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D-Day - Pathfinders

TEAM "A" was scheduled to land at point on DZ "A" of 389-968 flying from NW to SE at 0020, June 6, 1944. Actual landing was made in vicinity of St. Germaine de-Varreville (394-994) and flying from ENE to WSW at approximately 0015. All three sticks dropped together and could be seen together but were considerably strung out with the last man in each aircraft landing near Beuzeville-au-Plain (370-985). Upon assembly and orientation it was the decision of Capt. Lillyman to select the best available field in the immediate area and establish the Radar and Light Aids. Enemy fire had been received from the vicinity of Fucarville, from the beach area and from the vicinity of Audouville la-Hubert. There was no enemy fire.

(Source: Report of D-Day Pathfinders activities - 1 July 1944)

TEAM "C" was scheduled to drop on DZ C at 0025 at Point 399928. Actual drop was made at 394-929 for one stick (Lt. Kessler, Stick 1 506th) and at 406-918 with remaining Stick, Lt. Faith, Stick 3, 501st Parachute Infantry. Base Stick, Stick 2, 506th, Lt. Rothwell Jumpmaster was forced down in the channel, time, place and cause unknown but reports have been received to the effect that the entire plane load was safely returned to England after going down.

(Source: Report of D-Day Pathfinders activities - 1 July 1944)

TEAM "D" was scheduled to be dropped at 0030 at point 392-889. Actual drop was made west of St. Come-du-Mont from points 373-992 south to 378-879 at approximately 0047. This jump was carried out under intense enemy MG fire and anti-aircraft fire. Assembly of the three sticks was impossible although Lt. Watson, 501st Parachute Infantry and Cpl Beaver did establish one Eureka on DZ which was in operation and being triggered by A/C on scheduled time. Twenty-three of this Team of 54 officers and enlisted men are still carried as MIA and are believed to be prisoners of war. Stick leader of Stick 3, 506th Parachute Infantry, Mr. Dillburn, WOJG, has been reported PW by Capt. Brown who likewise was captured but who later escaped.

(Source: Report of D-Day Pathfinders activities - 1 July 1944)

The 505th pathfinder team, commanded by 1st Lt. James J. Smith, Air Corps Commanding Officer Captain Kirkpatrick, took off as per schedule. Encountering little flak on the run in from landfall to DZ, dropped within 400 yards of previously designated pinpoint. The drop was six minutes early. The DZ was set up as per SOP, with the exception of one battalion light tee. This tee was not put into action due to the faulty assembly. Eurekas were set up within ten minutes of drop time. Eurekas were first triggered fifteen minutes from the time of the first element drop. Three serials dropped on and near the 505th pinpoint. All serials were approximately ten minutes early. The first serial dropped southeast of lighted tee, approximately one-half mile. The second serial dropped directly over lighted tee. The third serial dropped north by approximately one-half mile. The third serial appeared to be travelling at a speed of at least 150 miles per hour, at time of drop. Several jumpers sustained ruptures, due to the excessive speed.

(Source: Report of D-Day Pathfinders activities - 11 June 1944)

The 507th, commanded by 1st Lt. Joseph, 507th Parachute Infantry, flight led by Captain Minor, Air Corps. Flight took off on time at North Witham. Dropped on designated DZ accurately, on time. At time of drop, pathfinder personnel and pathfinder aircraft were subjected to heavy anti-aircraft fire. The jumpers, on reaching the ground, found themselves in a German Troop concentration. Due to aggressive action of enemy troops, the DZ was not set up according to SOP. No lights were turned on. One Eureka was set up by this pathfinder team twenty minutes prior to scheduled drop of first serial. Eurekas were triggered fifteen minutes prior to drop of first scheduled serial. All elements appeared on time. These elements were widely scattered upon arrival, apparently due to action of enemy anti-aircraft fire. A maximum of fifty aircraft dropped their parachutists on the DZ. Eureka remained in action twenty minutes after scheduled time of last serials. A few strays dropped after scheduled time.

(Source: Report of D-Day Pathfinders activities - 11 June 1944)

508th, commanded by Captain N. L. McRoberts 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 Saint Sauveur le Vicomte. Flak continued from Saint 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.

(Source: Report of D-Day Pathfinders activities - 11 June 1944)

TEAM E was scheduled to drop on DZ C at 0027 at Point 393-927 and landed approximately 0029 at point 395-895. Both sticks were together when dropped and Lt. Driver assembled his entire stick in approximately ten minutes. Lt. Hensley was missing five men on the assembly. These two teams were to mark the LZ at two points withe base stick establishing the Eureka. Eureka was established at approximately 0330 by which time the two sticks had moved to the correct LZ's. Eurekas were turned on at 0350 and reception was made with transmitting aircraft prior to 0400. Both teams established lights but those established by Lt. Driver were knocked out by a landing Glider at approximately 0420. Lt. Hensley kept his lights on until approximately 0445.

(Source: Report of D-Day Pathfinders activities - 1 July 1944)

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