D-Day: 313 and 314 TCG
Re: D-Day night drop, 314th and 313th Troop Carrier Groups,
DZ-“N,” pathfinders and Serials 20, 21, 22, 23.
I am researching the drop of the 508th PIR in Normandy on DZ-“N.”
The pathfinder 3-plane “V” staged from N. Witham, Chalk-16, # 42-92843 piloted by Miles, Chalk 17, - #42-93096 piloted by Gaudio, and Chalk 18, #43-15163 piloted by Wood, drop time at 0121. The main serials followed:
Serial-20, 314 TCG, Saltby Airfield to DZ-“N”, drop time 0208;
Serial-21, 314 TCG, Saltby Airfield to DZ-“N”, drop time 0214;
Serial-22, 313 TCG, Folkingham Airfield to DZ-“N” drop time 0220;
Serial-23, 313 TCG, Folkingham Airfield to DZ-“N” drop time 0226.
Re - the pathfinder “V:” was only one (of three) plane equipped with a British “Gee?” Did all three planes jump their sticks on cue from the lead plane? What was the position of the three planes when jumped, how tight a formation (100ft-100ft was SOP)? Note: Ck-16 was supposed to be leading, Ck-18 back left, Ck-17 back right...but some data suggests otherwise.
Re - information from main Serials, 20, 21, 22, 23: I am plotting the drop “footprint” of as many sticks in the main serials as possible, and then mapping those with paratrooper assembly groups and subsequent actions. The first TCG plane (s) Serial-20 (Stiles) reported no lighted “tee” on the DZ and dropped using British “gee” positioning. Two crew-member accounts from TCG planes further back in Serial 20 mention seeing and jumping on a lighted “tee.”
- Are there any crewmembers or accounts from Serials 20, 21, 22, 23 that mention jumping on a DZ “tee?” How many lights? Color?
- Are there accounts from pilots of planes equipped with Rebecca transponders confirming receipt of signals from Eureka on DZ-“N?”
- Are there any accounts of the operation of a BUPS homing device on DZ-“N” during drop of main serials?
- Based partly on my own experience and several accounts, I estimate best case of 20-30 seconds for a stick of 18 loaded paratroopers to clear a plane, no jams in door, refusals, etc. Can anyone confirm this estimate?
Thanks to all for any information. Regards.
Here is a part of the report of pathfinder employment during operation Neptune, about DZ "N"
"6. 508th, commanded by Captain N. L. MC ROBERTS of the 505th Parachute Infantry, Air Corps flight leader, Captain MILES, took off on time, from NORTH WITHAM, made landfall on time, encountering little flak until over SAN SAUVEUR LE VICOMTE. Flak continued from SAN SAUVEUR LE VICOMTE to run in for drop. Anti-aircraft fire shifted from planes to jumpers at time of drop. Drop was on time, approximately one and one-half miles south and slightly east from previously selected DZ. Due to aggressive enemy action on the ground, lights were not able to be turned on with the exception of two; one of which was coded in the predesignated code. BUPS Beacon was set up and operating twenty minutes prior to arrival of first scheduled serial. One Eureka was set up and operating twenty minutes prior to first scheduled serial. Eureka was triggered approximately twelve minutes prior to drop time. BUPS Beacon was receiving definite tuning of homing planes. To ground observers it appeared that incoming formations were scattered due to intense anti-aircraft fire. One large formation was observed dropping approximately one mile directly north. Twenty planes dropped on DZ with pathfinders. Twenty planes that dropped were approximately ten minutes late, of the first scheduled serial. No subsequent serials arrived over DZ. Eureka remained on thirty minutes after time of last scheduled serial. No strays dropped during that time...."
the whole report here : http://www.6juin1944.com/assaut/aeropus/page.php?page=after_pathf_82
Hope this help
Patrick, thank you for the reply. Your site is extrodinary and I have visited it many times. But there seems to be a little contradiction about the existence of lights on DZ-"N," see below.
I am one twin son of Lt. Gene Williams C.O. 3/508 pathfinder stick "chalk 18" in Normandy. As I mentioned, I am researching the drop of the 508PIR pathfinders and main serials.
I hope someone can help me find the answer to these three questions, or at least refer me:
(1) How was “speed” measured for the C-47? If a reference says “Jump speed estimated 110 mph," does that mean air-speed or ground-speed? In other words, if there were a 20 mph head wind when the troops jumped, does that mean the C-47 was flying at 110 - 20 = 90 MPH ground speed?
(2) I know that C-47 #42-93096 that carried the pathfinder team of the 2nd/508 (chalk 17) to Normandy was dedicated by the D-Day museum here in New Orleans two years ago. Mention has been made that the co-pilot of that D-Day flight attended. Can anyone put me in touch with him, or ask him to contact me? (Lt. Perez? Lt. Vohs? Lt. Gaudia?)
(3) Are there any surviving aircrew who flew the 508 Serials 20-23 who can add personal information that help understanding the trigger for the green light? Lighte "tee,?" "Gee" positioning?Rebbecca signal? Cue from lead aircraft? There is some contradictory data ... for instance, from the Official after-action report by C.O. of 314 TCGroup:
“...Eureka at DZ "N" jammed, none of the radar ships being able to pick it up. Group lead ship dropped on "Gee" as "Tee" was not lighted when lead ship arrived. Ships farther back in formation observed what appeared to be brown and green "Tees"...”
From published account by Lt. David Mondt, co-pilot (with Lt. Grimes) in “Chalk 11” from Saltby, 62nd of 314th, plane 42-68074:
"The Co-pilot was relieved to see the lighted “T” on the ground and the formation was slowing to a hundred and five.... The Co-pilot had his hand on the switch for the green light while watching the troops leave the first nine aircraft. If that “T” is in the right place, the troopers will be on target. The Co-pilot looked at his watch—2:08AM—flipped the green light and counted the troops as he felt each step out the door."
From Crewmember account, Salltby "Chalk 31" Serial 20, piloted by Capt. Edwin Greer... (last "V", serial 20)
"...In a matter of minutes, our pilots spotted the lighted panel with the proper color designation for our drop..."
Any reference that can shed futher light on the drop trigger for the 508, and/or help me with the other two questions, would be greatly appreciated.
Jack Williams, New Orleans
I hope that you are in contact with Dave Berry??
For your 3rd question I am in contact, and received an email one hour ago, with the R.O of chalk #51 in serial 21
Patrick, thanks for the reply.
Dave Barry and I have swapped quite a few E-mails and some infomation. He has a wealth of individual interviews and information from the surviving pathfinders. Perhaps I'll be able to review his data in some detail at some point.
I've tried to deduce what happened on the ground by mapping the drop of main serial sticks. By applying military logic (I'm a combat Vet, Vietnam USSpcial Forces (Abn)) knowledge of the terrain, and german deployment, it has proved possible to bring some clarity to the drop of the 508th. I've shared some of my deductions with Dave.
To refine my conclusions this far, I spent a week walking the ground in Normandy (visited Dominque Francois et. al.), and I've identified what I think is the likely actual DZ. I've also talked with surviving PF members... but there are some contradictions. That's why any clues the TCG can offer about what they saw from the air, and on what rationale they gave the green light, could be very helpful.
Of course if I could talk to a surviving crewmember of one of the three pathfinder planes, I might get all the basic answers in 15 minutes. Especially if he could identify:
(1) the heading and speed they were on when the pathfinders jumped,
(2) if all three planes were together when they jumped,
(3) what formation the planes were in (what plane lead, and which were left and right trail) - and how close they were to each other - when the PFs jumped.
Other information such as PF stick rosters (order of jump), if Capt. McRoberts jumped with Chalk 16, and exactly who jumped carrying the BUPS devices, would make writing a definitive account much less dependent on deductions.
Serial 21 was an odd duck.... it looks like most of that serial including General Gavin and 508 Col. Lindquist, dropped up near DZ "T", the 507th DZ. None of those planes seem to dropped near the intended DZ "N" so I deduce the serial leaders did not pick up the 508 pathfinder euraka. Thererfore, testimony from much of Serial 21 might not be able to offer much as far as airborne clues to the 508th pathfinders location.
On the otherhand, Serial 20 apparently come close to dropping on intended DZ "N," and not far from the eureka. Also, while Serial 22 split with part going north and straddling the Merderet, 18-20 planes, apparently hung together and dropped in a semi concentrated pattern, but well south of the intended DZ near the Douve. It would be interesting to know if they had observed something on the ground causing them to jump where they did.
Serial 23 3/508 seemed to have split up so badly that it was "everyman for himself."
Serial 20 and Serial 22 might be the most likely candidates to know if euraka signals were picked up, and if pathfinder lights were seen.
Anyway, any and all information I can get from individual air crewmen could provide a piece of the puzzle. I would like to be able to go to the TCG reunion at Pope AFB, Ft. Bragg in October and see if anyone can share information. Perhaps that will happen.
Regards and thank you. Jack
I will come back on serial 21 because I have the testimony of 1st Lt Harvey Cohen who was pilot of 43-30715.
The statement is in the book written by Donald L. VanReken (his copilot on d-day) - page 100.
"....The next few minutes seemed to fly. My element leader and I had become separated from the main formation and I was chasing him through the clouds. We had given our troopers the warning red light, when I sighted a large amber 'T' identifying the DZ about 1/2 mile to our left. The lead plane must have seen it because he turned toward it and within a few seconds was dropping his troops. I chopped the throttles and gave the troopers the "Go" signal. Then I followed him as he dove to the 'deck' and headed toward the coast."
As you know, two DZs were with amber Tee. DZ "A" for the 101st A/B and DZ "N" for the 508th and B/307th AEB
The 32nd TCS carried engineers of the 307th AEB into Normandy in 6 planes. I think they were the last six planes of serial 21
Hope this help.
There was only one (1) Amber T established in Normandy on D/D-1 and that was from Lillyman's team intended for DZ A which actually set up appx one mile north of that location at Ste Germaine de Varville. If anyone in an allied aircraft saw a lighted amber T then they saw the one at StG-d-V.
Contemporary drop map for 82nd serials in combination with the later CMH maps show a cluster of 9 planes SE of St. Martin de Varville (The contemporary map show a cluster of eight (8) and an ninth a bit NW.) Then there are two (2) 508 aircraft nearly on St-M-d-V and a third a bit further NW. Either of these three could be the two aircraft described by Cohen--
The planned flight path was 108* magnetic from PEORIA, which would have placed Cohen on a beeline for St. Martin---he saw the amber T which would in fact be off to his left--turned toward it--and he and his leader dropped their troops.
Not at DZ N---but in the area north of DZ A.
Patrick and Pathfinder504, thank you both for helping:
I had read the statement by Lt. Cohen but had not really paid attention to it because I assumed that Lillyman’s lights were turned off by the time of the arrival of Serial 21. My thought maybe Cohen's group had turned toward the green lights on DZ-“O”... but had mistaken the color as amber. Color confusion is a relatively common occurrence under stress (I can personally testify to that).
However, thanks to “Pathfinder504”, re-reading the after action report on DZ -“A” easily available on Patrick's wonderful site, I see that Capt. Lillyman kept his lights on until 0310, well after the drop of Serial 21. I really cannot understand why because it would seem an open but mistaken invitation to the 82nd serials.
The fact that Lillyman’s coded lights would have been flashing an “A” would probably have made not any impression on the pilots. In Morse code, “A” is Dit Dah, (. _ ), while “N” is Dah dit, ( _ . ). These letters could be confused when sent in sequence... ie: . _ . _ . _ . _ etc. could be easily read as either “N” or “A.”
In any case ... given that Lillyman’s actual DZ was about 3 kms NNW of St. Mere, it seems quite possible that some planes from Serial 21 could have homed on Lillyman’s lights. It is interesting that Lt. Cohen’s plane could have actually been flying close to the intended DZ “N,” on course to pass just north of Chef du Pont when he saw Lillyman’s lights ... assuming the estimate of 4.5 miles (7.25 kms) “to the left” of their flight path is correct.
Also, note that Lt. Cohen testified that they “turned toward it (the lights) and in a few seconds was dropping his troops...,” not that they jumped on top of the lights. It should have taken 1.5 to 2 minutes to fly the 4.5 miles to the actual site of the lights. So Cohen's stick could have jumped anywhere between Chef du Pont and St. German du Ville...and halfway equates close to St. Mere.
I have some of the 307th Engineers tracked to certain groups that consolidated early on the ground. This provides a clue to where they jumped. But unfortunately, it is not conclusive because demo-engineers also jumped with Serial 20 and 22. If I knew who was on Cohen’s plane, we may be able to pin that stick's drop location pretty closely.
However there was a second set of amber lights turned on. Multiple accounts from surviving 508th pathfinders, and a direct reference by Capt. McRoberts in his after-action report indicate that two amber lights, one of which was the coded light, were turned on by the 3/508 pathfinders of Chalk 18. These two lights were supplemented with some flashlights...so while not a true “T”, they were a visual signal of sorts. Trouble is they were apparently beneath a canopy of apple trees.
So here is the conundrum. What lights, if any, were seen by the Serials? Who homed on the Eureka, from what Serials? Were the lights reported by Serial 20 planes just a brief odd-ball set of ground clutter that looked like a “T,” or were they part of the 3/508 pathfinder set-up?
I think I have the actual location of the 508th PFs sticks pinpointed. But this disconnect is causing me considerable doubt. All clues from the air will help make deductions more accurate...and I’ll share my ultimate conclusions with all.
Of course a conversation with a pathfinder plane pilots or co-pilots about course, speed, and the formation of the three 508 PF planes when the drop was made could clear up most of these questions.
Regards, and thanks Patrick and Pathfinder50
Yes D. you are right..
I have read too fast the after action reports and made an error on the number of lights on each DZ. particularly on DZ "N".
Mc Roberts write about two lights while Lillyman report is about T.
the statement of Lt Cohen is with an amber 'T' and I can assume that he saw the whole Tee illuminated. But, Jack, when he saw the amber 'T' it was 1/2 mile to his left (according to the testimony) and it don't take many time to be over it and drop his troops.
Thank you Patrick.
Some time ago I saved an online version of that statement that was included within a very nice web site dedicated to TCG group stories. It was on one of these links...that seem no longer to be supported.http://www.worldwar2pilots.com/Dday17.htmhttp://amcmuseum.org/Collections/OralStories/ddayflights3.htm
That version had the distance being 4 or (4 1/2) miles, not 1/2 mile. If 1/2 mile was estimated distance the lights were seen, then that would place Lt. Cohen's plane well up with the portion of Serial 21 that dropped Gen Gavin et. al. I'll double check it to be sure. Regards and thanks...
Patrick, can you tell me which TCS squadron # 42-32827 I am sure it was in the 313th TCG but do not know which TCS squadron it was in?
42-32827 was in 47th TCS. Pilot : 2nd Lt. Richard P. Sarrett