Troop Carrier D-Day Flights

by Lew Johnston

This story is from a firsthand account. It is not copyrighted unless noted but we request anyone using this for other than personal use to credit the author and the museum.

5 Comments

  • I am glad I stumbled upon your website because I am one of those who for years blamed the leadership, not necessarily the pilots, if they had not been properly trained to function under the conditions of a combat mission. It is not only flak activity but the sheet volume of noise that can rattle one’s nerves.

    If the only attempt at desensitizing the pilots were the few attempts at Pope, then the leadership did fail the pilots. There are ways to put up bursts of smoke without shrapnel but with noise. There is no reason to include bad weather at the same time and the losses at Pope sounded weather related.

    Even if putting up shrapnel-free flak was impossible, training could have consisted of pulling in a cacophony of noise, blasts, pings, bass booms in order to provide some type of desensitization.

    Ask any ground trooper who went into a battle what the one thing they were least prepared for, he will tell you it was the level of noise and how disorienting it could be.

    So, it seems to me that there was a failure in training that could have helped minimize the mistakes with altitude and ground speed. There are few things to be done to compensate for bad weather and to the extent that many pilots stayed on course and made their drops is truly incredible flying.

    I never questioned your bravery but given the extensive and repetitive training that paratroopers and all other elements of the invasion were subjected to and the extent to create “realistic” battle conditions, it sounds to me the air troop carrier pilots were left to their own devices.

  • My father was the personal pilot to General Lee and was the first pilot to fly into Orly, France six days after D-Day so General Lee could meet with then General DeGauille. I have a very nice photo of them getting ready to leave Heathrow Airport in London and standing at the door of the plane. If you’d like a copy, please let me know.

  • I am constantly looking for more information about my dad’s service. He didn’t like to talk about it, but he was in North Africa, Rome-Arno-Sicily, Rhineland and D-Day. I know one of the last missions he flew on was liberation of prisoner camps. He was a radio operator and mechanic with the 62nd Squadron of the 314th TC Group.

    I have read several of the books mentioned here, including Van Reken’s, Johnston’s and Wood’s. I had the memorable honor of speaking with Mr. Van Reken before he passed- my father was listed in his book numerous times and he sent me a signed copy. Fortunately, I know people who still find great meaning in learning about the service of the Troop Carriers and Glider Pilots. There aren’t many of these heroes left, but I know some still have family who work to keep their memories, service and sacrifices alive. My deepest gratitude to those who have taken on this task. I miss my dad, and I’m really proud of him. RIP Staff Sargent Ashley E. Fleming and all of the others who served with him and are no longer with us.
    Mary Fleming Green

    • Hi Mary,
      I am french and look for documents and photos of the 314th TC ( especially the 32nd TCS ) based in Poix ( North of France near AMIENS ) in march 1944 for the opération Varsity. I live just beside Poix airfield.
      The 1st LT Van Reken was one of the Pilots based here.
      Would you have photos or documents who could help me to understand better this part of history, please ?
      Best regards.
      Philippe F.

  • Howard Baldwin

    I am unsure how I happened to arrive at this website, but I am truly grateful. This is a wonderful read and something that I will pass on to my friends and acquaintances.

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