I was a
bombardier on the
B-26 Nicks' Chick in the 344th bomb
group, 495th squadron. The following are the recollections that
I have of D-Day and taken from memory and some notes that I kept.
D-Day was my 22nd mission. We were confined to the post for a
week ahead, but I didn't think too much of it because it had happened before. But the night of the 5th we
realized from some things that were happening such as the planes down on the flight
line being painted with large black and white stripes, that this
was probably going to be it.
All the crews in our squadron got
up about 12:30, and we ate breakfast about 0100. At 0200 we went
to briefing. When we got into briefing, the colonel told us that
this was the invasion and we were to knock out three coastal guns
on the east side of Cherbourg.
As we understood then, the
Americans were landed at Cherbourg and the British on up the beach at Caen. We took off
in the dark. We flew No. 2 position in the second flight. We carried a D-8 bomb sight. The D-8 was
a simple instrument when compared to the Norden bomb sight, but was accurate at
This was to have been my first lead
mission if we bombed below 4000 feet. They told us we were to bomb no matter
what. As the weather was bad, if we bombed under 4000 feet, I was to lead and bomb with the D-8 sight, and if we
bombed above 4000 feet, the lead ship was going to use the
As it turned out we could see well enough and he did use
the Norden sight.
When we went across the Channel, the number of ships that we
saw were just, well, there's just no way to describe them. As far
as you could see there were ships.
As we got closer to the
coast, we could see large warships of some kind shelling the French coast and there were so many of
them doing it, it looked like there were fireflies in a big field,
just a constant sparkle down there as the big guns went off.
We were to bomb the coastal battery at twenty minutes before
the troops hit so we went across right at the height of the barrage that was hitting the French coast. You could see many
invasion landing craft circling to wait until it was the right time
to head in.
As we passed on across, we saw the landing
barges start in towards the beach with very close cover by a P-38's.
But we saw an awful lot of Allied planes. The skies was full of P-38s and
P-51s and it seemed like mostly P-47s.
told the night before that a lot of paratroopers went in and we had heard planes going over constantly all night. Of
course, that was not uncommon, but of course this time the volume of them
and the length of time we could hear them going over was unusual.
Anyway, we went in at 5000 feet. Most of the bombs hit the
target. You could see numerous guns on the shore returning the fire from our fleet. The light flak was very intense but we
didn't get much heavy flak. After we turned off the target, one
ship did explode and go down.
On the way back across the
Channel, we turned the radio to a civilian channel to listen in.
No one other than the military knew that this was the invasion. The radio station in England didn't know it. It was sort of
strange to be up there with this tremendous thing happening and nobody, none of the civilians
knew about it.
On the way, we crossed over what I was told were the Isles
of Guernsey and Jersey and there was some type of warship shelling those islands which had been taken over by the
Anyway, we made it back with the loss of just one ship. This
was the first time that I had ever been on a mission when we bombed
under 11,000 feet.