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Lieutenant Colonel Charles Timmes

82nd Airborne Division - 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment - 2nd Battalion

Utah Beach

 

I was in the group flown by Col. Mitchell. We got below a lot of haze and we flew at about 550 feet above the ground. We did not go too fast, and our landing was very good. We jumped at 0230, and we did not see any lights on the ground. I had a lot of difficulty in assembling. We had the mission of taking Amfreville. I never did get with the Battalion until about the fifth day. As to lights, it would be a mistake to sell them short. The Executive Officer had a light, and the Regimental Commander had a light and the Radar Section also had a light. Our flares were wet and did not work. I assembled small groups not far from the La Fiere bridge. Most of the bundles went into the swamp. We used the knot system and lights on our bundles, but we only retrieved a few. The mistake we made was that we used wooden container lights and most of them wouldn't work. The radios were jumped right on the radio men. The radio would come in handy but we had no radio. It was tragic not to have a radio for the first five days. The challenging system of using two words is excellent. The men were getting out of the planes too slowly and this caused dispersion. Also teach the men to get out of their equipment and chutes. Men should be taught more about that. After Captain Swartzwalder came in we were going to make a night attack on the bridge at Amfreville, but we didn't because the artillery fire was falling on us.

We tied our bundles together and I think it is a good practice in using the knot system. We used no luminous lights, but if we were to do it again we would use bundle lights. We would use anything to help identify the bundles. We had to send out real strong patrols to recover the bundles. I would have liked to have talked to the pilot if there was an inter-phone.

(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)