Operation Dragoon

An Interview with Charles Doyle

I was a radio operator in "A" Company that acted as Battalion Radio. Prior to the drop in southern France we sat under the wings of the planes waiting to take off. One thing about the 509 Parachute Infantry Battalion was that every man knew what they were supposed to do, we were well briefed. The captain came around and said we’ll see you on the ground and all that kind of stuff. I don’t remember hearing a pep talk. They treated us all like professionals. For some of us this was our fourth combat jump, except for the replacements of course. For this jump we were all tickled pink that we were going to have some backup. This was the first time we’d have backup. By that I mean we’ll have the 551, 550th Glider Infantry, an Anti-Tank Company of the 442nd and 463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion. We had plenty of backup for a change; in the past we jumped alone. As it happened we were split up on the jump. Two companies and half the field artillery landed in San Tropez.

Our objective was supposed to be outside the town of Le Muy. We weren’t supposed to take the town, just block a bridge, a few roads, and dominate a hill that overlooked the town. The 551 Parachute Infantry Battalion and 6th British Parachute Regiment were supposed to take the town. But this didn’t happen. We had to go in and take it and that was fine by us.

Our moral was good even though most of us had just come from Anzio that was a horrible experience. For this operation we were happy to be going in as paratroopers. I don’t recall anyone making disparaging remarks. We were more or less looking forward to it this may seem strange but this is how these guys were.

We finally boarded the planes and the trip over to France turned out to be very uneventful. Most guys were either sleeping or smoking as the plane headed for France. There was quite a bit of fog but we had a full moon so we did have some visibility. Because of the fog we didn’t know if we were over water or land. This become an issue, and some guys even started to unstrap their chest packs to get out of their chutes so they could survive if we hit the water. Suddenly, we broke through the fog and saw land. We landed right on the button, even though our pathfinder teams landed about five miles from our intended DZ. I landed on a side of a hill like a ton of bricks. I always landed like that but fortunately never broke anything. We didn’t encounter any resistance.

We assembled and quickly moved to our objective a crossroads outside Le Muy and set up a defense. We waited for our heavy weapons company that had our 50 caliber machine guns, mortars, and demolition equipment. We started to provide support fire on the town. We were knocking the clay tiles off the roofs to keep the Germans suppressed.

Since the 6th Parachute hadn’t begun their attack as scheduled, Col. Yarborough, Battalion Commander approached the 6th Parachute Commander and tried to get him to move into the town. We wouldn’t move; he wanted to wait. So up came General Frederick (editor’s note: Doyle was in a position to witness this since he was the battalion radio operator) to see what was going on. He decided right then and there to take the town. So we went in. Meanwhile, the 551 was also moving into the town from the other side. I went into the town with A Company we got in several firefights. There were some that were pretty hot. Finally, we cleared the town of Germans we then pulled back out of the town.

Source: Interview with Charles Doyle by Patrick O'Donnell