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Samuel Lyman Atwood Marshall, whose name often appears as S. L. A. Marshall; published a book entitled "NIGHT DROP" which focused on the Normandy invasion and the role of the parachutists in that conflict. 

Marshall interviewed a number of people in order to develop the story line for the book and amongst those interviewed was Col. Thomas J. B. Shanley, Jr.  Shanley had been the commanding officer of the 3rd Battalion of the 508th and played a pivotal role in the holding of Hill 30 outside  Chef du Pont.

Col. Shanley, however, took great exception to what Marshall wrote and was concerned that men of the 508th would accept what Marshall had published as being factual.  As a consequence Tom Shanley wrote a letter to the 508th veterans and distributed it at the 19th Annual Reunion that was held in New Orleans, LA, from the 2nd through the 5th of September 1993.  Nearly 400 men and their families would have received copies of the three page dissertation.


Sept. 1, 1993

To the Veterans of the WWII 508'th:

      S.L.A. Marshall interviewed me after the Normandy invasion and wrote a pretty inaccurate interpretation of what happened on "Hill 30". The material I'm referring to is on pages 40 - 50 (Chapter 4- "The Affair on Hill 30"), and 138 - 150 (Chapter 13- "Hill 30 and the Millsaps Patrol") of "Night Drop", Little, Brown & Co., 1962. It is painful for me to discuss what he wrote but I feel that for my own sake and for those of you who stuck it out with me on that hill I should point out the errors in his account of the action and the incorrect conclusions he drew.

     The third paragraph on page 40 says "So it was planned that the 508'th ..... would rendezvous on Hill 30 . . .". Incorrect. Only the 1st Battalion was supposed to go there. My battalion was the 2d, which he incorrectly identifies as the 3'd on page 41 where he says that the battalion "flew undeviatingly to the drop zone just northward of the village of Picauville". Untrue. I was the jumpmaster of the lead airplane that carried the 508'th into Normandy. The group commander who was the pilot dropped my stick right on the correct spot. However most of the other planes in that squadron took evasive action because of the flak and got lost. On page 41 Marshall identifies the 508'th Regimental C.O., Col. Roy E. Lindquist as Leroy Lindquist, and me, Thomas J.B. Shanley, as John B. Shanley. At the time this book was published (1961) I had had some dealings with him and he knew how to write my name correctly. The only motive I can think of for the misrepresentation is that it would prevent either Roy Lindquist or me from suing him for libel. Anytime somebody addresses me as John B. I know that he has read Marshall's book.

     Throughout Chapter 4 and Chapter 13 of the book, Marshall frequently refers to the group of mostly strangers who wound up with me on Hill 30 as a battalion. Not more than a third of them were from my battalion. They were all good soldiers but most were pretty demoralized by the bad drop and not having any of their own officers and NCO's commanding them. As Marshall has pointed out in some of his other writings, you can't expect much -especially successful offensive action- from a bunch of soldiers who hardly know each other.

     The worst part of Marshall's write-up is his account of what I did about the Millsaps-Polette patrol. I sent that patrol out after dark on D-Day + 2 to clear the Germans off the Chef du Pont causeway so a relief convoy could bring desperately needed ammo and medical supplies over to us before daylight. At that time, to the best of my knowledge, either a small patrol or a truck convoy would be badly shot up trying to cross the causeway in daylight over that wide, open marsh in full view of strong German forces on higher ground west of the causeway.

     The last paragraph on page 148 and the first two paragraphs on page 149 are misleading- especially the statement "with the light well up, Shanley feared that if he tried to advance in force toward the farm again, he would bring on a new engagement. He asked that the column [of trucks with supplies] be withheld." The patrol had accomplished its mission of clearing the Germans off the causeway that night so that a relief convoy could have crossed successfully in the dark, but for some reason the convoy didn't come across. I waited till it was almost daylight hoping that the convoy would come, and then I ordered Lt. Polette to come back up the hill. Those men had suffered enough and I didn't want them out there on that flat, open area exposed to what to the best of my knowledge was a strong German force on the higher ground near the west end of the causeway within small arms range of my patrol. Obviously there was not going to be any relief convoy across that exposed causeway after the sun came up that morning.

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