Serial 8

Lt. Colonel Raymond Cato was an artillery officer in the tradition of "the gallant Pelham". Under his leadership the 460th had become, in the opinion of the 517th, the finest artillery battalion in the US Army. Cato was determined to show what could be done with parachute field artillery.

Fifteen plane loads of the 460th one-third of the Battalion landed close to the Drop Zone. Ten more were scattered from the DZ to Le Muy. Colonel Cato quickly assembled two plane loads of Headquarters Battery and headed for his assembly area, silencing some German automatic-weapon fire enroute. While most of the infantry were still trying to get oriented at 0630, four howitzers were in position; by 0800 two more had been set up in an improvised battery of six guns. By noon eleven howitzers were in position, manned and ready to fire.

Radio contact was made with the 36th and 45th Divisions, VI Corps, and Task Force Headquarters. Battery C and the elements at Frejus were contacted on the Battalion net. Liaison parties were sent out, and at 0900 the infantry was notified that the artillery was ready to fire.

On the coast

As noted earlier, twenty planeloads of the 460th jumped prematurely because of a faulty red light-green light system. Major Frank, the Battalion Executive officer , rounded up three Headquarters Battery planeloads near Frejus and headed west. At 1200 Frank met another group from several batteries with four complete howitzers. Leaving injured men at homes in the area, the group with a local guide moved west on a trail paralleling the main highway. As darkness approached they halted for the night. At 1800 a Frenchman appeared with information of a nearby German 88mm battery. Taking three men with wire and telephone, Frank crawled into position in rear of the enemy battery. Instructions were phoned back to lay the guns and be ready to fire at daybreak.

 At 0700 next morning one smoke round was fired into the German battery, followed by five rounds of time-fused air bursts. Confused noise and movement was heard but could not be observed through the thick brush. Major Frank returned to his improvised battery, gave "March Order", and the column continued west, joining the Battalion in firing position. Word was received later that their fire had caused the Germans to pullout with seven guns, 25 trucks, and many casualties.

Satisfied with their first firing mission, "Task Force 100" with their German prisoners continue their route to the assembly area. After a little friendly persuasion while looking into the barrel of a machine gun, the prisoners help tow the Howitzers.