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Colonel Francis A. March

82nd Airborne Division - Division Artillery

Utah Beach

 

We use the system of tying our equipment together and we had no trouble. We got one gun going at Sainte Mere Eglise. It would be a good idea to have a Battalion of parachute field artillery go with every regiment. We can get the individual guns in but to get them to work and assembled has not been very successful. This was sometimes due to landing. The landing zones of the gliders was SNAFU. LZ's were changed and the Air Corps was not informed of it. Some fire was delivered on D-Day, and much more on D plus 1, and it was built up as it went along. (At this point Colonel. March was interrupted and the following incident of artillery support related):

"Colonel Shanley who was on the West bank of the Merderet, Hill 3O, had an SCR 300 which was in contact with the Regimental CP on the East bank of the river at Chef du Pont. At the Regimental CP an artillery liaison party had set up the radio and wire net and was in a position to fire in direct support but did not have contact with Colonel Shanley direct. Col. Shanley was being pressed by German infantry and requested fire through this SCR 300 artillery support, and an infantry officer adjusted fire through this medium with superior results".

Colonel March continued: If you are in a jam talk to somebody and try to get some artillery.

The gliders were coming in two and four at a time. I don't know whether I agree with that or not. Personally, I don't know how much they are briefed, but they usually go for the first field they see, particularly if someone is shooting at them. The best thing is to have a zone marked for a group.

In regard to parachute artillery, it is practical from the point of view of artillery. It will land and still be able to shoot. To get four guns together is quite difficult. In Sicily they got three together and did a nice job.

(On the evening of Thursday, 13 August 1944, a debriefing conference was held at the Glebe Mount House, Leicester. During the course of the conference each commander present who had commanded a unit the size of a battalion or larger of the 82d Airborne Division in Operation Neptune, was permitted to talk for not to exceed ten minutes. Instructions were that each officer was to speak freely, without restraint, regarding any aspect of the operation during its airborne phase and to offer any criticism he saw fit in the interests of improving our operational technique in future combat. Commanders spoke in the order in which it was planned that they would land. Their statements were taken down verbatim as far as possible.)

(Courtesy: National Archives)