WERE YOU THERE?
World War II
Memories and Biography
Norm Kiefer recalls that in the weeks preceding the invasion of Europe, Allied Intelligence lost track of a German paratrooper division. There was concern that there had been a leak regarding the invasion which was in the final stages of preparation. It was reasoned that the most decisive blow that the Germans could deliver was the destruction of our aircraft on the ground by dropping air-borne personnel.
This reasoning also indicated that it was prudent to prepare for this eventuality by arming and alerting our station personnel.
On May 17th, the Microfilm History indicates that arms were issued to our Ordnance Sections for passing out to the Station Complement. The 506th received 110 carbines. This caused a good deal of concern and much speculation. It was not long after the arms were issued that we began to man the top and tail turrets at dusk and dawn.
There is no doubt that there was enemy air activity near the base on May 22. Then again on May 29th bombs were dropped near the 506th living site.
There is nothing in the official records that indicate that there were landings near the field nor that enemy personnel were found. However, personal diaries do have references to enemy activity.
Ray Marner wrote in his diary on May 22, "We had an alert and some enemy paratroopers were supposedly dropped near the drome. Searching parties failed to find them."
The Henry Siteman diary entry for May 23 told: "While waiting for take off, Jerry came over and dropped paratroopers just north of the field. A squad of men were sent out to round them up, but only came back with the chutes."
On that same day, Ray Marner reported: "We are putting two guards on each plane."
Again, on May 24th Ray Marner wrote: "Everyone is getting a Carbine and has to carry it everywhere, day and night."
The diary of Henry Siteman indicated on May 24th: "They rounded up seven Germans of the possible 20 dropped last night. Now the whole base carries arms again to be on the lookout for strangers on the field."
On May 26th, Will Lundy also reported the arming of our troops: "New Orders! All men must carry a gun and ammunition - an armed camp.
Note: Our guns were taken from us several months earlier when someone, during an air raid, shot at a crippled RAF plane coming in for an emergency landing."
How about it ... were any of you in one of those search parties? Did they find any chutes? How about enemy personnel? If so, write and tell me about it so that it can be made a part of our History.