paratroopers and gliders

Nov

12

1943

German paratroopers attack island of Leros


12th November 1943: German paratroopers attack island of Leros

The first salvo had scored a direct hit – it left a gaping hole in the side of this building. This is where the two of us made our dramatic escape once again. After a moment, we had gone just 50 to 100 yards, when a voice in the darkness shouted “Halt! Who goes there?” A great relief seemed to come over me. “Go to the front of the column!” When we reached the front we were escorted to a cave, where a Lieutenant Colonel, or maybe a higher ranking officer, gave us a good interrogation.

Sep

5

1943

US 503rd PIR in the Big Fire Fight of Gabsohnkie


5th September 1943: US 503rd PIR in the Big Fire Fight of Gabsohnkie

There was another incident that further convinced me that the Japs were all around us trying to infiltrate and this one was about 15 to 20 feet to my immediate left oblique. I guess it was about 2:00 or 3:00 AM 6 Sept 1943 when I heard a loud thud as if something or someone had (thrown) a heavy object to the ground and this was followed by some loud grunts and cussing. Man this is it! Japs done got into one of my buddies’ fox holes. I waited and continued to count Japs as they crossed in front of me and sporadic fire continued from the direction of the 2nd Bn C.P.

Jul

14

1943

Parachute assault on the Primasole Bridge


14th July 1943: Last minutes before the drop into Sicily

I saw what seemed to be a galaxy of coloured globes floating leisurely above the land. They peeled away from a dark mass, which I took to be a hill, and danced towards us like a swarm of angry bees rising from an upturned hive. They curved over, coming faster every second, then they were flaming comets roaring and crackling about the plane in streaks of light. We were running through the curtain of light flak – an interlocking apron of tracer shells flicking up in intricate patterns of gold, red and white.

Mar

24

1945

Operation Varsity: Glider attack across the Rhine

We were not equipped to deal with German heavy tanks. Indeed, the anti-tank guns that we did possess, six-pounders which could dispose of even a Tiger at close range, were almost certainly still within the Hamilcar gliders used to transport our heavier equipment. The concentration of enemy fire over the landing zones would have made it virtually impossible for such weapons to be removed. Most men were just thankful if they were able to crawl away from their gliders and find some sort of shelter from the incoming German fire.

Jan

7

1945

Battle of the Bulge – the 82nd Airborne attacks

Technical Sergeant Eddie C. Heibert, H Company, was a rieman in Murphy’s platoon. The following is his account of that action: “One of our two supporting TDs struck a Teller mine and was knocked out about 800 yards from the town. Six of our men were killed or wounded. At this point, enemy machine guns opened up on us and we were pinned to the ground. I saw Lieutenant Murphy crawl forward for about 50 yards under a curtain of murderous machine gun fire and call for the remaining TD to come up to him. The TD silenced two of the enemy machine guns.”

Jan

3

1945

Battle of Bure – Paratroopers v Tiger Tanks

Our numbers were getting very depleted as we moved forward from house to house. I eventually got to the village crossroads by the old church. In the meantime I had informed my C.O. exactly what was going on, and he decided to send in “C” Company, who were in reserve, to support me. By that time their 60 ton Tiger tanks started to come in on us. It was the first time I had seen Tigers, and now here they were taking potshots, demolishing the houses. I moved from one side of the road to the other deliberately drawing fire. A tank fired at me and the next thing I knew the wall behind me was collapsing. But, a PIAT team came running out, got within 50 yards of the tank, opened fire and smashed the tank’s tracks. They were very brave.

Dec

22

1944

US Commander in Bastogne : “NUTS” to Surrender

There is only one possibility to save the encircled U.S.A. Troops from total annihilation: that is the honorable surrender of the encircled town. In order to think it over a term of two hours will be granted beginning with the presentation of this note. If this proposal should be rejected the German Artillery Corps and six heavy A.A. Battalions are ready to annihilate the USA troops in and near Bastogne.

Dec

19

1944

Screaming Eagles of 506th PIR arrive in Bastogne

Men were left at appointed posts to guide any others who might find their way back. Orders came out to hold the village at all costs. Strong points were lined around the northern section of the village. In buildings and good protection the men of the Company built their strong points.

Sep

25

1944

Evacuation of the surviving troops from Arnhem

As I looked around I saw tired faces everywhere, grimy, proud, undefeated faces and I wanted to cry. I didn’t recognise anybody and I had no idea how many others had made it. We had all been through so much together. Everywhere I looked I saw the eyes of men who had seen too much, given too much. Everywhere I looked I saw a hero. But for every man that had escaped many more had died, been wounded or captured and they had no one to tell their story.

Sep

24

1944

The casualties mount inside Oosterbeek

‘How is it with you ?’ I shouted. He shouted back ‘My leg is broken.’ I wriggled my own injured leg about. It worked. Something would now have to be done about his. There was a dull, singing little pain in my middle, as perhaps the nose cap of whatever it was that had burst had bounced up and hit me there. I looked around the safe and friendly little trench, reluctant to leave it for the chill, hostile world outside.