Paratroopers from both the British and American drops had been widely dispersed during the early hours of the morning of the 6th. Many men had been injured and efforts were made to establish aid stations in farm houses and even in the open fields. There was as yet no clearly defined ‘front line’ in many areas.
Surgeon Hugh Caumartin with the 2nd Battalion of the 506th was one of many medics who had been wounded themselves but who nevertheless carried on with their task of helping others.
I was hit twice on the drop, once in the nose – and I worried about what my wife would think when I returned without a nose. Before I could worry further, I was hit in one leg. I hit the ground hard – there was no support in that leg. The enemy was firing on the field in which I dropped.
Machine guns were sending streams of tracers in crossfire only a few feet over my head. I lay there trying to survey the situation. Others were dropping into the same field and the surrounding area. They were being hit and hurt.
A young trooper named Martinez from New Orleans came crawling up. He had been hit and needed assistance. I was in considerable pain, so I gave myself a syrette of morphine. We crawled off the field to a defilade near a hedgerow.
I treated and bandaged Martinez, who had been hit in the head. It was a superficial wound which had creased his skull. My leg was bleeding so we put a tourniquet on it and later a splint. Martinez was ambulatory so I sent him out to bring in the jump-injured and the wounded. He would bring them in, some were bad, some were superficial and I did what I could for them. We collected a sizable group.
I followed the rules of the Geneva Convention throughout. I figured our chances would be better. I had the men cache all weapons in the hedgerows. We set out our lightly wounded men as scout observers. Our aid station remained in the field. Our Red Cross flag was placed in view near the men.
We remained in the field for two days. On the second day, a German patrol came by. There was no firing. They had noted the flag and the officer in command spoke excellent English. He asked, ‘Who is in charge here?’ The men pointed me out. I explained that all the weapons had been cached and all of my people were injured and wounded.
He asked if we needed anything. I said I was in need of medical supplies. He didn’t have any to spare, but did say he would inform the local farmers to bring us food and wine. As I spoke French fluently, we had already made such arrangements with the people and had been supplied with both.
The German officer chatted with me for some time. I learned he had worked in New Orleans for two years before the war and yearned to get back there again. After informing us our troops would reach us the next day, he began to move off. He stopped for a moment and called back, ‘War is Hell!’ Then he marched off with his men. Soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division reached us the next day.
This is one of many personal accounts by men of the 101st Airborne, collected by George Kosimaki who served as the radioman for General Maxwell Taylor on D-Day and after.