The advance screen of the Dragoon Operation was made up of an airborne division (Rugby Force), which was to drop in the valley of Argens, near Le Muy and which originally appeared to be ad hoc in nature. A combined British and US force of some 9732 men, named the 1st Airborne Task Force, commanded by Major General Robert Frederick, was made up of elements of the Canadian 1st Special Service Force, the British 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade with the attached 2nd Mortar Battalion and the US 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 460th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, the anti-tank Company of the 442nd Infantry Regiment, D Company of the 83rd Mortar Battalion, 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion, 550th Glider Infantry Battalion, a platoon of the 887th Airborne Engineer Company and Lieutenant Colonel Bill Yarborough’s battle hardened 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion with the 463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion attached.
The final plan would see the 509th jump at 0415 and land south and southeast of Le Muy with the objective of capturing the high ground above the town. The 517th scheduled to jump at 0430 and seize the hills to the West and North of Le Muy and then block the main roads leading into Toulon and Draguignan The remained of the force would then land to block any advance by the German defending forces towards the beachheads. The landings there were scheduled for 0800.
The second phase required the first echelon of French Groupe Armée B (Garbo Force) to undertake the reduction of Toulon, followed by Marseille, after which the 5th US Army Corp would orient toward the northeast and march on Grenoble in order to cut off a German retreat. The fall of Toulon was expected on D+20 (4 September) and of Marseille on D+40. The crossing of the Durance River was forecast for 15th October, and the final aim, the occupation of the Lyon, Bourg-en-Brese, Chalon and Vichy areas was envisaged on D+90, or about 15th November 1944.
By 11th July 1944, the various airborne elements had begun to assemble at various airfields around Rome. Maj. Gen. Frederick had no staff officers, so the army quickly flew thirty-six officers from the 13th Airborne to join his force at Lido di Roma airfield. In addition further equipment had to be sourced including cargo chutes, but by 11th August 1944, preparations were finalized.
General view on the operation ANVIL - DRAGOON
Date: 15th August 1944
Units: 1st Airborne Task Force Comprising:
517 Parachute Infantry Regiment,
509th Parachute Infantry Battalion,
551st Parachute Infantry Battalion,
460th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion,
463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion,
596th Parachute Engineer Company,
550th Glider Infantry Regiment.
Arrows showing the places where the 463rd PFA landed.
Fully Equipped (Doug Bailey)
The invasion of Southern France - code named "Operation Dragoon" - was conceived as a means of putting large quantities of additional men and material onto the Continent of Europe. It was not felt that these could effectively be used in Italy, and the Channel ports were already operating to capacity. This left the South of France, which included the large Port of Marseilles.
The invasion was to open with an airborne assault by the First Airborne Task Force commanded by Brigadier General Robert T. Frederick (who commanded the First Special Service Force until about 23 June). Frederick organized and trained this composite unit in the amazing time of less than one month. The Task Force was to be transported in 535 C-47 and C-53 aircraft together with 465 gliders. It was to drop in the Argens Valley near Le Muy and Draguignan to block roads leading to the beachhead then attack the town of Frejus near the coast from the rear. The parachute troops were to jump at first light around 0430 hours and were to be followed by the gliders beginning around 0930 hours.
The First Airborne Task Force was principally comprised of the following units:
British 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade
517th Parachute Infantry Regiment
551st and 509 Parachute Infantry Battalions
550th Glider Infantry Battalion
463rd and 460th Parachute Field Artillery Battalions
602nd Glider Pack Howitzer Battalion
On 11 August, the 463rd was trucked to the airport at Grosseto, about 100 miles north of Rome near the coast. Here, together with the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion, they loaded aboard C-47 aircraft for the flight across the Ligurian Sea.
At 0425 hours on 15 August 1944 in scattered clouds and fog, one half of Headquarters Battery, all of A Battery, plus the 1st and 2nd Platoons of D Battery jumped in the vicinity of Le Muy, France. As the result of a navigational error, the other half of the Headquarters Battery, all of B and C Batteries plus the 3rd and 4th Platoons of D Battery jumped at 0430 hours in the vicinity of St. Tropez. Despite the inadvertent splitting of the 463rd into two parts, the unit managed to reassemble as a battalion by 17 August about 31/2 miles southwest on Le Muy. The Battalion Commander, Major John T. Cooper, fractured his ankle in the jump on 15 August and was replaced for approximately two months by Major Stuart M. Seaton, the Battalion Executive Officer. Upon his return from a hospital in North Africa in mid-October 1944, Major (later Colonel) Cooper served as Battalion CO of the 463rd until the end of the war.
After its reassembly, the 463rd worked its way up to the coast toward Nice with the Task Force. On the way, much larger and better equipped enemy forces were defeated, captured, or dispersed. Near Nice the 463rd and a glider infantry battalion were transported north into the Maritime Alps to fight as mountain troops for the next several months. During this period the men of the 463rd fought the "Champagne Campaign," which entailed combat with the enemy interspersed with occasional passes to enjoy the pleasures of the French Riviera just a few miles away. However, with the onset of winter, the 463rd was replaced by another parachute field artillery battalion and on 22 October 1944 was withdrawn from combat and moved by truck back to the south coast.
For a while, the men of the 463rd were able to relax and enjoy life on the Riviera without the distraction of the war. However, toward the end of November 1944, the First Airborne Task Force was disbanded, and the 463rd was attached to the 101st Airborne Division for administration and rations. The 101st was in north central France at Mourmelon-la-Petite, just to the east of Reims, where it was sent after Operation Market Garden in Holland. Traveling by truck from the Mediterranean Coast, the 463rd arrived at Camp Mourmelon on 12 December 1944. The weather was cold and wet. After a short but restful week, all hell broke loose to the north.
Major Stuart M. SEATON | 22 August 1944
In the early morning of 15 August 1944 elements of this organization departed from airdromes in Italy to participate in the lnvasion or southern France. The elements of this Battalion were divided between the take-off airdromes, Grosseta and Follonica so that in event of separation each group could operate as a Battalion in itself. Consequently, departing from the Grosseta airdrome, comprising a portion of serial 5 were three (3) plane loads from Headquarters Battery, Battery 'B" complete, Battery 'C' complete, and two (2) plane loads from Battery 'D". The Battalion Commander was in command of this group. Departing from the Follonica airdrome with serial 4 was the remainder of the Battalion consisting of two (2) plane loads from Headquarters Battery, Battery "A" complete and four (4) plane loads from Battery 'D'.
The Battalion Executive was in command of this portion of the organization. The two serials dropped in two different sectors. Serial 5 consisting of twenty-nine (29) plane loads which left from the Grosseta airdrome was dropped on the peninsula in the vicinity of St. Tropez, France while serial 4 consisting of twenty (20) plane loads from the Follonica airdrome dropped remarkably close to the prearranged drop zone southeast of Le Muy, France. All plane loads of this serial, with only two exceptions dropped within a radius of 1000 yards of the drop zone, some of which were only 200 and 300 yards away. Of the two remaining plane loads one was dropped in the vicinity of St. Raphael, France and the other in the vicinity of Les Arcs, France. Due to the circumstances brought out in the above paragraph and in order to give a clear picture of the operation of the two groups will be described separately.
All twenty-nine (29) plane loads with serial 5 dropping from an altitude varying from 600 to 1000 feet at 0430 hour on "D-Day" landed in a rather wide area, the center of which was approximately three (3) miles south of the town of St. Tropez, France. Due to the fact, that this area was occupied by several hundred enemy troops, consisting of two Coastal Batteries, one AA Battery, a garrison located on a predominate hill in the area, one large outpost garrison located approximately 500 yards from main garrison on western slope of hill and numerous smaller outposts consisting of entrenchments and automatic weapons. There were numerous and separated engagements with the enemy, however by daylight Major Cooper, (Battalion Commander) though suffering from a painfully fractured ankle, had, with the assistance of Captain Moran (S-2), succeeded in assembling the larger part of our troops and established a CP in a farm house (51.5 -1?) in the area. During the morning hours this group completed communications within the Battalion and "B" Battery had three guns in firing positions while "C" Battery assembled and put into position two guns, and by noon we had communications with air CP 602 and Navy.
During the morning hours elements of our troops acting as Infantry attacked the hilltop garrison and Coastal Batteries, inflecting casualties on the enemy and taking numerous prisoners. Due to the aggressive action of our troops the enemy was demoralized that the enemy commander upon contacting our Commanding Officer surrendered the reminder of his garrison and all material intact. Meanwhile patrols from "C" and "B" Batteries were attacking the large outpost garrison on slope of hill. Here the enemy resistance was so determined that our patrols were forced to call upon Artillery support from "B" Battery. One gun was pulled up and after five (5) rounds of direct fire, of which three (3) rounds were direct hits, the enemy ran up the white flag and surrendered the position intact. Other elements of our troops who had landed nearer St. Tropez under command of Lt Saunders, (Battery "C"), occupied the high ground above the town. There, with elements of "B" and "C" Companies, the 509th Parachute Infantry, they set up a defensive position. About 0930 hour they contacted a patrol from the 15th Infantry who agreed to radio a message to Headquarters Airborne Task Force informing them of our landing on St. Tropez peninsula. Then this group moved to St. Tropez along with "B" Company, 509th Parachute Infantry. There they met Major Garrett (Battalion S-3). Here our troops fighting with Company "B", 509th Parachute Infantry, participated in the capture of the Citadel and other strong points in town.
Later Major Garrett and this group of our troops reported to our CP at about 1500 hours. Then Major Garrett and one gun crew from "B" Battery returned to St. Tropez and from there they proceeded to a position 1000 yards northwest of the town and brought direct fire upon an enemy roadblock. This enemy position consisted of two (2) large pill boxes. This gun, though under extremely heavy machine gun fire succeeded in obtaining direct hits upon both forts, after which the enemy surrendered. Another separate actions of our troops is as follows - During the early morning a patrol from "B" Battery was sent to the beach in effort to contact amphibious forces. No landing had yet been made and the patrol started to return to our area. On the way back they contacted a patrol from "C" Battery and together they attacked a building containing enemy troops. After killing two of the enemy, the remainder, approximately ninety (90) surrendered to our patrols.
In the late afternoon of "D-Day" our troops after searching for lost equipment, sent up outposts and defenses for the night, and by nightfall we had assembled our prisoners which totaled 240 and marched them into St. Tropez where they were guarded during the night by our troops assisted by French Partisan groups.
D+1 at about 1000 hour Major Cooper and our other casualties were evacuated and Major Garrett assumed command. About 1000 hour our prisoners guard detail turned over our prisoners to the 3rd Division POW Collecting Point and the remainder of the day our troops searched for missing personnel and missing combat and parachute equipment, and having obtained trucks from VI Corps we moved during the night to rejoin the remainder of our unit near Le Muy, France.
The remaining portion of the Battalion with serial 4 dropped at 0425 on "D Day" in vicinity of the drop zone southeast of Le Muy, France. From the standpoint of an Airborne Division the tactical employment of this group was as previous planned. There was no enemy action encountered on the drop zone and with the exception of the two scattered plane loads, the assembly went well. The first radio communications with outside parties was with Liaison Officer No. 1 at 0800 hours who was operating with 2d Independent Parachute Brigade. By 0700 hour Battery "A" had three (3) of their four (4) guns assembled but none were yet located in the pre-arranged battery position. At 0930 hour the Battalion CP was established in the vicinity of this position and by 1030 hour the first gun was moved into position, laid and ready to fire. The second of these guns came in at 1130 hour and the third which had been employed as a direct fire weapon up until this time arrived in firing position at 1500 hour. The three (3) guns were registered and two (2) missions fired in support of the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion at approximately 1730 hour. The fourth gun, parts of which had dropped in a gully of about seventy-five (75) feet in depth closed into position at 1900 hours.
The assembly of the Headquarters Battery personnel was good and fire direction was established at approximately 1200 hour. Necessary wire communications within the Battalion and to the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion CP were completed at 1000 hour. Major Seaton, Battalion Executive made first personal contact with the Commanding Officer of the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion at approximately 1640 hour.
The assembly of the "D" Battery personnel went off in a good manner and the men and weapons were tactically placed around the organization for the necessary local security and anti-aircraft and anti-mechanized protection.
There was one group of men and Officers which assembled approximately 1000 yards from the drop zone. Lt Whittington (Battery "D") reported in to the CP from this group and was given instructions to establish a road block in that vicinity on the road from Le Muy to St. Maxime. This road block was established immediately.
The Battalion position was maintained throughout the entirety of D + 1, a total of sixty-two (62) rounds was fired, in support of the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion for the period of D and D + 1 on the attack of the town of Le Muy, France and on the morning of D + 2 this group went into bivouac with the 509th Parachute Infantry in the vicinity of Le Muy, France.
Taking both groups together in a summary it is to be brought out that by the end of "D Day" the Battalion had assembled a total of ten (10) howitzers. Of these ten (10) howitzers four (Battery "A") were used in direct support of the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion in the carrying out their mission, and the remaining six (6) were used in scattered action in the vicinity of St. Tropez. There was a total of five (5) support missions (excluding registrations) fired and a total of eighty-two (82) rounds expended.
Throughout the Airborne operation, there was a total of 244 prisoners captured by this organization of which 240 were captured by elements of the St. Tropez sector. Only one resupply mission was completed in our sector and that was dropped on drop zone "C" but when the recovery was made it was found that it was resupply for the 2d Independent Parachute Brigade.
It is my belief that this Airborne mission, even though the organization was divided, was successful due to the fact that the elements of the Battalion which landed in the vicinity of the drop zone completed the mission assigned the Battalion and that the remainder of the organization though not in position to carry out the assigned mission, successfully harassed the enemy by inflecting numerous casualties on the enemy capturing 240 prisoners.
There are very few recommendations that I have to offer. From observation of resupply in the sectors of adjoining units it was apparent that some loads were dropped from excessive heights. Sufficient blankets should be dropped by resupply so that each individual will have at least one.
Operations have further brought out the point that it is absolutely essential that organic transportation for Airborne units should come in with the amphibious forces on "D" "Day". In completion it is clearly obvious that there must still be more coordination on the part of the Air Corps. Had the remainder of the organization dropped in the same location as serial 4 the Airborne mission for the 509th Parachute Battalion Combat Team would have been a complete success in all respects.
A personal remark from Doug Bailey (see also chapter here beneath) :
I know that B-Battery landed right on the outskirts of St. Tropez, not 3 miles from the town. In fact we could walk into the town in about 3 or 4 minutes.
At one point a German plane dropped a bomb that landed in the town square and the only one it killed was a little girl...
Mr. Doug BAILEY's "Dragoon" History
"OPERATION DRAGOON " with the "FIRST AIRBORNE TASK FORCE"
THE INVASION OF SOUTHERN FRANCE
By Douglas M. Bailey
Who served with the
456th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division
463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, 1st Airborne Task Force
463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, 101st Airborne Division
The First Airborne Task Force was made up of the Independent Parachute and Glider Units in Italy in 1944
551 Parachute Battalion 463 Parachute Battalion ***
517 Parachute Combat Team 509 Parachute Battalion
550 Glider Battalion British 2nd A/B Brigade
Before we were assigned to the First Airborne Task Force, my Battalion the 463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion was designated the 456th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion and we belonged to the the 505 Parachute Infantry Regimental Combat Team in the 82nd Airborne Div.
After we had jumped in the invasion on the Island of Sicily shortly after midnight with the 82nd A/B Division , we were sent to Italy and we were attached to the American/Canadian First Special Service Force. This was a Special Unit that had both Americans and Canadians in it, they had Mountain and Parachute training. We served with them on the Casino Front, the Anzio Beachhead, and the drive to Rome. When my Parachute Battalion was pulled out of the lines after Rome was captured, we first went to Lake Albano, which is South of Rome and where the Pope has his summer residence.
After a short time we moved out to the coast to LIDO DE ROMA which was a summer resort for the wealthy Italians. Here we received replacements to build the 463rd Parachute Battalion up to full strength for the next Combat Jump. They sent some Officers back to the Replacement Depots in Africa to hand pick the qualified Troopers.
Just before we left Lido De Roma some Engineers came out with a compressor and spray guns to camouflage us. We fell out with our jump suits on, and all our webbing and Musset bag. One guy sprayed us with black paint and the other guy sprayed us with green paint. We also had tubes of grease paint to paint our faces, so by the time it came to load the planes, we would be a mean looking bunch. We Left the Rome area and went north about 100 miles to the Grosseto Airport where we would take off for France. We left around midnight and flew west over the Ligurian Sea, then North about on the same route that Napoleon took when he returned to France from exile.
The 463rd and the 509 made up a Combat Team, and we took off about 40 minutes before the rest of the Airborne. These two little Bastard Battalions spearheaded the attack. Jumping around 4:30 in the morning, just before daylight, we were supposed to jump at a place called Le Muy about 15 miles inland, but quite a few plane loads of the 463 and 509 got the green light over St. Tropez, which is on the coast. When we went to the planes to Chute up, there were two extra main chutes and two reserves left over at our Plane, so we just threw them in the plane. About half way to France one of the guys got his back pack snagged and the chute came out behind him. So we grabbed one of the extra chutes and somehow, in that dimly lit plane, got the old one off and the new one on over all the equipment.
When they made the big plan, they did not figure that when all those planes arrived over the coast, that the coast and miles inland would be covered by low clouds. When I went out the door and my chute popped open, I immediately entered what I thought was a ground mist or fog and got ready to hit the dirt. I came out of that cloud and went into another one, and thought this must be a ground fog. I came out of that one and then I could see in the moonlight that we were coming down on the coast. I could see the coast line real clear in the moonlight and knew that they had dropped us in the wrong area I could see that I was over land, but not by much, so I grabbed my front risers and tried to slip further away from the coast and the Ack Ack fire, which I had become quite allergic to after the Sicily Invasion Jump. We had jumped from quite a high altitude, in fact the highest I ever jumped, so it was quite a long ride down . ( One whole planeload of 18 Troopers from the 509 were lost when they came down through the clouds to land in the water and they all drowned.)
I came down on a dirt road with trees on both sides, and could hear other Troopers coming crashing down through the trees and high brush. I scurried over to a ditch and had a heck of time getting out of my Chute. The Belly band that goes between your body and through the reserve chute had twisted up my back, and I could not reach the Quick release tab. I had to get my Jump Knife out to cut myself loose. The first guy I met was out of my gun section. He was an Apache Indian from the San Carlos Indian reservation in Arizona. He had joined us as a replacement on Anzio. We joined up with a few others, captured one garrison and took many prisoners, and also captured a large pill box on the beach, and took them prisoners too. Most of them were not Germans but from other Balkan countries that the Germans had captured and impressed into the German Army . They had German uniforms and had German equipment. The big Pill Box we captured had a German Sgt. and Corporal, but the the other 12 or 14 soldiers were these other troops. We also got into a street fight in St. Tropez with some German Marines, but they soon showed the white flag.
While all this was going on, other 463rd guys were capturing a German Coastal Battery. Jay Karp, who was one of the guys that made that charge up the hill told me, " We came upon a Lt. Rosen, who had been shot in the rump. He hollered at us. Don't mind me go get those Bastards. " ---" So we did"
Col. Cooper, the Battalion Commander, broke his leg on this jump and was sent to a Hospital in Africa. He rejoined us months later when we were up in the French Maritime Alps. Later that evening we turned our prisoners over to the 3rd Infantry Division that had landed, and we moved by Amphibious Ducks to La Muy, which was our original Drop Zone. After we got together with the 463rd and 509 guys that did drop at Le Muy, we continued along the coast until we got to the outskirts of nice. at one point we came to a river and the Germans had blown the bridge. There was a blown up Jeep that had hit a mine with pieces of the jeep in the branches of a tree and what looked like clothing or body parts.?? The Engineers had marked a path with white tape down the bank of the river which was fairly shallow and the trucks started down to cross. Most of them made it. But the truck behind us turned too soon and did not follow exactly and hit a mine in the middle of the river and blew up, I could see two guys flying threw the air over the side of the truck and come splashing down in the River. One suffered a broken leg, and I heard later that the other guy, I think his name was" Felton" was paralyzed from the waste down.?? They were the only two really hurt. The rest were pretty shook up, and the truck was totaled. Later two more 463 troopers were wounded when there Machine gun position was hit by mortar fire.
One was named " Tolster " who was a ex Marine and had served in China. On the Transport that took us to N. Africa, the Matson Liner S.S. Monterey, he ran into the Captain of the S.S. Monterey's steward, and that Steward had owned a Bar in Shanghai that "Tolster" use to patronize. They looked at each other and recognized each other, and had a Mini-reunion right there down on "D" Deck. (Small World). We boarded the S.S. Monterey in New York for the 12 day trip to North Africa where we disembarked at Casablanca. On the ship they only served two meals a day, and we only had a bunk to sleep in every-other night. The nights we did not have a bunk to sleep in, we just found a place on deck to sleep. The S.S. Monterey had been a Cruise ship for the Matson Line that went from San Francisco to Hawaii in peace time. It had been converted to a Troop ship. There were about Five Thousand Troops aboard, mostly out of my Division. The 82nd Airborne Division.
A few days after the capture of NICE, we were on our way to the mountains. The 463rd along with a Glider Battalion was sent up into the French Maritime Alps to fight as Mountain troops. It Took about two days for the trucks get up in the Mountains to our Destination in the Alps. We had our Rear Echelon in a Pass through the mountains in the town of BARSLONET, and our front line positions near the village of JOUSIE. We were told that this was the same pass that Hannibal took his Elephants through on the way to Italy.??
B Btry had a good position on the side of a mountain and did not receive too much counter battery fire. The other batteries further down from us took a lot of fire. I believe one Battery had to move a couple times. They sent one Battery way up higher on a mountain, and while there were covered by deep snow and became ineffective. They took 3 or 4 men from each gun section. and sent us up the mountain to help dig out the road so the snowbound Battery could get out. I did not mind going up there, although the snow was about 8 ft deep in places. We really worked up a sweat shoveling that snow. I think we were in the mountains for about 3-1/2 months. We lived on C & K Rations and once in a while we had 10 in 1 Rations. I think they were packed in England. Because in each box was a great big can of Beef and Kidney Stew which was the worst food I ever tasted. Even now I shudder when I think of it. We were finely relieved by French Moroccan troops from North Africa that had Mules to get around with. The 463rd moved back down along the French Riviera.
Visit to Fort Bragg and Poem from Bill Tingen about Dragoon
William 'Bill' Tingen looking at a 'Dragoon' display
in the Fayetteville NC Airborne Museum in June 2004,
2 days after his 80th birthday.
Bill TINGEN's Airplane in Operation Dragoon: C47 2L-A The Black Sparrow.
The crew is 1st Lt. Richard Mason( Pilot), 2nd Lt. Frank Widbin Co-pilot), Tech Sgt. John Byers (Crew Chief), Sgt Alfred Silverstine (Radio Operator), 2nd Ly John Coggins (Navigator).
Picture at right is taken December 1944, Dreux, France
Courtesy: Tim SCOTT
Today's CAF's Sparrow
Courtesy: Tim SCOTT
The year was nineteen forty four
my age was 20 and a little more
we were told to get in good condition
we were to jump on a night mission
they never said where that would be
that was the first and only combat jump for me
here is something I have told no-one yet
was I nervous on that you can bet.
Now on the side was a large name
of a lady I jilted in big letters on that plane
that is one plane I did not want to jump out.
Because of the thoughts of sparrow woman no doubt.
It swiftly came to my mind
Bill it is now pay back time
call it superstitious or what u might
that made me nervous that August night
we loaded on the plane and I real got still
then I took what they say was an air sickness pill
before long I was fast asleep like in cozy bed
then the light over the door flashed red
stand up and hook up get ready to go
when it flashed green then you know
out in the dark man after man
jumping out the door as fast as you can
as you fall through the night sky
I smelled salt fog and wondered why
then you think is it the sea below
for where they dropped you, you don't know
then like a flash it comes to my mind
that was stupid to leave the Mae-West behind
prepared to land but nothing there
but the smell of salt fog everywhere
it felt mighty fine
when I landed in a pine
happy as I could be
that was not water but a tree
I pulled my reserve without a sound
sliding gently to the ground
About daylight it all cut loose
to try contact our troops was no use
they were shelling the beach there that day
too make a beach landing right away
they made the landing there about eight
to our boys it was not too late.
The boys gave it a good name
they called it The Champagne
Based in large part on a collection of archival documents and other materials,
acquired and provided by Ken Hesler, Battery D, 463rd PFA.
Aug. 11 | Truck | Grosseto, Italy
Arrived 4PM. Major Cooper commanded half of Headquarters Battery (3 planes), all of Batteries B (12 planes) and C (12 planes), and 3rd and 4th Platoons of Battery D (2 planes). They were part of Serial 5 and boarded 29 C-47s for invasion of Southern France on August 14.
Aug. 11 | Truck | Follonica, Italy
Arrived 4PM. Major Stuart M. Seaton commanded half of Headquarters Battery (2 planes), Battery A (14 planes), and 1st and 2nd Platoons of Battery D (4 planes). They were part of Serial 4 and boarded 20 C-47s for invasion of Southern France on August 14.
Aug. 15, 1944 | Air | Saint Tropez, France
Serial 5 jumped at 0430 at altitudes of 600 to 1,000 feet. Due to navigational error and fog, they landed more than 12 miles from DZ. Major Cooper severely fractured ankle during jump. Area occupied by strong enemy forces: 2 Coastal Batteries, 1 AA battery, and 2 garrisons of troops: one on an overlooking hill and the other on a nearby slope. 3 actions:
Aug. 15 | Air | Le Muy, France
Serial 4 jumped at 0425. Even though the ground was blanketed by fog and there was no signal, with the exception of 2 planes, Major Seaton's command landed within 1,000 yards of DZ. Of the two remaining planes, one stick landed near St. Raphael and the other near Les Arcs. The combat team's mission was to cut major road and rail junctions and seize key terrain features. By 7AM, A Battery had 3 of their 4 guns assembled but not in battery positions. At 9:30AM, the Battalion CP was established near A Batteries' guns and by 10:30AM the first gun was moved into position, laid and ready to fire. The other two were in position by 3PM. Headquarters Battery and D Battery moved into position throughout the morning and early afternoon.
Before we boarded the planes, we were given antiemetic medication. Nobody got sick but some were sleepy. I fell asleep after the crew chief notified me we were 15 minutes from the drop zone. The kid next to me woke me up and we got hooked up and jumped on schedule, landing just south of Le Muy. The next day I found one guy, Eldon Jones, sleeping beside the road. I gave him a kick and said, "Hey, soldier, get going. There's a war going on."
Pvt. Chester B. Jezefski KIA
Pfc. Theodore N. Legg KIA (buried in Draguignan Cemetery)
S/Sgt. Paul E. Allen IIA - Contusion, Knee
1st Lt. James M. Austin IIA - Contusion, Chest
Pvt. Richard M. Bailey WIA
T/5 Daniel W. Boden IIA - Abrasion, Leg
Cpl. Rester W. Bryan WIA
Pvt. Richard A. Carroll IIA - Contusion, Knee
Pvt. John M. Carver IIA - Contusion, Nose & Knee
Maj. John T. Cooper IIA - Sprain Ankle
Pvt. Julian J. Cwynar WIA
Pvt. James J. Dineen WIA
Pvt. Thomas H. Ensor WIA - SFW - Chest
Sgt. Bernie Estep IIA - Sprain Ankle
Pfc. James E. Flewelling IIA - Abrasion, Nose
Pvt. Donald J. Gallipeau WIA
Cpl. Nick A. Gattuso IIA - Contusion, Face
S/Sgt. Noah D. Gray WIA
Pvt. Clifford M. Haerr WIA
Pvt. Rachambeau A. Herosian WIA
Sgt. Weldon W. King WIA
S/Sgt. Robert C. Kircher IIA - Sprain Foot
1st Sgt. Ralph B. Leggett IIA - LW - Lip
Pvt. Harvey J. Lozier IIA - LW - Thigh
Pvt. Raymond F. MacDonald, Jr. WIA
Pfc. Apostolis J. Maravelias IIA - Abrasion Elbow
Cpl. Gilbert A. McKnight IIA - Sprain Knee
T/5 Winifred L. Mellon WIA
Pvt. Eugene Menaco IIA - Abrasion, Face
Pvt. Joseph G. Miller IIA - Contusion Foot
Pvt. Harry Murphy WIA
Pvt. Paul N. Nesbitt IIA - Sprain Ankle
T/5 Thomas Pace IIA - Contusion, Arm
S/Sgt. Derwood Parker IIA - Contusion, Toe
Pfc. John A. Phillips WIA
S/Sgt. Joel O. Pierce IIA - Abrasion, Face
Cpl. George N. Porteous IIA - Abrasion, Face
Pfc. Odis P. Powell WIA
1/Lt. James K. Rozen WIA - GSW - Buttocks
S/Sgt. Harry Rudyk IIA - LW - Forehead
Pvt. Ethan E. See WIA
Cpl. Roy C. Simmons WIA
1st Sgt. Joseph F. Stolmeier IIA - LW - Wrist
T/5 James F. Strothers IIA - Strain Feet
S/Sgt. Samuel Tapryk IIA - Sprain Foot
T/5 Ray V. Tennis IIA - Sprain Ankle
Cpl. Leo A. Traeder IIA - Contusion, Knee
T/5 George L. Walker WIA
Pvt. Raymond W. White WIA
Sgt. Joseph Yagesh WIA
T/5 Riley J. Watts MIA
Aug. 16 | Le Muy, France
The batteries under Seaton fired a total of 62 rounds during the 15th and 16th in support of the 509th's attack on Le Muy.
Aug. 16 | Saint Tropez
At about 10AM, Cooper and other casualties were evacuated with Major Garrett assuming command.
Pvt. Walter Danowski WIA
Pvt. Dan P. Garner WIA - SFW - Right Hand
Pvt. William Hough, Jr. WIA
Cpl. Billy J. Lester - WIA - LW - Arm
Pvt. Regis Mills WIA
Cpl. James E. Murphy WIA
T/5 Michael L. Sajazovich WIA
S/Sgt. Samuel Tapyrik WIA
Aug. 17 | Truck | 3.5 miles southwest Le Muy, France
463rd PFA reunites. Major Seaton succeeds Cooper as battalion commander for two months. Relieved from combat at 12 midnight. Battalion credited with capturing 375 Germans, more than those captured by the remainder of the Task Force combined.
Pvt. Joe L. Rodriquez WIA - SFW - Face
GENERAL NOTES ABOUT THE INVASION OF SOUTHERN FRANCE
Crew served weapons:
Equipment carried on persons:
SETS NETS FREQUENCY
SCR-284 45th Div. Arty. 4075 Kcs
SCR-300 509th Prcht. Inf. To be announced
SCR-609 Army "A" channel 27.4
SCR-609 A/B Arty. channel 32.7
SCR-609 Bn. "A" Channel 30.4
1. Bn. will lay to battery switchboard in vicinity of guns
2. Btrys. will lay one line direct from guns to Fire Direction Center
3. Bn. will lay two trunk lines to switchboard of 509th
4. Maintenance of wire lines will be a joint responsibility
5. Btrys. will establish wire communication with their OP's
Headquarters Battery - Blue
"A" Battery - Green
"B" Battery - Red
"C" Battery - Yellow
Bn. assembly signal will be a white flare fired into the ground
broke ankle in jump on August 15th. Stayed with unit until August 17th when transferred to a hospital in North Africa. Remained there for a while before he left for Paris, his leg still in a cast. He ran into a surgeon he knew who x-rayed the leg and determined that the cast could be removed. He removed it and Cooper set off across country to rejoin his unit. He rode with another. He had written orders for himself to rejoin his unit, orders being necessary to get through the many checkpoints across Southern France. He rejoined the 463rd at Barcellonnette on October 14.
Prior to boarding the plane for the jump into Southern France, Seaton supervised the packing of the cells to be loaded onto the bottom of the plane. Once they were loaded and in place, they started boarding. When he saw the pilot, Seaton told him that everything was ready to go and not to touch any of the buttons for releasing the cells until they were above the drop zone. The pilot mistakenly hit the button releasing the cells onto the runway (6 of them).
While preparing for the jump, the men were trained on sand tables and talks with the navy. 5 minutes from the French coast, the plane filled with mist. When Mury's stick jumped, they landed on the coast, practically on the beach. They knew the navy was going to bombard before the invasion, so they looked for cover. They found little enemy resistance and took plenty of prisoners without firing a shot.
While on the flight, Seaton saw that his plane had crossed the French coast. He waited for the red light which he expected any second. When no red light came, he had the men begin to line up. The green light suddenly came on (without the red) He looked down and could only see fog and what appeared to be the peaks of the two mountains signifying they were close to their drop zone. He sent the men out and they landed near their DZ.
landed within 1,000 yards of San Tropez. Ordered not to use radios because of interference with Navy communication. Navy barrage came within a few yards from him. His gun fired on a pillbox causing the Germans to surrender. American troops came in and surprised to see paratroopers there. Went into Monte Carlo and got drunk.
Gus Hazzard (tape)
went into Southern France by boat since he had gotten into some trouble with Col. Cooper. He was taken off jump status. He didn't join the unit until the Alps.
Asst. S2 in Hdqts. Battery, landed within 5 miles of Le Muy. Very dark. He took his chute off, found his cricket and tried to remember the password. Very careful at the beginning but within half hour was shouting trying to round up his men. Within an hour after daylight, found nearly everyone, putting batteries into place.
Everybody on Karp's plane was confident and not very worried. He landed just inland from San Tropez. Formed up with Barney Brian, Joe Hibble, Red McVicar, August Chruscial, Gene Olivant and a few others. Told to put German bunker out of commission. On the way up the hill, found Lt. Rozen laying on his stomach cursing because he was wounded in the rear end. They continued up the hill and found a German in a hole. After a few rounds, he surrendered. He told them there were about 35 Germans in the bunker ready to surrender. The 4 Americans got about 40 Germans with only small arms fire. They left the bunker and were going down the hill, the Germans with their hands on their heads. American planes appeared above and Karp was afraid they were going to be straffed. They waved their helmets and the Germans kept their hands on their heads. The planes shook their wings and kept going.
John Mockabee (tape)
jumped as a 50 caliber machine gunner and landed near the drop zone. He landed between two peaks that had been studied on their sand tables. As he was floating toward the ground, he heard someone yell "Water". John scooted up into the saddle on the harness and prepared to unbuckle. He looked down and saw chutes disappearing and heard branches breaking. John realized it was only ground fog. His first action was to set up on a curve in a road near a river by a town thought to be occupied by Germans with orders to block enemy troops attempting to get by. Some Americans were firing into a house. John's gun crew was then moved back about 3/4ths of a mile and placed along another curve. They had 2 containers of 300 rounds of 50 caliber ammo. They heard vehicles coming their way. They thought German vehicles were approaching but found it was the lead jeep of the 45th Division with the Division commander riding in the lead jeep. The 463rd Lt. in charge briefed the General on the situation. The 463rd was brought together and then got orders to back up the 509th heading up along the Mediterranean. The 509th asked for 4 - 50 caliber machine guns and onve volunteer for each of them. The 509th supplied the extra men. When John got there, however, he found out that the 463rd were supposed to supply their own gun crews. So the call went out for 12 more men (for the 4 men gun crew). Assigned to heavy weapons company. They waited until dark and set guns in place by a woods filled with German snipers. At about 6:00AM, machine gun fire and artillery fire hit the patch of woods, but the infantry could not advance because of sniper fire. A Lt. from the 509th had just been hit in the leg by sniper fire and sat behind a rock next to the gun crew. 509th squad leader came up and the Lt. told him that he wanted him to take the squad over the back part of the hill to get behind the woods. The squad leader said he couldn't take men there because Gerry had artillery fire concentrated there. It was just a plain hill with no covering. The Lt. repeated the order and the sergeant repeated that he couldn't do it because they'd get mowed down. The Lt. said he would have him court-martialed if he didn't obey the direct order. The sergeant took his men behind John's position and began to move to the position. Gerry let loose with everything he had. The sergeant came back shortly with a few men and asked the Lt. if he would like to go up on the hill and pick up his men. The Lt. didn't say a word. Medics shortly moved the Lt. down the hill to the rear. John's group was ordered to move back because of sniper fire. The gunner stood up to grab the handle on the barrel, but was shot in the knee and fell backward. John ran to pick up the 50 caliber and a shot rang out and hit him in the helmet. John was thrown backward and said he was bleeding but was reassured that he wasn't. His left ear was deafened and remained so for 15 minutes. Others got the weapon and moved it to the bottom of the hill. They set the gun up and began once again to fire into the woods. Snipers didn't give up until 1 or 2 in the afternoon. 9 men came out. Members of John's gun crew were John Hay, PFC Walker, PFC Knapp and a corporal from the 509th. On the 2nd morning they were told to move forward to another hill which was laid out with 50 caliber and 30 caliber guns. They were ordered to fire at enemy bunkers. An offshore cruiser also fired. John was ordered to fire at the bunker so the captain on the ship could follow the tracers to the enemy bunker. The 509th took another hill and John's group moved forward again. Soon after, John's group was ordered back. The 509th corporal told them to place their gun at another position. They placed the gun on a cart and Hays was on the left side when the left rear wheel struck a mine. Hay was right above the mine when in exploded and everything went into his chest. Kay and Knapp were knocked forward. Every time Hay would breath, bubbles of blood would pour out. Shrapnel had also entered the breach of the machine gun and blew it into a tree where it was left. John remained with the 509th in case they needed more help. They came to a bridge that was blown out and the Lt. wouldn't let the men move forward on either side or down because he was sure there would be mines. He called back for engineers to check area. An officer came up with a jeep and the Lt. told him that they had stopped because of fear of mines. Officer said he doubted mines were there and he was going on through. He went forward and hit a mine. It blew the wheels off the jeep but didn't hurt the officer of the driver. Mine detector personnel came up with mine sweepers and probes.
Armond Cerone (tape)
landed 30 miles from the drop zone, around San Tropez, within shooting distance of the town, at about 4:30AM. The first persons he met were 463rd guys. He went into town around the time the seaborne outfits were landing. His outfit was unable to get gun crews together and didn't have any maps. Germans there were mostly from the 4th Army - Czechs, Slavs, etc. They herded the captured into one area and Cerone left to guard them. A few Germans, were dressed in black, SS, and were aggressive. The 463rd guys went through abandoned enemy garrison and collected money and other things.
We moved to Grosseto, Italy and there we stayed about three days and was informed we were going to invade Southern France in early morning and about 0100 hours we boarded the C-47s. It was about 0430 when we jumped in the Southern France near the town of Menton. We had some casualties and I saw one trooper hanging in a tree killed by anti-aircraft-artillery. Major Cooper had a leg injury as you have already described. I recalled of one thing that happened to me. Before we jumped in Southern France and before we hooked-up and trooper noticed my chute as dragging the floor. He immediately adjusted the straps and showed me how to place my M-1 rifle so it wouldn't tangle up with my suspension lines. Think the trooper was named Lester or Hesler.
When the 463rd was pulled out of the lines after Rome was captured, we first went to Lake Albano, which is south of Rome and where the Pope has his summer residence. After a short time we moved out to the coast to Lido de Roma which was a summer resort for the wealthy Italians. Here we received replacements to build the 463rd up to full strength for the next combat jump. They sent some officers back to the replacement depots in Africa to hand pick the qualified troops.
Just before we left Lido De Roma, some Engineers came out with a compressor and spray guns to camouflage us. We fell out with our jump suits on, and all our webbing and musset bag. One guy sprayed us with black paint and the other guy sprayed us with green paint. We also had tubes of grease paint to paint our faces, so by the time it came to load the planes, we would be a mean looking bunch.
We left the Rome area and went north about 100 miles to the Grosseto airport where we would take off for France. We left around midnight and flew west over the Ligurian Sea, then north about on the same route that Napoleon took when he returned to France from exile.
The 463rd and the 509 made up a Combat Team, and we took off about 40 minutes before the rest of the Airborne. These two little Bastard Battalions spearheaded the attack. Jumping around 4:30AM just before daylight. We were supposed to jump at a place called Le Muy about 15 miles inland, but quite a few plane loads of the 463 and 509 got the green light over St. Tropez, which is on the coast.
When we went to the planes to chute up, there were two extra main chutes and two reserves left over at our plane. So we just threw them in the plane. About half way to France, one of the guys got his back pack snagged and the chute came out behind him. So we grabbed one of the extra chutes and somehow, in that dimly lit plane, got the old one off and the new one on over all the equipment.
When they made the big plan, they did not figure that when all those planes arrived over the coast, that the coast and miles inland would be covered by low clouds. When I went out the door and my chute popped open, I immediately entered what I thought was a ground mist or fog and got ready to hit the dirt. I came out of that cloud and went into another one, and thought this must be a ground fog. I came out of that one and then I could see in the moonlight that we were coming down on the coast. I could see the coast line real clear in the moonlight and knew that they had dropped us in the wrong area. I could see that I was over land, but not by much. So I grabbed my front risers and tried to slip further away from the coast and the Ack Ack fire, which I had become quite allergic to after the Sicily invasion jump. We had jumped from quite a high altitude, in fact the highest I ever jumped, so it was quite a long ride down. (One whole planeload of 18 troopers from the 509 were lost when they came down through the clouds to land in the water and they all drowned.)
I came down on a dirt road with trees on both sides, and could hear other troopers coming crashing down through the trees and high brush. I scurried over to a ditch and had a heck of time getting out of my chute. The belly band that goes between your body and through the reserve chute had twisted up my back and I could not reach the Quick Release tab. I had to get my jump knife out to cut myself loose. The first guy I met was out of my gun section. He was an Apache Indian from the San Carlos Indian Reservation in Arizona. He had joined us as a replacement on Anzio.
We joined up with a few others, captured one garrison and took many prisoners, and also captured a large pill box on the beach, and took them prisoners too. Most of them were not Germans but from other Balkan countries that the Germans had captured and impressed into the German army. They had German uniforms and had German equipment. The big Pill box we captured had a German Sgt. and corporal, but the other 12 or 14 soldiers were these other troops. We also got into a street fight in St. Tropez with some German Marines, but they soon showed the white flag.
While all this was going on, other 463rd guys were capturing a German Coastal Battery. Jay Karp, who was one of the guys that made that charge up the hill told me, "We came upon Lt. Rosen, who had been shot in the rump. He hollered at us. 'Don't mind me, go get those Bastards.'" -- "So we did." Later that evening we turned our prisoners over to the 3rd Infantry Division that had landed, and we moved by amphibious ducks to Le Muy, which was the original drop zone.
Just after we came through Cannes and set up our gun positions, I was blown up (blown sky high) by the 1st incoming shell of a barrage. None of the shell fragments got me just the explosion and concussion, the big shell probably an 88 mm from a tank in the hills, although the men said it was a coastal gun they'd turned inland came in flat trajectory and hit the road right where I was walking, so up in the air I went, along with the 2 bottles of wine I had just purchased from a French lady in one of the 3 houses that was torn apart by the shell fragments. Both bottles busted when I came down on the asphalt road, the only thing I had in my hands were the bottle necks - "NO WINE!" I remember Cannes cause its the last town I saw for several days until we were in the Alps and I recovered enough strength to move around, we were then in Jausiers before we went up a mountain 12,750 ft. high to a French fort, and set up our gun positions.
Pvt. George Dorsey ( Stars & Stripes Staff Writer) "Lost Paratroopers, FFI Take Riviera Resort"
A beautiful Riviera fishing and resort town was captured by a group of lost paratroop artillerymen and a force of French Patriots who rose vengefully against their German masters.
Dropped miles from their target, the paratroopers came down through a hail of small-arms fire onto some craggy, wooded country near the sea during the night before D-Day. Several of the men, who comprised two batteries of mobile artillery, were shot to death before they hit the ground, and others were wounded in the air. "But," said Pvt. Francis Heitz, of Chester, Pa., "the moment we landed the first of the Frenchmen who aided us rushed up. Arsenault (Pvt. Roland Arsenault, of Couthbridge, Mass.), who's a French-Canadian, interpreted for us, and those French Partisans really began to go into action.
"They took the guys that were wounded, gave them a shot of brandy and carried them into their homes," said Pvt. Barney Dryan, one of a group lounging along one of the shop-lined streets. "Then they pointed out the minefields and told us where the Krauts were."
"They pointed out the houses where the garrison for this point was staying," reported Pfc. Harold True, of Buffalo, Iowa.
"Me and tree other guys lined up our 75 and sent six rounds into one of the houses. For the six rounds, we got 58 prisoners, toute suite."
Cpl. John Cunnius, of Brooklyn, N.Y., said,
"When we got to the town these FFI (Free French of the Interior) men really helped. They must be given a lot of credit. They must have kept hundreds of guns in hiding for all these years.
"Yeah," added Pfc. Julius Karp, also of Brooklyn, "there was a girl with a repeating rifle. She was tough, and she was ready to shoot anyone who got in her way."
"Then there was the captain of the underground," said Cpl. Lou Bonucci, of Pittsburgh. "He got shot through the neck, a bad wound, but he just bandaged it up and went on fighting, shouting orders and everything. A lot of credit should go to these people."
"This morning," he continued, "the regular infantry came up. There were only a few snipers around by then, and when they saw that we and the French had taken the town, they laughed and said, "Thanks."....
"At the same dark airfield (Lido di Roma), Sgt. Charles B. Rawls, Jr., a member of the Intelligence section of headquarters company of the 1st Airborne Task Force, was checking his personal equipment and mulling over his encounter earlier that day with one of the most prominent officials of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, Archbishop Francis Spellman of New York City. Early in the war, President Roosevelt had agreed to the appointment of Spellman as apostolic vicar to the United States armed forces. Now he was on hand to give his blessing and to lend encouragement to Dragoon assault troops.
"Catholic paratroopers and glidermen were blessed at Lido Airfield, but members of all denominations had been invited to participate. [Note: On returning to New York after the Dragoon assault, Archbishop (later Cardinal) Spellman wrote personal letters to the parents, wives, or next of kin of the many hundreds he had blessed] (pgs. 109-110)
"About three miles from his DZ, Capt. Tims Quinn of Louise, Mississippi, was lying stunned alongside a stone was bordering a large field. The twenty-six-year old Quinn, operations officer of Colonel Joerg's 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion, had jumped with the 463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, which was attached to the 509th Parachute Infantry, in order to be on the drop zone when Joerg's men bailed out in daylight hours. Captain Quinn had crashed into the stone wall but, other than being dazed, suffered no serious injury.
"When he had shaken the cobwebs out of his head, Quinn instinctively began feeling around the dark ground for his personal weapons. Then his woozy mind played a flashback: When his parachute popped open he had received a terrific jolt; his Tommy gun, Colt 45, and musette bag had been ripped from his body by the hurricane blasts that had engulfed him. Now, in enemy-held territory and alone, he was armed only with a trench knife. Silently Captain Quinn cursed the pilot of his C-47; obviously he had flashed the green jump signal while racing at a speed far in excess of the 110 miles per hour orders specified for dropping paratroopers.
"Quinn started stealthily slipping through the night in what he thought was the direction of his DZ. In the quiet, he heard a barely restrained "Psssttt!" The captain froze. "Psssttt" certainly was not the password. Then he heard it again, this time louder and more insistent-- "Psssttt!". As the battalion operations officer gripped his trench knife tightly, there was a rustling in the bushes and an American paratrooper, clearly overjoyed to discover a friend, edged up to Quinn. The captain, too, was relieved to find a comrade. He said nothing about the "Psssttt" password, presuming that the trooper had been too excited to remember the real one. The pair trekked off into the night." (pp. 136-137)
Paratrooper, Gerard Devlin - In another drop error, three planeloads of troops from Company A, 509th Parachute Battalion, along with two planeloads of the 463rd Parachute Field Artillery, were given the green light two minutes too soon. Landing near Saint Tropez, all five planeloads banded together, linked up with Free French forces, and liberated that plush resort town. (pg. 449)
Aug. 18 | Le Muy, France
Aug. 20 | Truck | Théoule-sur-Mer, France
Strength of command:
Hq & Hq Btry 11 61
A 5 85
B 6 86
C 5 84
D 5 94
TOTAL 32 410
Aug. 21 | Théoule-sur-Mer, France
Pvt. Thomas M. Shaw WIA
Pvt. Warren L. Snead WIA
Pfc. Edward M. Spath WIA
Pvt. Thomas J. Wolf WIA
Aug. 23 | Truck | La Napoule, France
Pvt. John P. Hay KIA (buried at Draguignan Cemetery)
Pfc. George P. Ruell KIA (buried at Draguignan Cemetery)
Pvt. Howard Knapp WIA - LW - Leg
Pvt. George P. Tolster WIA
Pvt. Merlin E. Van Etten WIA
Pvt. Joseph Vuchak WIA
Pfc. Weldon Walker WIA - LW - Leg
Aug. 24 | Truck | La Napoule, France
Aug. 25 | Truck | Antibes, France
Pvt. Alfred H. Hulshizer KIA
Pvt. Michael J. Austin IIA - LW - Left Knee
Pvt. Lloyd L. Boisjolie WIA
T/5 Hudson J. Chenevert IIA - Contusion, Buttocks
Pvt. Leo A. Guelette WIA
Pfc. James W. Hall WIA - SFW - Back
Pvt. Stewart H. Pelton WIA
Pvt. Paul A. Pyontek WIA
T/4 Frank W. Scott WIA
Cpl. Edward Kalinowski MIA
Aug. 28 | Truck | 3 Km East Antibes, France
7th Army, St. Maxime Area, So. France.
First Paratroops, 463rd Para. Field Arty, arrive in St. Maxime.
They are the first paratroopers to get back to beach area after their jump. They met little enemy opposition.
Photo by Brinn. 163rd Sig. Photo Co.
Courtesy National Archives,
photo no. 111SC-377607
(click to enlarge)
Attachments with prior narrative
Official Victor E. GARRET - Cooper Commanding | 081400 B August 1944
a. Enemy - See Intelligence Annex to F.O. #7.
b. Friendly - See Intelligence Annex to F.O. #7.
To fire in direct support of the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion.
To assist by fire the capture of Le Muy by the 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade (Br).
To prevent by fire the movement of all enemy forces within allocated sector of responsibility See operations sketch accompanying field order)
To be able to fire on Le Muy - Ste-Maxime Road.
To aid by fire the advance of Seaborne Troops.
To reinforce on call the fires of the 463 Parachute Field Artillery Battalion and the 64th Light Battery (Br.)
III. Tactical Mission for Subordinate Units.
Headquarters Battery after landing will secure equipment, assemble on proper light and move to the South end of the DZ and install Battalion CP and FDC vicinity 44.3-35.9. They will then set up Battalion Communications, mark resupply field vicinity 44.1-36.2 and establish security for CP.
"A" Battery, after landing, will assemble according to plan, secure equipment and go into position on South Side of the DZ vicinity 44.4-35.9. They will establish battery defense.
"B" Battery, after landing, will assemble according to plan, secure equipment and go into position on South Side of the DZ vicinity 44.3-35.9. They will send on Battalion Order, one 75mm Howitzer as an Anti-Tank gun to go into position vicinity 42.6-36.9, prepared to fire on enemy armor approaching from North and South on Le Muy - Ste-Maxime Road.
"C" Battery, after landing, will assemble according to plan, secure equipment and go into position on South Side of the DZ vicinity 44.1-35.7.
"D" Battery, after landing, will assemble according to plan, secure equipment and go into position on South Side of the DZ and furnish all round Anti-Aircraft and Anti-Tank protection. They will pay especial attention to repelling enemy reconnaissance parties.
(1). Position Areas:
CP Vicinity 44.3-35.9, "A" Battery vicinity 44.4-35.9, "B" Battery
vicinity 44.3-35.9, "C" Battery vicinity 44.1-35.7.
(2). Minimum range line - as prescribed by Combat Team Commander
(3). Maximum Range Line - Prescribed at 2 hour intervals beginning at
H hours. No firing outside zone of action without authority of
(4). Firing Chart - Map, France 1/25000, sheets XXXIV 44, 3 and 4,
7 and 8, XXXV 44, 1 and 2, 5 and 6.
(5). Base Point - To be selected.
(6). Registration - One battery only after presence is discovered by
firing of call fire direct support mission.
(7). Survey - By inspection initially, improved as time permits.
(8). Ammunition - Minimum initial load of 128 rounds per gun - expen-
ditures minimum with accomplishment of mission. Concentrations will
be fired at center range and not exceed 3 rounds per gun.
(9). Liaison - This Battalion will send one Liaison party to jump
with the 509th Combat Team Commander, and one Liaison party to
jump with the 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade (Br). Liaison
with the 460th Parachute Artillery Battalion and
64th Light Battery (Br.) will be by 609 Radio.
(10). Air Observation - This Battalion will have one L4 over target area
as soon as practical and an L5 will be available from Division
Artillery from H to H plus 3 on call.
(11) AA and AT Protection - as prescribed by Battery Commander Battery "D".
(12) Additional Fire - Through Division Artillery and Naval SFCP.
(13) In case any group lands in an area other than the DZ, they will,
under the senior present, proceed to carry out the mission assigned
and harass and destroy the enemy whatever means available.
(14) Direction - Batteries will lay on compass 5800.
(15) OP's "A" Battery vicinity 44.7-37.1, "B" Battery vicinity 43.4-37.1,
"C" Battery vicinity 44.9-36.8.
(16) No ammunition will be expended unless on actual enemy target as seen.
(17) Unit Journals and War Diaries will be kept.
(18) A complete field fortification will be installed and camouflaged.
(19) Battalion Rally Point will be vicinity 44.4-36.0
IV. Administration Matters.
a. See Administration Enclosure to Artillery Annex.
V. Signal Communication.
a. See Signal Enclosure to Artillery Annex and S.O.I.
b. Command Posts.
Combat Team - 43.1-36.9
Artillery - 44.3-35.9
Presumed locations (as in the report above) of the 463rd PFA
on a contemporary map (courtesy: Multimap.com).
1. South of the Drop Zone (DZ):
HQ + "A" + "B" Batteries, Battalion CP and FDC, Battalion Rally Point.
2. "C" Battery
3. CP Combat Team
4. One ("B" Btry) 75mm Howitzer as an Anti-Tank gun
into position vicinity 42.6-36.9, prepared to fire on enemy armor
approaching from North and South on Le Muy - Ste-Maxime Road
See Artillery Annex to F.O. #7.
CP's: To be Announced.
Axis of signal communication: To be announced
a. The 463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion will install,
maintain and operate the signal system as follows:
(1). Message Center: SOP
a. Upon establishing CP, will send one messenger to the 509th
Parachute Infantry Battalion for service between that unit
and the 463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion.
(a) Communication with 45th Division Artillery, 509th Parachute
Infantry, 460th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion and 64th
Light Battery (Br).
(b) Communication with ABTF Division Artillery and 602nd Glider
Field Artillery Battalion upon their arrival.
(c) Battalion "A" channel (304) will be reserved solely for fire
command and related data.
(d) Air OP's will keep their radios tuned on Army "A" channel
(274), for AA-AT warnings until ready to fire at a target when
the Battalion "A" channel (304) will be used.
(e) "D" Battery will remain on Army "A" channel (274) for AA-AT
(f) The following radio sets will report into designated nets upon
establishment of the CP.
SETS NETS FREQUENCY
SCR - 284 45th Div. Arty 4075 Kcs
SCR - 300 509th Prcht. Inf. To be announced
SCR - 609 Army "A" channel 27.4
SCR - 609 A/B Arty. channel 32.7
SCR - 609 Bn. "A" channel 30.4
(g) There will be strict radio silence on the A/B Arty. channel
(327) until 0800 D-Day.
(h) There will be one SCR-284 and SCR-609 for the Naval
Shore Fire Control Party.
(a) Battalion will lay to battery switchboard in vicinity of guns.
(b) Batteries will lay one line direct from guns to Fire Direction
(c) Battalion will lay two trunk lines to switchboard of 509th
Parachute Infantry Battalion.
(d) Maintenance of the wire lines will be a joint responsibility.
(e) Batteries will establish wire communications with their CP's.
(4) Codes an Cipher
a. Per curren SOI
III. Assembly Signals
a. Battery assembly lights will be as follows:
Headquarters Battery - Blue
"A" Battery - Green
"B" Battery - Red
"C" Battery - Yellow
b. Battalion assembly signal will be a white flare fired into the ground.
Basic Clothing and Equipment to be carried during a drop,
"Where Carried" column can be used as a guide only and load
redistributed on landing.
Tags, Identification, W/Tape
Socks, light wool
Suit, Prcht, padded w/suspenders
Helmet, steel, M-1, Prcht. Compl.
Equipment in Pockets
Knife, Prcht or P.X.
Notebook, watches, 1 pencil
Toilet paper, 48 sheets
Halizone, tablets, 1 bottle
Grenade, frag. 2
Grenades, colored, smoke (Yellow 6per Btry)
Compass, watch or lensatic
2 meals "K" ration
2 meals "D" ration
1 meal "K" ration
4 meals "D" ration
Soap and razor w/4 blades
Pocket book, w/no secret papers
Towel, huck, face
Socks, pair 2
1 can, insect powder
1 bottle mosquito repellant
1 cotton undershirt
1 cotton drawers
Mask, Gas, Light weight w/ointment
Belt, rifle or pistol w/suspenders
First aid kit, prcht
Suspended from belt
Pouch, dbl. web, mag. pistol
Canteen, filled, complete, w/cup and cover
First aid packet w/pouch
Special Equipment will be carried by individuals as
authorized by T/E
flag (Flag sewed on left shoulder sleeve)
Coat knife pocket
Left Chest pocket
Left Chest pocket
Left Chest pocket
Right Coat pocket
Left Coat pocket
Watch pocket or belt.
Right hip pocket
Right leg pocket
Insert in bandolier liner
Right leg pocket
Left leg pocket
Insert in bandolier liner
Left leg pocket
Left leg pocket
Left chest pocket
Left hip pocket
Left chest pocket
Left leg pocket
Right hip pocket
Right chest pocket
Left chest pocket
Left coat pocket
Right coat pocket
First aid pouch
On left side
Tied on left from suspenders
Official Stuart S. SEATON - COOPER Commanding | 09 August 1944
CONTENTS OF "A" BAG
1. The "A" bag of all members of this organization, regardless
of Echelon, will be packed in strict conformity of the
following items only. Officers will pack these items in their
bedding rolls and consider it their "A" bag.
Drawers, cotton, shorts 3 pr
Cap, garrison, O.D. 1 ea
Handkerchiefs 2 ea
Jacket & Trousers, HBT
or coveralls, in lieu thereof
Socks, light, wool 3 pr
Shirt, wool, O.D. 1 ea
Trousers, wool, O.D. 1 ea
Undershirts, cotton 3 ea
Blanket, wool, O.D. 2 ea
Towel, bath 2 ea
Boots, prcht 1 ea
Can, meet, w/knife, fork, spoon 1 ea
Pins for tent, shelter half 5 ea
Poles for tent, shelter half 1 ea
Raincoat 1 ea
Bar, insect, field 1 ea
2. Al clothing in excess of above will be turned in to
S-4 or packed in "B" bag, to go with the Detachment Rear "B"
Echelon. in case of insufficient space with the Detachment
Rear "B" Echelon, the "B" bags will remain with Detachment
3. "A" bags will be taken to the take off Airdrome with
the individual and just prior to departure from the Airdrome
these bags will be assembled in individual Battery piles to
be picked up by the Detachment Rear "B" Echelon.
Official : Stuart S. SEATON - COOPER Commanding | 09 August 1944
I. Detachment Rear
a. CWO Johnson is the Commanding Officer of the Detachment Rear "A" Echelon.
b. The following is a list of personnel comprising this Echelon. These men driving the vehicles shown below
will report to the designated organization of section for loading when notified:
RANK NAME ASN VEHICLE NO. TO REPORT TO
CWO JOHNSON, MARTIN A. W2105462 HQ 30 Battalion Supply
Sgt Dobbins, John H. 31016717 HQ 13 Battalion Supply
Pvt Johnson, Charles E. 20716017 HQ 19 Battalion Supply
Pvt Hodges, Clarence (NMI) 35233987 HQ 29 Battalion Supply
WO(jg) KIRCHNER, JOHN M. W2105438 HQ 1 Battalion Supply
Tec 4 Parker, Joel F. 6984872 HQ 6 Battalion Supply
Pvt Adams, Ervin T. Jr. 35664536 HQ 9 S-2
Pvt Althouse, David (NMI) 39566258 HQ 7 S-3
Cpl Altshul, Alex (NMI) 36260626 Med 1 Medical
Pvt Broom, Norrison G. 39199743 Med 2 Medical
Pfc Hnida, Andrew (NMI) 20714884 HQ 12 Hq Btry
Pfc Nathan, Manfred (NMI) 32176492 HQ 8 Hq Btry
Pvt Litis, Theofan H. 32261651 HQ 11 Hq Btry
Pvt Peters,Robert R. 20713670 A 1 "A" Btry
Tec 5 Watts, Harry L. 31104799 HQ 2 "A" Btry
Pvt Given, Gilbert L. 15077458 B 1 "B" Btry
Pvt Shaeffer, Eugene A. 32879320 HQ 4 "B" Btry
Pvt Linker, David (NMI) 32081361 C 1 "C" Btry
Pvt Erskine, Lark A. 20912993 HQ 10 "C" Btry
Pvt Moser, Orlin F. 39323137 HQ 28 "D" Btry
Pvt Silverman, Jack F. 35144358 D 1 "D" Btry
Pvt Glodan, Laszlo Jr. 34236280 HQ 27 "D" Btry
c. All vehicles in this Echelon will carry trailers corresponding to the towing vehicle.
d. Each vehicle will carry five (5) gallons of gas and five (5) quarts of oil. The vehicle will be filled with gasoline prior to departure.
II. Detachment Rear "B" Echelon.
a. 1st Lt Keester is the Detachment Rear "B" Commander and 2nd Lt Terry is the Assistant Detachment Rear "B" Commander.
b. The following is a list of personnel comprising the Detachment Rear "B" Echelon. These men upon notification driving the vehicles shown below will report to the organization or section as designated:
RANK NAME ASN VEHICLE NO. TO REPORT TO
2nd Lt TERRY, JACK S. O1167667 HQ 14 None
Pfc Shaban, Edward J. 31069120 HQ 3 None
Cpl Scheck, John J. 32272144 HQ 26 None
Pvt Rance, Ralph W. 35386252 HQ 17 Hq Btry
Pfc Conely, Dennie M. 37310924 HQ 15 Hq Btry
Pvt Augeson, August P. 37072304 HQ 18 Hq Btry
Pvt Letinski, Joseph 33604469 HQ 20 Hq Btry
Cpl Bishop, James M. 14063280 A 2 "A" Btry
Pvt Holt, John W. 37763555 A 3 "A" Btry
Pvt George H. Sobbens, 12091720 A 5 "A" Btry
Pvt Lineweaver, Robert L. 33638310 B 2 "B" Btry
Pvt Lehman, Dean B. 33764047 B 3 "B" Btry
Pvt Laich, William F. Jr. 33791091 B 4 "B" Btry
Pvt Chumley, Thomas J. 37492818 B 5 "B" Btry
Pvt Compston, Robert E. 31136132 C 2 "C" Btry
Pvt Hoffman, Guy M. 33492792 C 3 "C" Btry
Pvt Cole, James T. 34807979 C 4 "C" Btry
Pvt Grezoka, John (NMI) 33682244 C 5 "C" Btry
Pfc Ellis, James O. 37379481 D 2 "D" Btry
Pvt Harless, Hudie H. 35771659 D 3 "D" Btry
Pfc Bongiovanni, Joseph J. 36194006 D 4 "D" Btry
Pvt Fuller, Beverly P. 6270291 D 5 "D" Btry
S/Sgt Mancini, Dominico S. 31042782 HQ 25 Motor Pool
Pfc Belcher, Jasper (NMI) 7047220 HQ 22 Motor Pool
Sgt Schreiner, Cyril B. 20745579 HQ 31 Motor Pool
Pvt Butts, Olie 35129578 HQ 24 Motor Pool
Pvt Ludeko, Raymond 32912809 HQ 21 Lt Keester
Tec4 Havig, Marlyn 37674276 HQ 16 Officers Mess
Pvt Godfrey, Elwood W. 37203481 HQ 32 Airstrip
The following personnel are in charge of the loading
of the equipment of the organization as indicated. They will be
responsible directly to the Detachment Rear "B" Commander:
S/Sgt Dolan R. Deby, 34176696 Hq Btry
S/Sgt Ellsworth F. Leland, 36150720 "A" Btry
S/Sgt Stuart Gillmore, 20716292 "B" Btry
S/Sgt Keith J. Vickers, 15338552 "C" Btry
S/Sgt Enrique G. Mendoza, Jr., 34054533 "D" Btry
S/Sgt Dominico S. Mancini, 31042782 Motor Pool
2. Duties of Detachment Rear "B" Commander.
a. At the GROSSETA Airdrome after the take off.
(1) Each of the persons mentioned in sub paragraph c above are to take care of their individual battery equipment.
(2) The Detachment Rear "B" Commander will see that all equipment at the airdrome is returned to the LIDO DE ROMA area. This includes such things as communications, kitchen equipment, tentage, barracks bags ("A") and any miscellaneous equipment which might have accumulated.
The Detachment Rear "B" Commander will see that the area occupied by our troops prior to the take off, is policed and all latrines, sumps and soakage pits are filled in.
3. The Assistant Detachment Rear "B" Commander will be responsible for the police and return of the motor pool equipment and personnel to the LIDO DE ROMA area.
4. Vehicles for the handling of Battery and motor pool equipment will be allocated by the Detachment Rear "B" Commander as prescribed in sub paragraph b, Par. 1.
5. Upon return to LIDO DE ROMA area the responsible parties assigned by sub Par. c, Par. 1 will without delay load their organizational equipment and report to the Detachment Rear "B" Commander when ready to move.
6. This Echelon must be prepared to depart from LIDO DE ROMA area on D + 1.
7. The Detachment Rear "B" Commander will leave only on the order of Commanding General, First Airborne Task Force (Rear).
8. Each vehicle in this Echelon will be filled with gasoline prior to departure and will carry (5) gallons of gas and (5) quarts of oil extra.
III. Detachment Rear Echelon.
a. 2d Lt Lewis is the Detachment Rear Echelon Commander and will be responsible to the Detachment Rear "B" Commander until the departure of the Detachment Rear "B".
b. The following is a list of personnel comprising the Detachment Rear Echelon:
2d Lt ROBERT E. LEWIS O1302917
T/Sgt Robert C. Cogdell, 7081230
Sgt James M. Barber, 14011711
Sgt Donn H. Wagner, 37072857
Tec 5 Robert V. Cooley, 34083576
Tec 5 Leon E. Dahlheimer, 37026020
Tec 5 Cornelius M. Dumm, 13022051
Tec 5 Charlie O. Starnes, 7001466
Tec 5 Vernice H. Whiting, 20713751
Pvt Edward R. Bell 20713709
Pvt Calvin H. Moody 33435191
Pvt .............. ? ......??
c. Pvt Bell is designated driver of and is responsible for truck (HQ 23) which will remain in this Echelon.
d. All personnel of this Echelon will assist in the loading of the Detachment Rear "B" and will be used as the Detachment Rear "B" Commander sees fit.
Official : Stuart S. SEATON - COOPER Commanding | 08 August 1944
(a) Prior to mission: Mess section will be set up at the GROSSETA Airdrome and hot food served until departure for mission. All personnel at FOLLONICA departure strip will mess with the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion.
(b) On mission: Each individual will carry one (1) "K" ration and two (2) "D" rations on his person.
(a) Prior to mission: Mess section will set up (4) lister bags on the GROSSETA Airdrome and water will be supplied by the Battalion S-4. Personnel on the FOLLONICA Airdrome will receive water from the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion.
(b) On mission: A full canteen of water will be carried by each individual on the drop. Halizone tablets will be carried by each individual to be used for unpurified water in operating area.
(3) Clothing and Equipment.
(a) On person: As prescribed in Annex #1.
(1) Individual weapons: As armed.
(2) Crew served weapons.
(a) 75MM Howitzers - Four (4) by each Howitzer Battery.
(b) Rocket Launchers - Eight (8) by Headquarters
Battery and fourteen (14) by "D" Battery.
(c) H.M.G.'s - Two (2) by Headquarters Battery and two (2) by Howitzers Batteries and eleven (11) by "D" Battery.
(1) Sufficient fire control instruments and plotting and survey equipment will be taken to insure adequate and efficient operation
(1) Sufficient equipment will be taken to establish
a normal Field Artillery radio and wire net.
(1) Gas masks will be carried. See Annex #1.
(1) On person: See Annex "1.
(2) In containers: The Medical Detachment will drop sufficient equipment to establish and maintain the Battalion Aid Station
g. Resupply by air.
(1) To be handled by 334th Aerial Resupply Company.
(a) Battalion collecting point will be located on the DZ or in the vicinity thereof.
Parachutes and blankets will be used for cover and warmth.
(1) Battery GRO's will see that burial cases are centralized at one locality for the Battery. If the situation permits, each Battery GRO will handle his burial cases in a centralized Battalion cemetery, the location of which will selected by the Battalion GRO.
(a) Any isolated burial will be reported to the Battalion GRO as soon as practicable.
(3) Quartermaster Form #1 will be used for all burial cases.
(1) Salvage of parachutes and equipment containers will not be attempted, except by order of Battalion Commander.
(d) Captured Material.
(1) To be used against the enemy as far as possible or destroyed, if subsequent recapture by the enemy is imminent.
(e) Prisoners of war.
(1) Collecting point or Prisoner of War Enclosure.
(a) Batteries – as prescribed by the Battery Commander, in the operating area. Batteries are responsible for delivery of prisoners to the Battalion collecting point, the location of which will be designated by the Battalion Executive in the operating area.
(b) Battalion – From Battalion collecting point, prisoners will be taken to 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion collecting point.
(c) Under no circumstances will prisoners be mistreated.
(2) Wounded prisoners.
(a) Will be treated and evacuated with our wounded
(1) Plane parking diagrams see Annex #1 to F.O. #7 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion.
(2) Traffic priorities. Plane Loading.
(a) In event of insufficient number of planes are assigned for missions the following named officers, are responsible for the placing of the personnel in other planes and the designation of loads to be left behind.
FOLLONICA - Captain SEATON
GROSSETA - Major COOPER
4. Service Troops and Trains.
a. Bivouac area prior to departure for mission.
(1) FOLLONICA Airdrome.
(1) Planes 2 & 3 of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery.
(2) "A" Battery
(3) Battery Headquarters and three (3) Platoons of "D" Battery.
(2) GROSSETA Airdrome.
(1) Planes 1, 4 & 5 of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery.
(2) "B" Battery
(3) "C" Battery
(4) One (1) Platoon of "D" Battery.
(3) Bivouacs at both areas are "sealed". No person
will leave bivouac areas except on official business
with permission of the Commanding Officer.
b. Movement of troops.
(1) Combat personnel to Airdrome - See Annex #9, F.O. #7, 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion.
(2) Rear Echelons - See Annex #3 attached.
a. Jumping Personnel - as shown in plane loading lists.
These lists will be kept up to date and final changes will
be made prior to one hour before take-off time.
b. Personnel not jumping - under control of the Detachment Rear Echelon Commanding Officer.
c. Refusals on Jump Mission: Commanding Officer of the Detachment Rear Echelon, and one other officer representative will meet returning planes at each take off Airdrome and place refusals under arrest and confinement for avoiding hazardous duty.
(1) See Annex #2.
e. Mail - Arrangements will be made by Commanding Officer of Detachment Rear Echelon to drop mail on Resupply by air.
(1) Strength - To be submitted daily by 0800 hours to S-1 as of 0001 hours of that day.
(2) Supply needs - To be submitted to S-4 when needed.
a. Detachment Rear Echelon of Headquarters - Will remain in LIDO DE ROMA until ordered to move by Commanding General, First Airborne Task Force. See Annex #3 attached.
b. Assignment of Planes on Field.
(1) FOLLONICA Airdrome.
Headquarters and Headquarters Battery planes 26 to 31 inclusive.
"A" Battery planes 32 to 45 inclusive.
(2) GROSSETA Airdrome.
Headquarters Battery planes 17 to 19 inclusive.
"B" Battery planes 20 to 33 inclusive.
"C" Battery planes 34 to 45 inclusive.