paratroopers and gliders

Sep

19

1944

Arnhem becomes a desperate battle for survival

Later in the same day Captain Queripel found himself cut off with a small party of men and took up a position in a ditch. By this time he had received further wounds in both arms. Regardless of his wounds and the very heavy mortar and Spandau fire, he continued to inspire his men to resist with hand grenades, pistols and the few remaining rifles.

Sep

18

1944

Second wave drop into Arnhem meets deadly reception

For a split second the wooshing stops and then KERBOOM!

The mortar shell explodes nearby, followed by several more incoming shells. Dirt and smoke are thrown up into the air but, as suddenly as it started, the firing ceases. Through the falling dirt and choking smoke, A lone soldier can be heard screaming for help. Moss looks up from his hiding place and sees the soldier covered in blood, screaming in agony. A couple of Medics run to his aid. Slowly, the rest of the soldiers emerge and resume their places in the static column. It’s as if nothing happened.

Sep

17

1944

Market Garden: Allied airborne attack into Holland

However, there was no delay, and as we passed their old positions we found two lorries and three motor-cars in various stages of destruction, also an untidy little bunch of dead and wounded Germans. It seemed a pity that the vehicles were now unusable, but there had been no time to arrange a road-block. It was however a very encouraging start. Approximately thirty Germans, including officers among them, and valuable transport, accounted for without loss to ourselves.

Jun

14

1944

US infantry v Fallschirmjäger in the ‘bocage’

Picking myself up to brush off my uniform, I saw a strange and shocking sight. On the edge of the ditch lay a German forearm. Part of the uniform sleeve was there, with the elbow, arm, hand, and all fingers intact. I wondered what had happened to the rest of that poor bastard. I never did find out.

Jun

6

1944

2100: 21st Panzer abandon counter-attack

From here the excellent anti-tank gunfire of the Allies knocked out eleven of my tanks before I had barely started. However, one battle group did manage to bypass these guns and actually reached the coast at Lion-sur-Mer, at about seven o’clock in the evening. I now expected that some reinforcements would be forthcoming to help me hold my position, but nothing came. Another Allied parachute landing on both sides of the Orne, together with a sharp attack by English tanks, forced me to give up my hold on the coast.

Jun

6

1944

2000: Second wave of glider troops depart

Later that evening, about 9.30 to 9.45 p.m. (I remember we had a marvellous sunset), I went up on the balcony by myself and listened to the lapping of the waves. Suddenly the drone of aircraft could be heard – the tugs were on their way home. It was a very poignant moment.
I remember tears pouring down my face as I thought of all those young men who were now in France – wondering what was happening to them – was my brother amongst them. It was a very sad moment and one I will never forget.

Jun

6

1944

0230: 82nd Airborne fly into the cloud bank

A few minutes inland we suddenly went into cloud, thick and turbulent. I had been looking out the doorway, watching with a profound sense of satisfaction the close-ordered flight of that great sky caravan that stretched as far as the eye could see. All at once they were blotted out. Not a wing light showed.

Jun

6

1944

0215: German 7th Army still undecided

Motor noises can be heard from the sea on the east coast of Cotentin. Admiral of the Channel Coast reports ships spotted in the sea around Cherbourg. Chief of Staff suggests attaching the 91st Airborne Division. Chief of Staff of Army Group B judges that at present it is still a local affair. Chief of Staff is of the opinion that it is a major action.

Jun

6

1944

0130: Operation Tonga – 6th Airborne parachute in

When the dispatcher (RAF) bawled ‘Red On’ followed by ‘Green On’, then ‘Go, go, go,’ we went through the aperture as fast as possible. We were going in about 500ft, and it was essential to have a fast dispatch to ensure that we would be closer together on the ground.
It was a moonlit night with some light cloud. I had quite a good descent, landing a bit heavily but safely in a corn field with stalks up to my waist. There was a real danger for us at this point of being shot at by one of our mates, so a simple code system had been devised, the first day being ‘Ham’ to be answered by ‘Egg’, the next day ‘Bread’ and ‘Butter’.

Jun

6

1944

0016: Operation Deadstick – Pegasus Bridge

Quite suddenly and unexpectedly the pilots said, ‘Christ, there’s the bridge,’ and they put the nose of the glider down very steeply. The next thing I knew was that there were sparks coming from the skids underneath, they didn’t have wheels, and I thought these sparks were actually enemy fire but they were in fact the skids striking the ground.