Staff-Sergeant A. H. Smith

 

Unit : "D" Squadron, No.1 Wing, The Glider Pilot Regiment

Army No. : 1445045

 

Staff-Sergeant Smith and his co-pilot, Sergeant J. Stephenson, flew to Normandy with the first glider lift in the early hours of the 6th June, carrying a Jeep, 6-pounder anti-tank gun and three men of the 4th Airlanding Anti-Tank Battery. The following is his official report on the flight and the subsequent events that took place on the ground.

 

5/6 June 44

 

Sir,

 

The tow was uneventful from the take off at 0130 hrs until we reached the French coast when some quite concentrated bursts of flak were encountered and also a considerable patch of thick smoke. The rear gunner put his red light on and I managed to keep in a favourable position. We encountered several more bursts of flak up to the L.Z. [Landing Zone] but managed to land safely and without any damage to the glider.

 

We unloaded the glider and proceeded to take up our gun position which was to the rear of the arc of guns and covered the Eastern edge of the L.Z. It was a difficult position as there was little or no cover and we had to stick it into a hedge and camouflaged it with pieces of hedging etc. We stayed in this position until 0900 hrs at which time we were being heavily mortared being just on the edge of the L.Z. and which was the apparent target for the German mortars. We proceeded from this position to go to our new detailed positions which was on the main road to the South of Ranville and was on the right flank of the other gun positions. We attempted to get to this position but on going over the (stream) bridge and about 50 yards onwards just through the village we encountered heavy machine-gun fire and the No.1 on the Gun told us we would have to wait till it was clear enough or less open to fire before we could take up our position. We stayed by the bridge till approximately 1300 hrs and then we had orders to take up another position with a company of the 13th paratroops on the left flank of the arc of guns. The Major Commanding the paratroops in this area said they expected an attack on this flank and he wanted the gun covering the S.E. approach to the position.

 

It was a difficult job to get the gun in position as there was no cover except a small hedge and we were again under fire from an M.G.42 and from Snipers in a wood about 200 yards S.E. of us. We managed to get in position without camouflaging the front, which we did later when the paratroops sent a fairly strong burst of fire in the direction of the wood.

 

We encountered no tanks whilst in this position but concentrated on assisting the paratroops to clear the wood of snipers and the machine-gun post; (using our own bren gun and rifles). We dealt effectively with all but 2 snipers who kept on firing spasmodically throughout the day and night until they were cleared out by the Oxf. & Bucks in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

 

There was heavy mortar fire on Tuesday night when the 2nd stream of gliders were landing. Afterwards the expected attack did not materialise and we had little trouble on Wednesday morning, as by this time the airborne infantry had moved in front of us and were holding positions a little forward of ours. We were relieved by the gunners about 1030 hrs and reported to B.H.Q. [Battery Headquarters]

 

Your obedient servant,

 

25 June 44.

1445045 S/Sgt. Smith, A. H.

 

S/Sgt. Smith - loader.

Sgt. Stephenson - Bren.

 

Back to The Glider Pilot Regiment

Back to Biographies Menu