TRAGEDY AT FULBECK

© By Jan Bos, 31 March 2001

(Editor's Note: Day to day Troop Carrier operations often times as dangerous as combat operations. Loads of ammunition and high explosives were common freight and C-47's were often dispatched loaded from end to end with five gallon "Jerry" cans of gasoline to re-supply General Patton's tanks as he constantly out ran his supply lines. On the first Normandy parachute mission one aircraft of another Group was destroyed and several were killed and wounded when a trooper's rifle discharged as he was boarding. The round hit a Gammon grenade of a trooper already aboard setting off a tremendous explosion in the aircraft. Though precautions were taken to ensure safe loading and transportation of hazardous cargo the Troop Carrier forces moved millions of tons in the ETO and inevitable accidents occurred. Jan Bos brings us the chilling first hand accounts of one such accident that occurred to the 440th Troop Carrier Group. Jan is a noted and highly respected Dutch historian on the Airborne and Troop Carrier. The photographs, added to his account come from the archives of the 440th Troop Carrier Group Association Archives.)

Date: 2 September 1944

Location: Fulbeck Airfield (England)

Casualties: 3 paratroopers killed - other source mentions 4 paratroopers killed in the blast. 2 paratroopers (severely) wounded.2 aircrew members (severely) wounded inside their C-47.

Killed: Staff Sergeant Robert W. SHEARER

ASN 32670256

Division: I Company, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne. Buried: Cambridge (temporary) Cemetery plot/grave number Q-2-13. Burial date: 6 September 1944 Final interment: Cambridge Cemetery plot/grave number E-3-43.

Killed: Private First Class William R. MITCHELL

ASN 35591583

Division: I Company, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne.Buried: Cambridge (temporary) Cemetery plot/grave number Q-2-14. Burial date: 6 September 1944 Final interment: a private cemetery in the state of Ohio.

Killed: Private Louis N. SPERA

ASN 19100463

Division: I Company, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne. Buried: Cambridge (temporary) Cemetery plot/grave number Q-2-12. Burial date: 6 September 1944. Final interment: a private cemetery in the state of California.

Wounded : E.G. "Don" Walton - Service Company 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

Wounded: Private R.F. Howcroft, I Company (3rd Platoon) 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

Wounded: Sergeant Roland P.E. Dahlberg - crew chief "Bama Belle" 96th Squadron.

Destroyed: "Bama Belle" a C-47 of the 96th Troop Carrier Squadron, 440thTroop Carrier Group. Squadron identification number 6Z - serial number 43-15067.

Delivery Date: Construction number 19533. Delivered on 31 January 1944 to the 8th U.S. Air Force. 14 April 1944 to the 9th U.S. Air Force. 16 April 1944 back to the 8th U.S. Air Force. Salvage 19 September 1944. (Source: The Douglas DC-3 and its predecessors, page 489).

Also Destroyed: C-47 - serial number 42-100821. Delivery Date: Construction number 19284. Delivered on 16 December 1943. Flown to the 8th U.S. Air Force on 5 March 1944. Salvage 19 September 1944. (Source: The Douglas DC-3 and its predecessors, page 481).

Damaged: Two more C-47s, they were repairable.

September 1944 - Fulbeck, England

During the first days of September the 96th Troop Carrier Squadron was separated; the Air Echelon was at FULBECK (England) and the Ground Echelon remained at Exeter. The Air Echelon went to Fulbeck for the purpose of preparing for a combat mission (Operation Comet) into Belgium. The mission was to be a glider tow and paratroop drop.

On the second day (2 September 1944) of the month during the preparations some paratroopers were unloading mines from a truck for the purpose of loading them on one of our planes, when one on the mines dropped and exploded. The explosion killed four paratroopers and wounded two more. It also wounded two of our men, who had been in the plane at that time. Two of our planes were wrecked beyond repair and two of them damaged and repaired later.

On the third of the month briefings were held, the planes were loaded and everyone was ready to go on the mission, which had been planned. But at 1830 hrs the mission was called off due to the rapid advance of the ground forces in that area. One of the following days the Air Echelon returned to Exeter and rejoined the rest of the squadron. (Historical Narrative 96th Squadron, 440th Troop Carrier Group)

* * * * *

2 September 1944 - an accident occurred on the field when a TNT bundle discharged, causing considerable damage and injuries. (Diary 440th Troop Carrier Group - September 1944)

* * * * *

The month of September started with a move of the air echelon to Fulbeck, while the remainder of the section was taken to Rheims (France). At Fulbeck we lost two airplanes from a mine explosion, # 42-100821 and # 43-15067 ("Bama Belle"). There were no fatalities, but two men were sent to the hospital. (Historical Data 96th Squadron, 440th Troop Carrier Group)

* * * * *

From the medical standpoint the entire month was uneventful, except while in Fulbeck the unfortunately accidental detonation of a landmine, while parapacks were being loaded prior to a proposed mission. The incident served as a test of facilities of the aid station, which had been set up and which proved satisfactory. (Historical Data 96th Squadron, 440th Troop Carrier Group)

* * * * *

The entire stay was uneventful except for the unfortunate accidental detonation of land mines, while parapacks were being loaded prior to a proposed mission. This accident resulted in three (3) deaths and four (4) severely injured. With the limited facilities at hand (introduction of plasma, control of hemorriage, dressing of wounds) was rendered and patients were transferred to the 348th Station Hospital. This accident served as a test of facilities of the aid station, which had been set up and which proved satisfactory. It is noteworthy that ambulances dispatched to the scene of the accident, arrived prior to the arrival of the fire truck, and two of the injured men had to be removed from precarelous situations, one from a smoldering truck, loaded with parapacks, and the other from a burning plane. The remaining day at Station 488 was uneventful. (Group Medical Station 440th Troop Carrier Group)

* * * * *

Chief problems confronting the Air Echelon were the readying of all aircraft for a proposed combat mission. All necessary maintenance was completed and the aircraft were marshalled for take-off, when word was received that the mission had been postponed. All aircraft were then returned to the squadron areas and unloaded. Later the mission was called for again and the personnel started to reload. While doing the reloading a landmine exploded, killing several personnel of the [82nd] Airborne Division. An assistant crew chief was also injured. Two aircraft were completely washed out. One, directly under the explosion had the entire fuselage caved in, and the left wing almost entirely blown off. The inside was in complete disorder. All fastened fixtures were blown loose by the impact of the explosion. Four nearby parked aircraft were also damaged, but it was possible for the squadron personnel to repair them. (Group Engineering 440th Troop Carrier Group)

* * * * *

On the 2nd of September some paratroopers dropped a defective bundle of mines, while loading them onto our aircraft. Several paratroopers were killed and was seriously injured in addition to the destruction of one C-47 and damage to two others. Our investigation of this tragedy was taken over by C.I.C.(Group Intelligence 440th Troop Carrier Group)

* * * * *

A training jump was scheduled for the 29th of August 1944, but was cancelled the night before, when word came down from [the 82nd Airborne] Division that the outfit was alerted for a combat mission. Personal equipment bundles were packed and stored in the messhalls, equipment bundles were rolled, ammunition was distributed and the Regiment moved to the airfields. Here the procedure was the same as on the Normandy jump, but with less time for preparation. After chutes had been fitted and the entire combat echelon had been briefed everyone hit the sack for some rest previous to a dawn take-off. At 0200 on the 2nd of September, the telephones in the various hangars jangled and word was passed down that the dropzone near Tournai (Belgium), had been overrun by General Patton's Third Army and the jump had been cancelled. Immediately an alternate operation was scheduled to take place near Liége (Belgium), but this too was called off, and the Regiment returned to Wollaton Park. Everyone emitted a sigh of relief. (Excerpts from "History of the 508th Parachute Infantry", by William G. Lord II)

* * * * *

I remember the explosion at Fulbeck airfield very well. I was the Executive Officer of I Company 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division and was responsible for getting the aircraft loaded for the upcoming combat operation. We were to take off the next day for a parachute drop in Belgium in front of General Patton's advancing Third (III) U.S. Army; however, he advanced so rapidly that the airborne operation was not necessary, so it was cancelled. As you know, we dropped our heavy weapons and supplies (like mortars, machine guns, land mines, etc.) in equipment bundles that were slung under the belly of the aircraft. Well, on that that day, I sent a detail out to drop equipment bundles off under the wings of our assigned aircraft, to be loaded in the bomb racks later on in the day. It appears that what happened, was that they set a landmine bundle off the truck onto the ground very carefully as they had been taught and then, for some reason unknown, toppled another bundle off the truck on top of the landmine bundle. Of course, the landmine bundle blew up, killing three paratroopers and destroying three aircraft and a truck.

The Soldiers names were:

Staff Sergeant Robert W. Shearer (I Company Supply Sergeant)

Private First Class William R. Mitchell

Private Louis N. Spera

I had to go to the morgue on the airbase and identify the bodies. There was not much left of them. I am sure that there were only three paratroopers from I Company killed in that accident and, to the best of my recollection, there were no other Army personnel wounded. I do not know if there were any Air Force people involved or not. When the accident happened, I was in the hangar about 300 yards away. I immediately got in a jeep and went to the scene. I was told later that the accident report stated that the accident happened the way I explained it to you in my last note. I do not know who the investigation officer was and I do not have a copy of the report. The only report that I made was to identify the bodies for the coroner. In his letter by Francis L. Mahan, 1st Lieutenant I Company 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment

* * * * * *

In Ireland Lieutenant Lloyd Polette had asked me to become Radar Operator for the 2nd Battalion Pathfinder Team. We went to England three weeks ahead of the Regiment to attend Radar School. Unfortunately, I broke an ankle on a practice jump and was hospitalized, when the Normandy invasion took place. I was placed in Service Company and because of that I happened to be assigned to distribute the equipment bundles to the planes on the day of the explosion at Fulbeck airfield. On 1 September we moved to the airfields to jump ahead of General Patton at Tournai in Belgium. 2 September 1944 is the date that the explosion occurred. There was a small detail of four enlisted men under Staff Sergeant Robert W. Shearer to make the distribution of the equipment bundles to the assigned airplanes. I had a 2 1/2 ton truck with a combat (canvas) cab. The Sergeant rode in front with me and the four men rode atop the bundles. At each plane the Sergeant got out and told the men which bundles were assigned to that particular airplane. Two men would get down, the other two would toss them off and the two on the ground would pull them under the wings of the plane. At every stop I got out and boarded the plane. I am embarrassed to admit it, but honestly, since I was not authorized a sidearm, I went into each pilot compartment hoping one had been careless and left his .45 automatic pistol behind, which I planned to appropriate. We had dropped off more than half of our bundles, although the way they were loaded, there were many stacked up against the back of the cap (which probably saved my life!) and for some reason I did not get out of the cab at the next plane. I suppose I had given up on finding a sidearm. The next thing I knew, two men had me by each arm helping toward the hangar, I remember seeing parts of bodies smoldering around me. The bundles behind the cab were loaded with shrapnel and fortunately it did not cause additional explosions. I was evidently blown out of the cab and suffered concussion and perforated eardrums, but was other wise all right. The way the accident was reconstructed, someone had failed to install the safety fork on one or more of the landmines in the bundles. It was also found that a bundle of 250 lbs of C-2 [used in Gammon concussion grenades as an anti-tank weapon] also blew up. So either the mine was set off when the bundle was pushed off the truck or the bundle of C-2 was pushed off on top of it, causing the mine to detonate. Either way it proved deadly.

Staff Sergeant Robert W. Shearer was killed as was Private First Class William R. Mitchell and Private Louis N. Spera. I have no way of knowing who the other men were or the extent of their injuries, but they were so close to the explosion, I am sure that their injuries were severe. I spent two days in the Regimental Dispensary before I could head out and was returned to duty, where I participated in the invasion of Holland [operation Market Garden - 17 September 1944] and the balance of the 508's engagements. I believe all five men were from 3rd Battalion. Bob Chisolm told me that Private Spear was from I Company. I have searched through the roster, issued on Organization Day at Camp Mackall, North Carolina on 4 November 1943 and was unable to locate any of the three names. They probably joined us late at Mackall or came as replacements in either Ireland or England. (Letter of E.G. 'Don' Walton, F Company 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division)* * * * *

Around mid-August 1944, Third Battalion 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment was asked to bundle landmines for a jump. I was selected from Company I. I cannot remember anyone else. After duty we rolled the mines in bundles, mines in roll, maybe 10 rolls. A truck came and took us to the airport, maybe one or two hours from Nottingham. After a day or two at the airport, we were alerted to jump at LaGleize [Belgium]. Next afternoon duty roster had me on loading landmines to the planes. My buddy had peeling potatoes and dish washing. He said to me "let's trade". He got an "OK" from the officer in charge - I took the kitchen duty and he took the loading . Three hours later two or three planes blew up and four or five men were killed. I only know one name: Louis Spera, age approximately 22 years old, he came from the state of California. He was a member from my Company [I Company 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division]. That night General George Patton took LaGleize where we were supposed to jump. The mission was called off. We went back to Nottingham. Not for long, about one month later was 17 September 1944. The bundles were too heavy to kick off a truck. We heard that somebody dropped one bundle while loading the planes - apparently with the detonator in it - bang ! (In a letter from Charles Strong, I Company 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division)

* * * * *

On 2 September 1944 Staff Sergeant Robert W. Shearer was out Supply Sergeant. I was put on that detail first, then the First Sergeant Fields changed his mind and told me to get back in the ranks and he then told Private Louis Spera to go. Actually I got to the truck and was climbing up to the back of the truck, when the sergeant called me back. I was in the first platoon. William R. Mitchell was in the third platoon, if I remember right. The other guy was from second platoon. If I remember right he was Private R.F. Howcroft.

He got injured very badly and we never saw him again. (Letter of Harold Brodd, I Company, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division)

* * * * *

We had just loaded our aircraft with our equipment and were returning to the hangar. I was riding on an over-loaded jeep and facing aft I saw a bright flash and a puff of smoke from under another aircraft off 200 yards or so. I thought at first a flare, but then, the sound of a dull thump reached my ears, a detonation! It appeared too big for a fragmentation grenade, perhaps one of the new concussion grenades, I thought. When we reached the hangar, there was a talk of an anti-personnel mine exploded accidentally by one of the "C" boys. (Letter of Alfred J. Hermansen, Headquarters Battery, 376th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division)

* * * * *

We had just finished loading the airplanes and had returned to the hanger. There was a terrific explosion at the flight line. We went out to see what had happened. Some engineers had been loading their airplane. They were taking the bundles off a truck. Who ever had packed their bundles for the underside load, had packed a bundle of landmines and put the detonator fuzes in them. When the paratroopers threw them off the truck, the whole package exploded. Three or four men were killed, two airplanes and one truck were destroyed. (Letter of Lawrence C. Warthman, B Battery 376th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division)

* * * * *

The explosion took place near the runway. The airborne troops were unloading their equipment when a parapack containing explosives was dropped off a truck and prematurely exploded, killing several men and putting several airplanes out of commission. I do not remember the names of those killed. (Letter of Bernard L. Beaudoin, S-4 440th Troop Carrier Group)

* * * * *

I recall the incident quite well. My plane "Toni", serial number 919, was first in line. We were placed wingtip to wingtip after being refueled and serviced. My crew chief Raymond B. Clark and myself were sitting in the cockpit, reading a UFE magazine, when a rocking motion struck our airplane, followed by a loud roar and all I remember is jumping out of the plane and reaching for a small fire extinguisher on the way. Planes next to us were on fire and the small extinguisher was of no use when suddenly some one from the radio shack came over to Raymond Clark and myself with a large CO-2, which we tried to aim on the fire, which was on the wing. But we could not reach the fire. I recall then that Raymond Clark stooped down and I stood on his thighes, which allowed me to partially put out the fire. Ammunition was exploding all around us and in a few minutes the fire was under control. Afterwards we saw a crater left by the exploding landmine. We were told that the paratroopers had dropped a pack, while loading the plane. The entire work detail was killed in the explosion. In that crater, which was a twist of fate, all we saw was someone's dogtag and an open pocket bible. Roll-call had to be taken later on that day to see, who was on the detail that unfortunate day. The same afternoon I also recall or perhaps it was the next morning, while waiting for take-off instructions, another radio operator (Robert E.L. Thompson) and myself were walking on the runway. Thompson picked up a piece of human jawbone and this was at least 1,000 feet away from the tragic site of the explosion. (In a letter from Irving Brezack, 96th Troop Carrier Squadron, 440th Troop Carrier Group)

* * * * *

Prior to the embarking on this mission we had an accident on the base at Fulbeck. Paratroopers unloading parapacks from trucks dropped a pack, loaded with landmines off the back of the truck. It blew up, killing several paratroopers and setting control surfaces of two aircraft on fire (fabric elevators, rudders, etc.). I helped remove one man from the inside of one of the planes. The trooper's back was all bloody from shrapnel from the blast. He asked me "Am I going to die?" These planes did not belong to the 95th Squadron. I do not remember what squadron they belonged to. Months later, while in the shower with a bunch of guys, I saw one had many scars on his back. I asked him "what the hell happened to your back?" he replied that he was the radio operator in the plane I had helped out. (Letter of John J. Brown, Technical Sergeant 95th Squadron, 440th Troop Carrier Group)

* * * * *

The explosion occured during the noon-hour, while the flight crews were at the messhall. We

I heard a tremendous explosion and only learned the cause as we returned to the flight line. As I recall parapacks were being unloaded from a 6x6 truck, to be placed in parapack racks on nearby parked C-47's. The parapacks obviously contained landmines and whether they were dropped careless or a safety pin had dislodged, perhaps was never known, but one 6x6 truck and at least C-47's suffered massive damage. I did not know how many persons were lost. The planes were parked side by side. (Letter of Forest W. Elbright, 96th Squadron, 440th Troop Carrier Group)

* * * * *

I was with four or five other glider mechanics about 100 yards from the explosion. We were lining up CG-4A Waco gliders for the forthcoming operation on the runway. Suddenly I saw a large cloud of smoke and heard a big "bang". I also saw an object about the size of a potato sack fly about 20 feet in the air. So we walked up to see what had happened. We saw a 6x6 truck blown with all the tires flat and a hole in the ground. The C-47 with the side, blown out. There were two piles of flesh by the plane. If you have a picture of the scene, you can see two parachutes covering the bodies. The object I saw flying in the sky, was the body of a man. His arms, legs and head were gone and the body was still smoking. They put him in an ambulance, but had to take him out again for it was too much to handle for the ambulance driver. As we were leaving the scene, we found a lump of a human body about 20 yards away. We picked it up and put it on the pile. The explosion wrecked the airplane and put two more airplanes out of service. I think the planes were from the 96th Squadron. The crew chief was blown against the bulkhead of the C-47's cabin, but was not hurt much, as I remember. I am not sure about the date this happened, but it must have the day the planes and part of the gliders took off for Holland, so I am sure it must have been 17 September 1944. [Leslie was wrong about the date]. (Letter of Leslie Hauschild, Technical Sergeant, glider mechanic, 98th Squadron, 440th Troop Carrier Group)

* * * * *

When I heard the explosion I walked over across the field from where I was working on our C-47 and saw the terrible mess it had made. The truck that was loaded with the landmines was parked just past the wingtip of the C-47, that it was loading on the same side of the open cargo door. The explosion threw the truck about 25 or 30 feet. The whole side of the airplane was full of holes. The airplane on the other side of the truck was also destroyed and full of holes. The man, who was apparently on the truck and unloading it, I found his body about 40 or 60 feet away badly mangled and bloody. He was still breathing and making a gurgling sound from an opening in his throat. That really got to me and just made me sick. My friend, Roland P.E. Dahlberg, was the crewchief on that airplane, and he was standing right in the doorway of his airplane, when that bundle of landmines went off. Fortunately he had his back turned towards the explosion, or he would have been blinded. At the hospital they dug about 165 pieces of shrapnel out of his body. It was a miracle that he survived, but he had a strong will to live and much faith in Jesus Christ.( Letter of Annando Kramer, 96th Squadron, 440th Troop Carrier Group)

* * * * *

Most of the 440th Group personnel were at the mess hall, having lunch when the explosion occurred. We rushed down to the flight line and found that a group of paratroopers who were engaged in loading parapacks, had driven a 6x6 truck in between aircraft of the 96th Squadron. They had rather than lift the parapacks down off the truck, kicked the bundles off onto the ground. Unfortunately they contained armed landmines and they exploded. The "Bama Belle" received the most damage, however, two airplanes on either side of the truck were so damaged, that they would not fly the mission and had to be replaced. When we arrived at the scene (it took ten or fifteen minutes for most of us to walk the distance to the flight-line), medics had removed the dead and wounded, but pieces of bodies were still in evidence scattered about between the aircraft near the truck. I was told that six men were killed and one wounded.(Letter of Raymond H. Ottomann, 96th Squadron 440th troop Carrier Group)

* * * * *

Several of us were playing cards in the radio shack at the time of the explosion. The explosion rocked the shack. We thought the explosion was just outside. We ran out and saw a huge cloud of dust across the field, about one kilometer away, where the planes were parked. We had no transportation, so we ran to the scene. By the time we got there, the ambulance had picked up the ones they could help and were on their way to the field hospital. What we saw made us ill. There were parts of bodies. Even now I do not want to dwell on what I saw. There was a crater about 3 meters in diameter and 1 1/2 meters deep. The back of the truck was about gone. We had two men in the plane at that time. The crew chief was in the cockpit. He had opened the escape hatch and dove out. He was only slightly injured. The assistant crew chief was standing in the plane with his back to the door. He took the full force of the explosion. The medics removed over 150 pieces of flak from his body. Much to our surprise, he was back with us in just a few weeks. The name of these men escapes me. It was our understanding that the accident happened as follows: The paratroopers were loading the parapacks under the plane. A truckload of packs, containing teller mines (anti-tank mines) backed up to the plane. They were pushing them off back of the truck. One of the mines was either defective or did not have a pin in place. The one went off and set off the entire load. (Letter of Robert G. Ryan, Staff Sergeant 96th Squadron, 440th Troop Carrier Group)

* * * * *

I was one of the first to arrive on the scene the day the explosion happened at Fulbeck airfield. My plane was about 600 feet away and I was knocked down from the explosion. I jumped into a jeep with one other 96th crew chief and on arrival found there was very little we could do. There were 4 or 5 paratroopers killed and most of them we covered with blankets as they were too bad to take to the hospital. Then we spent a time with shovels picking up body parts. The mission that day was called off. (Letter of Gilbert Sherer, crew chief 96th Squadron, 440th Troop Carrier Group.)

* * * * *

A detail of men from the 82nd Airborne Division were unloading some parapacks from the back of an army truck. When they threw off one parapack that had twenty-eight [28] landmines in it, all the twenty-eight mines went off at the same time due to a defective mine. The resulting explosion killed six paratroopers and one airforce person. Approximately five C-47s were ruined. (In a letter from Kermit Jacob Shannon, 97th Squadron, 440th Troop Carrier Group)

* * * * *

On 2 September 1944 we flew to Fulbeck to prepare for a drop of airborne troops near Lille-Roubaix. On 11 September we loaded up our parapacks and troopers of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment. We were still in the taxiway [the aircraft in long lines, but not yet moving], when the mission was cancelled (scrubbed), since U.S. ground forces had arrived near the drop zone. The paratroopers never before had to climb back onto the small ladder at the rear-door to the ground. One paratrooper fell, causing an explosion (of his grenades?), then of the parapacks on his plane ("Bama Belle"). This was some distance from our ship and I knew no more except to hear stories about deaths and ships damaged.

I did not see the explosion occur. Several minutes afterward we did go by the scene and saw the damage to the plane and the others nearby. We did see still some pieces flesh scattered on the ground nearby. This happened at an aborted mission early September 1944, which code name I do not recall. (In a letter from Jacques L. Sherman Jr., 97th Squadron, 440th Troop Carrier Group)

* * * * *

We were sitting in our plane, way down from where the explosion took place. We were curious to find out what had happened. After the explosion we saw that others were going up there too. So we, myself and my assistant crew chief [who at that time was a guy called Cactus Daigel from a town in Texas] started to that place. As far as we had figured out when the reports got back to us, that these fellows were unloading parapacks to go underneath the plane. Somehow one of them was armed and when the paratroopers threw it off the truck, it exploded on impact and caused all the damage. We walked up there and saw that looked like a couple of parapack bundles lying down on the ground. As one of the guys stepped over, he found out that it was all the remains of two men who were lying there. It were just the bodies. There were no limbs or head on either one of them. When we walked back to our side, one of the men saw something on the taxi-way, reached down and picked it up. It was a finger of a person. This left us with an awful funny feeling.( Letter of Allen Stromstad, 440th Troop Carrier Group)

© Compiled by Jan Bos, 31 March 2001