49th Troop Carrier Squadron C-47 lost over Normandy
7 June 1944
Early on the morning of June 7th, 15 planes of the 49th Troop Carrier Squadron departed from Folkingham Airbase. This was the Squadrons 2nd combat mission for the Invasion of Normandy. The 49th TCS formation was led by Lt.-Col. William A. Filer, Executive Officer of the 313th Troop Carrier Group.
The load consisted out of ammunition and supplies. Each plane was accompanied by a Quarter Master dropmaster to supervise the dropping of the important supplies to the fighting paratroopers.
Target area was DZ-N in the 82nd Airborne Division area. This DZ was located north of Picauville in the Amfreville area.
Four planes returned to the homebase before they left the English territory. Bad weather caused this abort. One plane crashed in England (Oxford area) and the entire crew perished in the crash:
1st Lt. Edmond J. Gibala (P)
1st Lt. George H. Ehreich (CP)
1st Lt. Paul C. Pollitt (N)
S/Sgt. Jennings B. Fort (CC)
S/Sgt. Harold A. Hahn (RO)
1st Sgt. Daniel R. Metcalf (QM Dropmaster)
The remaining planes pushed through difficult enemy fire and successfully dropped their loads. However, C-47 # 43-15637, was seriously damaged by enemy fire and was forced down on enemy territory with the bundles still in the para-racks. The plane landed in a shallow flooded area. The crew was:
1st Lt. Claude J. Wilson (P)
2nd Lt. Evert B. Reed (CP)
2nd Lt. John E. Bagley (N)
S/Sgt. Harry G. Ossman (CC)
S/Sgt. Daniel M. Jennings (RO)
Maj. Barney Lihn (OBS)
Major Lihn was the Group Surgeon and flew along as observer.
After landing, Lt. Wilson tried to rescue his wounded radio operator under enemy fire and was eventually captured. He was held at one of the German Field Hospitals for about one-and-a-half day. By that time, the Germans were forced to retreat and al bed patients, including Lt. Wilson, were left behind. He was evacuated to Southern England and his squadron buddies learnt on the 14th that he was still alive.
Other planes were damaged as well by German ground fire, resulting in two more C-47s being lost. This was certainly not a milk-run.
These photos were taken by a fellow squadron member some time after the battle. Clearly visible is the railroad track and the Douve River. In the right photo, the view is towards Carentaan. Following the river would end up at the bridges where the 101st battled and where Col. Cole deserved his Medal of Honor.
Note the missing tail in the right hand photo. (R. Blickensderfer)