D-Day 1944 has recently been commemorated because it is 75 years ago that the invasion on the Normandy coast took place by allied troops. The landings on the coast have broadly been reported and filmed, for everyone to see which sacrifices have been brought to let this invasion succeed. Less known are the massive air-landings, which, preceding on the night before the invasion took place. Here a fleet of almost 100 Dakotas dropped almost 22.000 paratroopers and air-landing troops behind the front lines of the Germans, to cut off the access roads to the landing coast, so to prevent the arrival of reinforcements of the Germans.
The Dakota, C-47, DC-3 or Skytrain, as this working horse of the American air force was designated, played a leading role in this invasion. This is elaborately set out in this book. The deploy of such a number of troop carriers, which, except the paratroopers, also had to drop war material and supplies in that night in the various dropping zones, asked for an enormous preparation and planning. Dakota pilots normally were not trained to find their way in strict formations in the night with minimum lights and under heavy defence fire. Add to that the bad weather conditions with low clouds, unknown territory and lack of good navigation in that time. All kinds of things went peer shaped that night.
The paratroopers were dropped above an extensive area, through which the planes could not find the dropping zones. They were heavily packed with parachute, reserve parachutes, weapons and artillery which made that often they already came into trouble as soon as they left the plane. Also a lot of Dakotas with the paratroopers still on board were taken down by the Germans.
After they had dropped of their load, the remaining planes turned back to their various bases in England to collect the gliders with air-landing troops and new supplies, to also drop that behind the front lines. A lot of gliders were shot down, crashed at landing through put down obstacles or were heavily shot at just after landing, with a lot of casualties as result.
The book gives space to crewmembers of the Dakotas and gliders, paratroopers and air-landing troops to tell their stories in this 335 pages thick book, including 30 pages with original black and white photos from that time. It are horrible, mostly personal stories of the surviving.
That since that invasion never such massive nightly air-landings and deploy of gliders have taken place, is a clear sign that lots have gone wrong. The big loss of men and war material has played an important factor in this.
This book contains unbelievably many stories about this and explains even extra the role of these hero’s, who, despite enormous losses still have had a big role in this invasion, which in later publications isn’t properly mentioned. The book is a great tribute to the heroes of that day and of course the Dakota!