[page last updated 14 May 2015]
Distribution of Squadron on D-day 6th June 1944:
This parachute squadron had been split in to many smaller groups for D-day and the invasion of Normandy.
Attached to other units that may require expertise in demolitions using explosives, from anti-glider landing poles, to whole bridges and a gun battery at Merville. Consequently the Squadron arrived in Normandy by several different aircraft types and also by Sea.
As more details about who went where and how they got there are found, I will update this page accordingly.
Advanced party of Five Paratroopers from Troop No.3, No.10 Stick were attached to 22nd Independent Parachute Company Pathfinders:
(This was the first group of paratroopers to drop over Normandy on D-day. )
2 Sticks of men from the 22 Independent Parachute Squadron left in two aircraft from RAF Brize Norton
4 Sticks of men from the 22 Independent Parachute Squadron left in four Albemarle aircraft from 295 Squadron at RAF Harwell.
(Lt. P.L. Mitchley and Sgt S. McCulloch in one party, Cpl C. Stoner in another. )
Parachuting in to clear the Glider Landing Zones were No.1 and No.3 Troop
(These were the second tranche of 591 men to set off for Normandy and the bulk of the Squadron.)
One aircraft delivering paratroopers was a Stirling EF295J (D-day Chalk No.160) of 620 Squadron at RAF Fairford. It departed at 2330 on the night of the 5th June 1944. Carrying 6 flight crew and 17 paratroopers, it was carrying high explosives and was hit by flak as it crossed the French coast. With the aircraft ablaze five paratroopers managed to jump from the aircraft before it crashed. The first four to jump, landed safely but were soon rounded up and held as POW's.
The fifth to jump through the hole had the misfortune for his parachute to catch fire and did not survive the fall.
The aircraft became the second Stirling to crash in the grounds of Château de Grangues that night, followed by 4 Gliders in later hours. 10 men survived the crash, of those one evaded capture for nearly two months (Click for report), before making his way back to the squadron.
9 were taken prisoner of war. One died on the 7th June from wounds received in the crash. One officer was taken away for interrogation and later held POW till 1945 when he was liberated and 7 were executed in the grounds of the Château.
Assault on Merville Battery by PARACHUTE by Sections 5,6 and 8 of No.2 Troop of 591 Parachute Squadron
(Although they were to take part in the follow up assault, they were dropped before the gliders so they could rendezvous and ready themselves for that assault.)
The remainder of No.2 Troop to drop by parachute nearby for a follow up assault on the Merville Battery.
One aircraft delivering paratroopers was a Dakota C47 No.358 of 512 Squadron from RAF Broadwell. 14 of its passengers were captured by the enemy after parachuting in to Normandy and held POW's till they were liberated in 1945
One fatality reported from this aircraft.
Assault on Merville Battery by GLIDER- Section 7 of No.2 Troop of 591 Parachute Squadron
(The last of the squadron to set off by air. They were scheduled to land at the Merville Battery itself for an immediate attack.)
8 Sappers from No.2 Troop were to travel in 3 Gliders for the first assault on the Battery to blow up the Gun emplacement. This was known as 'G-B force' named after their commander Captain Robert-Brown of the 9th Battalion Parachute Regiment.
Horsa Glider (No.27) took off 02.31 and landed on target in an orchard close to the Merville Battery
Horsa Gider (No.28) took off at 02.34am landed in water half a mile from Merville Battery
Horsa Glider (No.28a) took off 02.37am landed at RAF Odiham at 03.20am after its tow rope snapped.
Arrival by Ship across the English Channel 8th June 1944
The seaborne contingent of a support team of 15 Other Ranks (not Officers or NCO's) from the Squadron, escorting 4 jeeps, 2 trailers and a compressor arrived at 2000hrs at Head Quarters Royal Engineers, they couldn't proceed directly to join the squadron due to enemy action enroute, but 9th June managed to complete their journey via Benouville, across the Pegasus and Horsa bridges to Ranville..
All squadron members onboard Stirling 160 /Chalk no.
Lieutenant AB Oliveira
Major PA Wood
Lance Corporal KW Branston
Lance Corporal TA Fraser
W/Corporal WA Kelly
Sapper AE Austin
Sapper GM Bartlett
Sapper JJ Evans
Sapper CT Law
Sapper J Reardon Parker
Sapper DH Wheeler
Sapper F Wolfe
Sapper J Youell
Driver G Thomson
L/Driver F Jacklin
All squadron members onboard Dakota C47 KC354 / D-day Chalk No. 358
Captain AF Jackson
Lieutenant KH Best
Lance Serjeant S Forest
Lance Corporal PS Hitchcock
W/Corporal W Torrins
Sapper J Bowman
Sapper AW Ross
Sapper TC Carter
Sapper J Blyth
Sapper JF Veitch
Sapper PC Sutcliff
Sapper J Reed
Sapper KH Fisher
Driver H Barrett
Driver A Handley
A report dated 8 July 1944 by the Pilot to the enquiry as to what happened to the men missing from this aircraft
" My run up to the drop zone from the coast was starboard of track, for which allowance was made.
I did the final run up as close to the drop zone, flying parallel with two other aircraft. We
identified the right hand edge of the drop zone and started our drop at map reference : Troarn map
Sheet 7F/2 169759 on a heading of 215 degrees M at 110 mph. The stick took 12 seconds to get out of
Signed John D Shaw Captain of Aircraft KC354 Chalk No.358
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