Sergeant John May
Unit : 6th Airborne Divisional Signals
The following article was printed in the Wishaw Press and Advertiser on Friday 14th July, 1944.
"D" DAY JUMP - Wishaw Paratrooper's Thrilling Story
The following letter has been received by his sister, Margaret, from Sergt. John May of an airborne division (son of the late C.S.M. Thomas May, D.C.M. [Distinguished Conduct Medal] and bar, Wishaw, formerly of 3rd Lk. Bn. [Battalion] of the Home Guard):-
Shortly before 1 a.m. on "D" day, we jumped, dropped, or fell from our aircraft, over the allotted area, with mingled feelings of fear, hope and determination to do the job in the manner we had been taught.
A terrific hail of A.A. [Anti-Aircraft] and small arms fire met us as we floated to earth. It was like Blackpool Illuminations, whilst overhead roared scores more 'planes, dropping their troops all over the pre-arranged zones.
I landed rather awkwardly in a small garden set out like a plantation, and badly twisted my ankle. Whilst struggling to get out of my parachute harness, I heard a voice call out "O.K. Tommy," with a pronounced foreign accent. I immediately challenged him and received no reply. Having had some previous experience of Jerry's tricks in N. Africa, I immediately threw a grenade in the direction of the voice, and ran after it as best I could. I found my man to be a French civilian wearing an armband of some kind, and he alleged to be a member of the Resistance movement. Not feeling like trusting him very much, I questioned him closely in French (vive la Wishaw High School), and discovered I was in the back garden of a German H.Q.
I then decided that it was high time to put a move on, and as he and I climbed over the wall a machine-gun opened fire on us.
Fortunately, we got over the wall o.k., but in doing so I finished my other ankle as well, and could only hobble along.
En route to my rendezvous, I collected several members of another infantry battalion (still paratroopers), and we were attacked by German troops.
Six of my fellows were wounded but we shot two Jerries and captured their machine-guns, and continued on our way.
Then the glider borne troops began to come in, and we had a ringside seat at the most amazing spectacle I have ever seen.
A.A. was filling the sky, and the gliders just floated through it. Several were hit, but very few were actually shot down out of the scores and scores that came in. No film ever made could depict such a scene.
My next adventure was the capture of a chateau, in company with one officer and two men.
The place was very quiet, but we didn't take any chances, believe me, and it was just as well. We finished up with four prisoners, one a Frenchman in German uniform.
The days following, and the general performance of all the airborne units have, I believe, been pretty well reported already, so I won't go into any more detail about it, but all I can say is that the organisation of this party was terrific.
Having been previously in France and North Africa, I can definitely state that as far as I'm concerned, with the exception of Dunkirk itself, they were sideshows compared to this.
Nevertheless, everyone here is full of confidence that we cannot fail, and we will not fail to carry out any task allotted to us.
I fully expect that German propaganda will be fully at work at home now, but disregard it entirely and trust the B.B.C. - slow, maybe, but none the less true.
My thanks to Stewart May for this account.
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