Glider Landing Southern France

E-history by Bob Acree, 550 Airborne Infantry Battalion

 


 

We boarded trucks for the airfield at Grosseto (the rest of the battalion went to Follonica), where our gliders were parked and ready to go. We got airborne and took our position in the massive sky train. It was a beautiful day; the Mediterranean was bright blue and off to my left, I could see the island of Corisca. We hit the ground about 18:30 (6:30 p.m.) and I jumped out of our wrecked glider, expecting small arms fire. Encountering no resistance, we proceeded to our assembly area.

Upon reaching the assembly area we learned that the British were stymied and had not taken their objective, the town of Le Muy; so we were instructed to go through them and take the town. We proceeded down a road and pretty soon we heard automatic gun fire up front and we all bailed off the road into a ditch filled with barbed wire.

I remember it was getting pretty dark by now. From my leap into the ditch, I got a few bad scratches. We came to find out, the shooting was some of the Limeys, who were trigger-happy and had wounded our company commander. We pressed on through the British and entered a grape vineyard that had recently been regrafted since the vines were only about a foot high. T/SGT Hedrick(who later posthumously received the Medal of Honor with the 17th Airborne Division) was in front and I was two or three rows to the right and a little behind him. We crawled on our bellies to a fence about one hundred yards away. Next to the vineyard was a sawmill. Oddly, the mill owner’s used the old band saw blades on their fences instead of barbed wire. When we got about fifty yards from the fence a machine gun opened up on us. Hendrick and I stopped crawling. I remember wishing I had a foxhole.

In the vineyard, we were without any cover and darkness provided the only concealment we had. If the Germans could have seen us, they could have killed everyone in the vineyard. Thankfully none of our men fired back. The German’s sporadically sprayed the area with machine gun bursts, causing bullets to ricochet off the band saw blades creating an eerie atmosphere.

Just before daylight, Hendrick and I decided to move out of the vineyard. About that time, a runner came and told us to assemble at Battalion Headquarters. By that time, it was getting light and Battalion told us to stand by, since they were revisiting our mission. So we ate breakfast (K-Rations) and laid around for awhile. Then we (A Company) moved over on the right flank of the line and about noon we passed the line of departure, and by 15:30 we had secured Le Muy. Our platoon, the 3d, spent the night in the sawmill and manned the roadblock on the main road leading to the beach. The road was packed with tanks and trucks moving up from the beaches.

After about four days, we hiked south to Frejus, a small town on the coast. A few days later, my platoon was sent to guard General Robert Fredrick’s Headquarters.