Lieutenant Colonel Edward C. Krause
82nd Airborne Division - 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment - 3rd Battalion
The trip was very uneventful on the way over. As we crossed the coast of France, I talked to my pilot on the interphone; and said, "It looks like a good deal". I looked back and saw my ships behind me. Just about that time we hit the soup, (fog or cloud), and we started to see fires on the ground, a little ack-ack and we had some fighters come in on us and fire at us. An element of three ships was directly under us and not more than thirty feet below. One came up from under and passed miraculously between my ship and the left wing ship. I would say that in the next three minutes I came as close to being crashed in the air as I ever hope to. We tried to keep our formation, but ships constantly over ran each other. The pilot called for evasive action and we split up. Some went high, some went lower, others right and left. This split our formation and we were well spread. Just about two or three minutes before drop time we saw this green T. It was a Godsend and I felt that I had found the Holy Grail. I would say that I dropped from over 2,000 feet. It was the longest ride I have had in over fifty jumps, and while descending, four ships passed under me and I really sweated that out. Just after I landed, a mine bundle hit about 80 yards away from me without a parachute and exploded. We tried to orient ourselves very quickly, and ran upon a conical shaped field, which I remembered as the conical shaped field that we had studied during our pre-invasion briefing. Northeast of this should be the Battalion DZ Command Post which was to be in a wooded area on the Southeast end of the DZ. Further investigation proved this to be true and then I knew exactly where we were, or thought I knew where we were, and I told the people all around me. Because we were so split up, we did not have too much organization of the units. We even had some men from the other Divisions contacting us. I composed two groups, one under Captain DeLong and the other under Lieutenant Isaacs and we began to form, but not too rapidly. I sent out patrols to guide in assembling groups and about that time we saw the green flares. I could not find my original signal which I was supposed to use and likewise alternate signals were gone. We had absolutely no visual signals to assemble on. Our method of assembly was to roll up on our sticks. Our sticks formed up in good shape. The next problem was that of people running through our area wanting to know where they were. Major McGinity asked where we were and I told him whereupon he put his map away and headed for the bridge with Captain Dolan and most of Company A. We were starting to get close to 200 men in about an hour and a half of assembling. One of my officers landed in the town of Ste Mere Eglise. On his way out he saw a group of Germans and witnessed several parachutists taken prisoner and others killed, so he headed Northeast to join us.
On his way he picked up a slightly inebriated Frenchman, who stated that this was Sainte Mere Eglise, and we knew then exactly where we were. It was just before four when I made the decision to move out to Ste Mere Eglise. We moved in from the Northwest on the road that the man had said the troops had departed from. It was mostly transportation and service units that had remained in the town when the bulk of the forces moved into field bivouac several days prior to D-Day because of the bombing. Captain DeLong and I went in toward the Northwest section of town. The civilian in a white coat was carrying an American mine while guiding the way. We made him go out first so that he would not lead us into any gun position. We met no opposition, but we did meet some members of the other units, and they were all heading for their missions. I would say that we arrived in town just before light and had no opposition at all, mainly due to the covered route the civilian took us by, but in the center of the town there were spasmodic shots that became ever increasing. My instructions to my men were not to fight with any other unit but to fight with me in the town. This proved worthy because all my men concentrated on getting to the town and the bulk of my Battalion was with me by mid-morning. The remaining enemy troops in the town were apparently scared out of the town. The force which we had was just a jumbled group and in order to secure the town as quickly as possible we endeavored to establish road blocks around the town as hastily as possible, which we did. One important thing we were going to do was to cut the communication lines. We thought we found it, and severed the main cable from the town. As more troops came in we put up road blocks around the whole town. We had about one fourth of the force we expected at about five o'clock. A message was sent to the Regimental CP. This message was dispatched at about five o'clock.
(On the evening of Thursday, 13 August 1944, a debriefing conference was held at the Glebe Mount House, Leicester. During the course of the conference each commander present who had commanded a unit the size of a battalion or larger of the 82d Airborne Division in Operation Neptune, was permitted to talk for not to exceed ten minutes. Instructions were that each officer was to speak freely, without restraint, regarding any aspect of the operation during its airborne phase and to offer any criticism he saw fit in the interests of improving our operational technique in future combat. Commanders spoke in the order in which it was planned that they would land. Their statements were taken down verbatim as far as possible. )
(Courtesy: National Archives)