France, 6 June 1944.


    Excerpt:


    "49 troops, 21 jeeps, and 2 Piper Cubs delivered to beach in LCTs indicated, leaving ship at

    1057 LCT No. 535 8 Jeeps, 12 men
    1107 LCT No. 586 9 Jeeps, 30 men.
    1215 LCT No. 587 4 Jeeps, 2 Piper Cubs, 7 men."

    Regards

    Finn Buch
    Last edited by Argus; 1st February 2015 at 09:32.

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    Strange story, I wonder from where it is coming. Allied naval AA guns certainly shot down a lot of Allied aircraft off Normandy in June 1944, but certainly not a whole formation of 40 ! And they were shot down by the ships anchored or cruising off the beacn, not by the landing craft themselves going to the beach (that were not

    I have found no other mention of Piper Cubs being engaged in such a mission on D-Day. According to your sources, their pilots were British, but in this case they would have been flying Auster, not Piper Cubs. The US Army had enough Piper Cub pilots to not need British pilots.

    Last but not least, 40 Piper Cubs along the landing area of Omaha Beach is really overkill ! They wouldn't have place to turn without running one into another.

    The orders for the Overlord operation were to keep 10 spotter aircraft pairs (of the units listed above, each pair being one spotter aircraft and one escort aircraft) at any time over the assault area between H-1 and H+5. So that mean, 2 pairs per beach at a mean number as any time.

    The report of the Allied Naval Commander-in-Chief, Expeditionary Force, after the operation list 101 spotting mission flown for the whole day and area, 50 being successfull and 51 failing to spot (meaning, not directing naval fire).
    Last edited by Laurent Rizzotti; 1st February 2015 at 09:41.

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    G'day Chaps

    29 Twelfth Army Group, XV Corps Artillery,
    33 - Twelfth Army Group, VII Corps Artillery, 9th Infantry Division
    39 - Twelfth Army Group, 1st U. S. Army, V Corps Artillery
    44 - Twelfth Army Group, XIX Corps Artillery, 30th Infantry Division
    53 - Twelfth Army Group, 3rd U. S. Army, 4th Armored Division
    57 - Twelfth Army Group, 1st U. S. Army, 82nd Airborne Division
    63 - Twelfth Army Group, 9th U, S, Army, Artillery H. Q.
    69 - Twelfth Army Group, XII Corps Artillery
    72 - Twelfth Army Group, 2nd French Armored Division

    Cheers...Chris

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    Thanks to all who have responded - I'm pursuing other sources and will advise as to my results. The official Historian for Piper Aircraft, Roger Peperell (who lives in England) has no information on this story but is checking other sources as well.

    Ray

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