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Up Alexander (2) Alexander (3) Alexander (4) Alexander (5) Alexander (6) Alexander (7) POWs In Holzheim Darrell Apple R.E. Archambault David Axelrod


    I landed on a stump in a highly forested area. The stock of my carbine, carried slung across my chest, hit the stump first and the gun sight raked across and cut a small gash in my left jaw. I had landed about 200 feet from a small house and barn. My jump stick of 18 men rolled back along the line of flight and soon joined me. Captain Patrick Gibbons, our S2, spoke passable French, and after talking to the farm family, we calculated that we were about two and one half miles north of Sainte Mere Eglise, and to the northeast of Neuville au Plain. After rounding up our jumpers and collecting all our equipment, it was still dark, but with an indication that morning light would soon be upon us, we moved out in column toward Sainte Mere Eglise. As the sky began to lighten we met Major Kellum with about 40 men who had also been dropped north northwest of Sainte Mere Eglise and were headed for their 1st Battalion objective on the Merderet River at La Fiere.

    We had not gone far when we came to the main road leading northwest to Monteberg and Cherbourg. We heard motor vehicles approaching from the northwest. We ambushed about 20 Germans with a two and one half ton truck loaded with radio equipment, and eight or ten motorcycles, two of which quickly turned and escaped to the northwest. At this point in time and distance, my orderly, Chick Eitelman, and I headed for our Regimental and Division Command Posts to be located just southwest of Sainte Mere Eglise. Major Kellum and his group of 1st Battalion men headed for their objective at La Fiere.

    When I arrived at our Regimental CP, I found that Major Norton, our S3, and three or four Regimental Headquarters men were there and in action with a radio. Colonel Eckman, the Commanding Officer of the 505th had been there and had headed for Sainte Mere Eglise and La Fiere, which were our main Regimental objectives. We had radio communications with Lieutenant Colonel Vandervoort and Lieutenant Colonel Krause in Sainte Mere Eglise. They were being attacked from both the east and west. Major McGinty and Captain Roysdon with the 1st Battalion at La Fiere had reported being attacked by strong German forces supported by Renault tanks. In the morning a small group of Germans had passed from east to west just to the south of our CP and they had been firing over our heads and causing leaves to fall in the CP area. About 60 or 70 glider pilots from the early morning flight had collected near the CP of the Division Headquarters. I went to General Ridgeway at the adjacent Division CP and asked if I could have the glider pilots for a perimeter defense of the CP and he readily approved. I divided the pilots into four small squads and put them under command of a Major pilot and had them take up a defensive position with three units on the perimeter and a small squad of 10 glider pilots to go to the area that is attacked.

    At our CP, we were receiving reports that the 2nd and 3rd Battalions were being attacked at Sainte Mere Eglise (our main Regimental objective)--the 3rd Battalion from the southeast and the 2nd Battalion from the northwest, along the main road from Cherbourg. The 1st Battalion at La Fiere was being attacked by German Infantry supported by Renault tanks. Then we learned that the 1st Battalion Executive Officer, Major McGinty was killed and late in the morning that the Battalion CO, Major Kellum, and the Battalion S3, Captain Roysdon, had been killed. We had been unable to make contact with Lieutenant Colonel Eckman. I talked it over with Major Norton, our S3, at the command post and decided I should head for La Fiere and the 1st Battalion defending the bridge at La Fiere. I took my orderly, Corporal Chick Eitelman, with me. On the way, we had a scrimmage with several Germans and Chick got one through his kneecap. Chick strongly objected but I ordered him back to HQ where he received medical treatment. I proceeded to La Fiere.

    On the way to La Fiere, I found a group of about 40 101st and 508th men lying in a ditch along the road. Supposedly, someone had held them as a reserve. I did not know who so I rounded them up and took them with me to La Fiere. We arrived at the railroad crossing above La Fiere at about 1:30 or 2:00 o'clock. I scouted the position and found that most of Company A with Captain Red Dolan were well organized and in a good situation on the right side of the road facing the Merderet River and bridge. I approved Captain Dolan having moved his Company back 150 yards from the intense mortar and machine gun fire along the riverbank. On the left of the road was a mixed group of Company C, 505th men occupying a house (called a manor), and some 507th men under the command of, I believe, a Captain Rae on the ridge above the manor.

    On the bridge was a disabled Renault tank from earlier fighting. The whole position was receiving heavy fire from the west bank around Cauquigny--mortar, machine gun, and occasionally 88mm. through my binoculars I spotted two German tanks screened behind the buildings in the village of Cauquigny across the river.


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