Normandy, France

June 1944

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Joe Antrim was a pilot in the 85th Squadron of the the 437th Troop Carrier Group. He was also a very keen amateur photographer and took his camera with him wherever he went. This included operational missions which was strictly against the rules! Fortunately for prosperity Joe took many fine pictures of the historic Normandy invasion and with his kind permission a number of these images are reproduced below (see also Operation 'Dragoon' and A58 Coulommiers for more of Joe's pictures).

Below left: 1st Lt. Floyd Kelly standing beside his C-47 during exercise 'Eagle'. The men in the background are from the 377th Parachute Field Artillery, 101st Airborne Division. These are the same men that Lt. Kelly flew in to Normandy on D-Day. The picture was probably taken at Membury, England. (J. Antrim via D. Bolce).
Below right: British warship, part of the D-Day invasion armada photographed from Joe Antrim's C-47. (J. Antrim).

Below left: Downed C-47 in the English Channel. Rescue boat on hand to save crew. (J. Antrim).
Below right: In the weeks following D-Day the 437th flew numerous resupply missions to Normandy where they landed at hastily constructed advanced landing grounds. Here coloured troops are loading a C-47 with Jerrycans. (J. Antrim).

Below left: C-47 approaching the Normandy coast. (J. Antrim). Below right: An unknown advanced landing ground in France. Can any reader help?. (J. Antrim).

Below left: On the return journey to Ramsbury wounded soldiers and German POWs were flown to England. (J. Antrim). Below right: Doc. Adkins waiting for his next patient. (J. Antrim).

Below left: A C-47 taking off from an advanced landing ground. Notice how the runway surface is covered with a patent form of tracking known as square mesh track. (Mrs C. Evenson). Resupply work was not without its dangers. During the afternoon of 25th June two C-47s from the 84th Squadron, on a glider retrieval mission, set course from Ramsbury to a landing strip near the Norman town of Ste Mere Eglise. As the pair approached the south coast of England they encountered low cloud and light rain. Visibility was severely impaired and one of the aircraft (42-100888) crashed into the Purbeck Hills near Nine Barrow Down, two miles north-west of Swanage, Dorset. Sadly, the pilot 1st Lt. William Jenn and his winch operator Pfc George McElhaney were killed. Amazingly the four other occupants of the aircraft survived the crash with relatively minor injuries and were taken to Bovington Military Hospital for treatment. Below right: Two months later on 26th August this aircraft (42-100574) piloted by 1st Lt. Ralph Curtis, was forced to make an emergency landing about 6 miles south-west of Cherbourg. The outward leg of the mission from Ramsbury had taken the plane and its four man crew (1st Lt. R. Curtis, Pilot; 2nd Lt. L. Greiner, Co-pilot; Sgt. A. Fronczak, Crew Chief and Sgt. J. Penning, Radio Operator) to advanced landing ground A50C. The aircraft was carrying much needed fuel, in 5 gallon cans, for General Patton's armoured columns that were sweeping eastwards across France. A short while after takeoff on the return leg to Ramsbury both engines cut-out. Lt. Curtis recalls: "I was flying co-pilot, and probably half asleep. Greiner was a very capable pilot and I trusted his piloting skills as much as you could anyone. Both engines quit simultaneously, and as we started down I hit the wobble pump, and cross feed and tank change, to no avail. One engine did cough, but that was short lived. Very unusual for both to quit at same time. In any event, whilst still wobbling the pump and trying everything, I spotted a field in the distance and told Greiner to head that way. As we got lower, about 500' and a mile distant, I saw that the field was jammed with construction equipment and men working. I grabbed the controls and started another approach into an adjoining field. We crashed through a huge hedgerow, and the last thing I remember seeing and saying was cut the switches and fuel, as our right wing hit a tree." Both pilots were knocked unconscious by the impact. Lt. Curtis rejoined the 437th TCG at Ramsbury three days later but Lt. Greiner's injuries were more serious and, following several weeks treatment in Europe, was sent home to recuperate in the United States. The aircraft was so badly damaged that it was impossible for the crash investigation committee to determine why both engines failed at the same time. However, they did conclude that responsibility for the crash could in no way be placed upon the pilot. Standing left to right: Officers from 83rd TCS; Edward Golden, Leonard Greiner, Ralph Curtis, Anthony Gates. Kneeling L to R: Unidentified officer, and Crowe (R. Curtis)

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