Statement made by Lt. John Prince:
I was the last plane of my element and was in the left wing positions. My chalk number was 18. I was carrying 16 paratroopers and five bundles in pararacks.
All went well until I was approaching the DZ. Four minutes from the DZ I put on my warning light. One minute after that a shell which I figured to have been 40mm calibre hit the plane knocking out the left engine immediately and damaging the right engine so that it began to sputter. I was down at about a thousand feet over the terrain. I began to loose altitude and drop back from the formation. Two minutes later and one minute before reaching the DZ I was at about 700 feet and gave the paratroopers the signal to jump which they did and also released all five bundles. None of the paratroopers of my crew were injured by the flak.
I never saw any of the paratroopers again. Based on the time of one minute short of the DZ I figured the troops dropped about five miles west of the target.
The crash landing
Since I had only one engine and was unable to maintain speed and keep in formation, I turned to the left as soon as the two hundred feet of height and went up to about 900 feet but not knowing the exact course I turned to far to the left and it later proved that I was flying almost due north. About two or three minutes later my right engine cut out leaving me with no power a all and I crash landed, fortunately in a field.
I was in my pilot’s seat and the co-pilot was in his seat. The radio operator was in the ditching position with his back to the liaison set and I believe the crew chief was on the floor in the forward cabin. After the right engine stopped there was no time for any of us to bail out. Expect for a few minor bruises and the chipping of one of Loeb’s front teeth, none of us sustained any injuries.
The plane did not take fire and we all walked out the door. The right wing was torn off in landing but the fuselage was more or less intact. We immediately destroyed our IFF set by detonating it, our radar with the axe. Charlton destroyed the bomber code and the colors of the day; we ate the eatable paper overlays but we did not burn the plane for fear of detection.
We landed about 02.45 June 6, 1944. we did not know where we were but thought we might be in friendly territory. It later proved that we were near a small village called Montaigeu, north of Valognes.
Within three minutes of the time of landing all four of us were out of the plane with our equipment. We took the compass from the plane but no K rations because the wooden box was not open. We headed out for the east coast along a foot path by a creek bed which was dry. Ten or fifteen minutes later we saw three or four men in a nearby field. They ran one way and we ran the other. I don’t know whether they were soldiers or civilians. In running away Schultz got separated from us and we never saw him again. The three of us found a dry stream bed nearby which was like a rivino and full of brush and weeds. We hid there the rest of the night and slept there all the next day. Later we found a hollowed out bank, sort of a cave, where the three of us could lie down. We stayed there all the rest of the time until yesterday morning, June 21, 1944.
Crash of C-47 #42-92415 - 303rd Troop Carrier Squadron / 442nd Troop Carrier Group
6 June 1944 Mission Boston
Serial 26 Chalk # 18
Flying the very last paratroop serial to Normandy was the 442nd Troop Carrier Group. They had departed Fulbeck airfield heading for DZ-T to drop 1st bn. 507th PIR and HQ & HQ Co. Of the 507th. They were over the DZ at 0244 hours.
Three of the 45 airplanes failed to return from this mission. One of those was C-47 # 42-92415. This plane carried 16 paratroopers. The crew was:
2nd Lt. John J. Prince (pilot)
F/O Joseph K. Loeb (co-pilot)
Sgt. Ralph E. Charlton (radio operator)
T/Sgt. Francis H. Schultz (crew chief)
All but one of the crew returned to England after evading capture. T/Sgt. Schultz ended up as prisoner of war after wandering for days in normandy, reaching friendly lines with help of a French lady, and being captured the same day. He spent the rest of the war at Stalag Luft III and Stalag Luft IV.
The wrecked airplane in France with two ladies standing on top of it. The chalk number is clearly visible, but the invasion stripes are more difficult to recognize.
(Photo thru Mr. D. Prince)
The three crewmembers survived with the three canteens of water they had with them and food from the escape kits. After five days they started drinking water from a pool, which they strained through handkerchiefs and putting horlicks tablets in it.
On the eight day of evading they got in touch with a farmer family who provided food and drinks every other day.
On June 21st they were taken by a French guide to Saussemesnil where they contacted American soldiers of the 4th Division. From there they were taken to the Ste. Mere Eglise airstrip and found a ride back to England.
Right: From Ste. Mere Eglise the crew was flown back to England. At arrival they were pictured in front of the C-47 that brought the men back. L-R: Charlton, Prince and Loeb.
Left: The men also got a good meal. L-R: Loeb, Charlton and Prince.
Both photo courtesy Mr. D. Prince