Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The Company Campaign - Kilo Company goes in

On the night of the 5th of June 1944 K-Company "Kilo" of the III Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division took to the air in nine C-47s, the group included a platoon from the 307th Airborne Engineers.  The group flew south and crossed the England coast just east of Weymouth.  The planes then flew to a waypoint to the NW of the Channel Islands and then turned for France.

Kilo Company had been given the following orders.

Landing at Drop Zone N proceed to:

Seize and destroy the crossings of the DOUVE RIVER at BEUZEVILLE-LA-BASTILLE and ETIENVILLE (PONT L'ABBE).
Seize, organize and defend the area along the general line CR (261938) - RENOUF (incl.).
Clear and secure the Divisional area within its sector, including the prominent Hill 30 overlooking the Chef-du-Pont causeway.
Assemble one Battalion without delay in area indicated as Force Reserve.
Patrol aggressively to the line indicated.
Be prepared on Divisional order to advance to the West to the line of the DOUVE RIVER.
The flight was uneventful, then they crossed the Cotentin coast at Baubigny.  Ahead lay a cloud bank, the fleet of planes flew into the cloud, the formation fragmented.  Some of the pilots fearing collision changed altitude or tried to edge away from their now invisible neighboring planes.
The planes of Kilo Company cross the French coast.  In the lead plane, plane #73, is Captain McNair and his company HQ.
The clouds had also knocked the formation off course, the flight was now south of where it should have been and flew over the FLAK at Etienville/Pont L'Abbe and Picauville.  The heavy FLAK around these two towns sent up a wall of explosions.  The fragmented formations final cohesion failed.

Two planes panicked, #76 and #78 immediately hit the green light and dropped its men.  These men were dropped in the dense bocage and orchards just to the south of Pont L'Abbe.  Once the men landed they soon realised Etienville/Pont L'Abbe was heavily garrisoned.  If they were to survive they would need to head east.  The heavy FLAK rising from Picauville to the NE pointed to another area best avoided.

2:08AM 6th of June 1944
Plane #76 (Lt Lawton, 2nd Platoon HQ and 2nd Platoon Squad 1)
Even though they were dropped well short and south of their DZ the stick left the plane in good order.  As the men descended they watched the FLAK rise up into the formations of planes to the north.   Soon they were on the ground, amongst dense bocage and orchards.  Just to the south was the small hamlet of Clainville.

GROUP 5 [3 men]
Lt Lawson quickly came across two of his HQ, Sergeant Gillem and his messenger Private Hodges, the three men waited, listening, but could not see or hear any of their comrades.   Not sure where they were they headed to Clainville.  They roused a scared French farmer out of bed, he told them where they were and that they should not to go to Etienville or Picauville as there were "many bosch...hundreds".

GROUP 6 [6 men]
1st Squad Sergeant Sutherland landed on the hill above Clainville.  Within minutes he had found 5 of his squad, including his machine-gunner.  Unfortunately, with no machine-gun.  They realised that they had not seen many other planes drop their loads and decided the best plan was to follow their planes that were disappearing into the eastern sky.  They started through the fields, heading away from Lt Lawton.

Plane #78 (Lt Bolling, 3rd Platoon HQ and 3rd Platoon Squad 1)
GROUP 7 [11 men]
Lt Bolling landed hard, hitting a tree in the orchard, breaking both of his legs.  The platoon sergeant Bull found his Lt and cut him loose.  The lieutenant was in terrible pain so Bull injected him with morphine.  Soon, eleven of the men congregated in the corner of an orchard.  Two of the men had bought in the badly injured and unconscious Private Short.  It looked like he had taken a piece of shrapnel.  Bolling ordered his men to carry him and the private to the nearest road and leave them their, then he ordered that the remaining men go and find Captain McNair and get their job done.  Reluctantly they left Lieutenant Bolling and heading in a direction that would take them south of Picauville.

2:10AM 6th of June 1944 - East of Picauville
Plane #80 (307th Airborne Engineer Platoon and 4 men from Kilo Company HQ)
Plane #80 flew straight through the FLAK storm above Picauville.  Luckily no one in a plane was hit as the shrapnel peppered the plane.  The pilot immediately hit the green light and the men left the plane.

GROUP 307-1 [5+3men]
The four men from Kilo Company in the plane were the four bazooka men from the company HQ: Privates Clarke, O'Connell, DeWitt and Williams.  DeWitt was unlucky to land close to a German billet and was captured.  The other three men soon joined up with members of the 307th.  Clarke landed with a two-piece bazooka.  However, his assistant rocketeer O'Connell, had lost his rockets during the landing, but Williams still had a bag of rockets.  The three men and a small group from the 307th were about 50 yards from the gate to a chateaux.  Possible mission: AMBUSH, a car approaches the chateaux.

2:12AM 6th of June 1944 - West of Pont-du-Chef.
Plane #73 and Plane #74 kept together through the cloud bank and the FLAK, the pilot soon realised he was off course and south of the DZ, but seeing the Moon light glint off the Merderet River to his front and the Douve River to his south he realised he would soon be on the wrong side of the Merderet River.  He hit the green light and both planes dropped their men.

GROUP 1 [12 men]
The company commander had a good jump, but was uncertain where he had landed.  He could see no landmarks.  Soon he found some of his men, and in the next ten minutes he had accumulated a fair sized unit.  His priority was to find where he was.  By 3:00AM he had found 6 men from his plane, including three of the bazooka men, though with only one bazooka.  He also found Lt MacNider, the lieutenant from 1st Platoon and five of 1st Platoon's men.  He thought he heard his bugler a few times, but could only guess from which direction the forlorn bugle blew.

GROUP 2 [14 men]
The company commanders bugler had at first been too afraind to use his bugle, but when 1st Platoon's Tech. Sergeant Cannon found him he was convinced to use it while the sergeant kept guard.  Soon the bugle had drawn several members, including the Company's XO, Lt Hoge.  Within 20 minutes the group had swelled to 14 men.

2:13AM 6th of June 1944 - West of La Fiere causeway.
Plane #82
GROUP 307-2 [unknown]
Eighteen men from the 307th Airborne Engineers left the plane west of Canquigny.  They landed in a wide field and soon formed up.  Off to the east they could see the FLAK rising from positions around St Mere Eglise.  The unit tasked to help Kilo Company blow the bridge over the Douve Rivers knew they were no where near their DZ.

2:20AM 6th of June 1944 - NW of Sainte Mere-Eglise
Plane #77
GROUP 9 [13 men]
The pilot of plane #77 got disoriented in the clouds and veered completely out of sight of the main formation, he soon spotted some other aircraft and followed them and thereby dropped his men on the Dropzone of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment instead of the the dropzone of the 508th PIR.  The men of Platoon 2's Squad 2 and the Mortar Platoon landed amongst the well dropped 505 in the open fields NW of Sainte Mere-Eglise.  It took a while but Sergeant Patch soon had found 12 of his Stick's 18 men.  A lieutenant from a 505th found him and ordered him to join him and head to Sainte Mere Eglise.  He had first thought to try find his own company, but when the Lt told him where he had landed he decided it may be best to stick with the 505 until daybreak.  His MG man had located the squads machine-gun, so they headed towards the steeple of the Sainte Mere Eglise church.

2:22AM 6th of June 1944 - SE of Sainte Mere-Eglise
Plane #79
Group 8 [9 men]
The pilot of #79 thought he was still east of the Merderet when in the distance he saw the glitter of Moon light on the sea.  He then ran into heavy FLAK.   He decided he would fly out to sea and then turn around and try find the DZ.  He asked his co-pilot to head back into the plane and ask the jump master if he wanted to try that or return to England.  Just about then the starboard engine exploded into flame and shrapnel peppered the plane.  Private Daniel Noce fell forward with a grievous back wound.  The pilot realised the plane would not make it and immediately hit the green light, the paras did not need a second invitation and all but one (and Noce) escaped the burning craft before it crashed in a ball of flame to the east.  The crew went down with their plane.

The stick landed amongst enemy troops and some were killed, wounded or captured while trying to escape their 'chutes. The rest escaped into the nearby orchard and fields.  Sergeant Collins was soon able to get some of his men together, he could hear German machine-gun fire, and decided he needed to rescue the fallen men, ordering his few comrades to use grenades and knives he led them towards the sound of the guns.

2:24AM 6th of June 1944 - Blosville
Plane #75
Group 3 [6 men]
Group 4 [2 men]
The pilot of #75 changed direction a few times trying to find landmarks, eventually he made out the sea to the east of Cotentin Peninsula, he could see the FLAK, probably aimed at the 101st aircraft, he decided he would not find the DZ, and had likely missed it, so he hit the green light switch.  The men of 1st Platoon's 2nd Squad and Mortar squad exited into a nightmare.

The stick landed amongst trees and the enemy, and onto buildings in Blosville.  Unarmed paratroopers were shot down while trying to escape their 'chutes.  The men ran to cover, escaping into the nearby fields, and slowly but surely found each other.  The Mortar Sergeant found his gunner, but no one else, they found a ditch and hid.  Sergeant Trudeau managed to find five of his men, they knocked on the backdoor of a house, he told them they were near Blosville.  He told them that "German paratroopers had billeted in the town earlier in the evening".

Kilo Company had truly been spread miles from their Dropzone.  Their story was no different to the rest of the 508th Regiment.  The 507th landed in a fairly compact area, but to the east of their DZ, and most landed in the flooded fields around the Merderet River, many drowning or losing their equipment to escape drowning.  The 505th however landed smack on their DZ (mostly).  The expected objectives of D-Day were looking to be more difficult to obtain than first envisaged.

Kilo company had lost several killed, had a few injuries and lost a few men as POWs.

Each number represent one stick (plane load) of paratroopers, with GREEN for the 508, Blue for the 507 and Orange for the 505.  

The objectives of the 82nd Airborne, secure bridge, destroy bridges, create a blocking front, and wait for the forces from UTAH BEACH and throw back any German attempt at attack.

The Map showing the areas:

The Unit Roster (U/C=Under Command, N/UC=Not Under Command, the number is the group number)

Excuse any missing W's, my keyboard has been killed by First Person Shooters :)


  1. Replies
    1. If you are keen on making a mission for any of the groups claim it. Generally the units would limit their attacks to grenades and knives/bayonets.