Mission Albatross is the most important mission for the paratroopers. 396 aircraft of the Provisional Troop Carrier Division have to drop 5628 troopers (50th and 53rd Troop Carrier Wing: 3928 paratroopers, 51st TCW: 1700 paratroopers) on the DZ C, A and O. Ten serials of aircraft take off from several airfields in Italy. The 509th Parachute Combat Team is the first unit to conduct the assault, including the 509th Parachute Infantry and the 463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, separated into 2 serials. The 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team is separated into 4 serials as well as the 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade. These formations are composed according to the cases of 27, 36 or 45 C-47 and are spaced apart by five minutes on the jump zone. The plans include five minutes of interval between each serial and a jump speed of less than 280 km per hour. The planned jump heights are 1800 feet for the DZ C and 1500 feet for the DZ A and O.
The 517th PRCT must land on the DZ A between the Motte and the Valbourgès area in order to seize La Motte. The 509th Combat Team must land south of the Muy in order to take and hold the heights south of the Muy, to cut the enemy lines and to support the Muy attack of the 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade on D-Day. They are preceded by 121 pathfinders that must mark the DZ.
The 50th Troop Carrier Wing is distributed as follows: the 439th Transport Carrier Group is located in Orbetello (3/517th PIR), the 440th TCG in Ombrone (2/517th PIR), the 441st TCG in Grosseto (509th CT) The 442nd to Follonica (509th CT). For the 51st TCW: the 62nd TCG is at Canino (2nd HQ Brigade) and Galera (6th & 5th Para Bn.) and the 64th TCG is at Ciampino (4th & 5th Para Bn.). For the 53rd TCW: the 437th TCG is at Montaldo (460th PFAB) and the 438th TCG at Canino (1/517).
The Pathfinders : View
Drop Zone C: Almost perfect drop
The 509th Combat Team is selected to be the first unit to jump in Southern France on August 15, 1944. Two serials have to drop the Combat Team strong of some 1,200 men at 4:30. The Serial 4 is taken by the 442nd TCG starting from Follonica and the Serial 5 by the 441st TCG, departing from Grosseto.
Parachutes on the DZ C start at 4:25 am with the release of the Serial 4 including the HQ and A Companies of the 509th PIB and the D and A Batteries of the 463rd PFAB accompanied by the 1st Platoon of the 596th Parachute Combat Engineer Company. Except 3 or 4 sticks, all land less than 1.5 km from the DZ. However, there is no shadow of the rest of the Combat Team. This one was dropped 5 minutes later to ... Saint-Tropez! The B & C Company of the 509th PIB as well as the B and C Battery of the 463rd PFAB are found on the coast, landing on the beaches, vineyards, even in the sea. This is what happens for Captain Ralph R. Miller’ stick, Commanding Officer of B/509.
At 5 pm, A Company’ 1st Platoon of John Frazir sent by Captain Siegel reaches the outskirts of the city still in the hands of the Germans and clash with them. The men of the 509th Parachute Infantry Combat Team set up for the night and prepare the attack of Le Muy for the 16 because the British paratroopers failed in their mission of liberation of the city. The barrels of the 463rd put in battery fire 22 shells on the enemy positions located. British paratroopers also managed to make contact with Yarborough in the south of Le Muy.
Drop Zone A
The 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team is the most important unit of all the FABTF, strong of its 2651 men must be dropped into 4 separate serials. The 2nd Battalion is in the Serial 6, taken by the 440th TCG from Ombrone, the 3rd Battalion is in the Serial 7, led by the 439th TCG from Orbetello and then the 460th PFAB (without the C Battery) in the Serial 8 taken by The 437th TCG and finally comes the 1st Battalion and the C Battery of the 460th PFAB from Canino.
The 2/596th PCEC is related to 2/517 and 3/596th to 3/517 during D-Day.
The 517th PRCT must jump 3.5 kilometers west of Le Muy on the DZ "A". This DZ forms a rectangle extending about 800 meters from east to west, and 1.2 km north to La Motte, in Sainte Roseline to the south. At its northeast point, the DZ is only 400 meters from the DZ "O".
The mission of the 517th PRCT from its arrival on the ground is to establish itself on positions dominating the approach of Le Muy via Draguignan in the northeast and via Le Luc, in the west. The 517th must try to establish contact on its right flank with the British brigade, near La Motte. His left wing must try to contact the 509th Combat Team.
Without the aid of Pathfinders ground marking, the pilots try hard to achieve the best night-time operational jettison. At 4:31 am, the first paratroopers of Dick Seitz's 2/517 landed in the Argens valley, completely scattered, but they are not the most to be pitied. Mel Zais’s 3/517 landed 45 kilometers away in an area outside their map, in a mountainous area between Seillans and Montauroux. About 20 sticks of the Serial 8 jump prematurely and find themselves scattered north of Fréjus. The unit is organized and arrives to neutralize a battery of 88mm and diverted an enemy battalion by also seizing a small town on the coast. Bill Boyle's 1/517 landed in an area between Les Arcs and Trans-en-Provence on 65 kms and a handful of man and his major Bill Boyle led a fierce fight at Les Arcs.
1st Lt. Jim Reith has the task of capturing General Ferdinand Neuling commander of the LXII Corps but he and his 15 men are dropped too far to the east to carry out their mission.
On the Drop Zone O
The 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade strong of 2000 men must be dropped in 4 serials. The 2nd British Brigade Headquarters happens to be dropped by the 62nd Troop Carrier Group in the Serial 10 and so is the Serial 11 which has the task of dropped the 6th "Welsh" Parachute Battalion and part of the 5th "Scottish" Parachute Battalion. The 4th Parachute Battalion is dropped by the 64th TCG in the Serial 12 and so is the other part of the 5th Para Bn. In the Serial 13.
The mission of the brigade is to jump on the DZ O to the west of the hamlet of Le Mitan and to seize Le Muy as well as to destroy any enemy force in the region and to defend the access of the DZ while controlling it to Allow the arrival of reinforcement in the morning and the end of day of the 15 of August.
The brigade began to jump around 4:54 am and almost all of the 6th Para Battalion commanded by Lt. Col. V. W. Barlow jumps on the right DZ. It is not the same for the other battalions as well as other sticks of the 6th Para Bn. Parachuting is accurate only for one company of the 5th Scottish Para Bn. Commanded by Lt Col. D.R. Hunter who are miss dropped into the Fayence sector due to an electrical failure of the Rebecca guidance system of one of the leading planes and the same goes for the 4th Para Bn. of Lt. Col. Vic Coxen where more than half of his battalion landed between Fayence and Saint-Paul-en-Forêt. Luckily, the other half of the 5th Para Bn. Led by the Serial 13 landed well on the Drop Zone O.
Around 6:15, the Brigade Headquarters was established in Mitan. On D-Day, the castle of Les Serres north of Le Muy is attacked and taken by the C Coy. Of the 4th Para Battalion.
|Serial||Troop Carrier Unit||Troop Carrier Serial CO||Planes||Airborne Troops||Airborne Troops CO||Airfield||DZ|
|1||Pathfinder||Lt. Col. Joel L. Crouch||3||509th PIB (3 teams)||1st Lt. Daniel A. DeLeo||Marcigliana||C|
|2||"||"||3||517th PIR (3 teams)||1st Lt. John W. Weddle||"||A|
|3||"||"||3||2nd Brigade (3 teams)||Capt. Peter G. Baker||"||O|
|4||442nd TCG||Lt. Col. Charles M. Smith||45||1/2 509th CT1||Lt. Col. William P. Yarborough||Follonica||C|
|5||441st TCG||Lt. Col. Theodore G. Kershaw||45||1/2 509th CT2||Lt. Col. John T. Cooper||Grosseto||C|
|6||440th TCG||Lt. Col. Frank G. Krebs||45||2/517 PIR3||Lt. Col. Richard J. Seitz||Ombrone||A|
|7||439th TCG||Lt. Col. Charles H. Young||45||3/517 PIR4||Lt. Col. Melvin Zais||Orbetello||A|
|8||437th TCG||Lt. Col. Donald J. French||45||460th PFAB||Lt. Col. Raymond L. Cato||Montaldo||A|
|9||438th TCG||Lt. Col. John M. Donalson||45||1/517 PIR5||Lt. Col. William Boyle||Canino||A|
|10||62nd TCG||Lt. Col. Gordon L. Edris||36||2nd Brigade HQ||Brig. Charles H. V. Pritchard||Galera||O|
|6th Para Bn.|
5th Para Bn.
|12||64th TCG||Col. John Cerny||36||4h Para Bn.||Lt. Col. H. B. Coxen||Ciampino||O|
|13||64th TCG||"||27||5th Para Bn.||"||O|
1. Half of the 509th Combat Team bring up by the 442nd TCG is composed of the HQ & A Company of the 509th PIB as a part of the HQ Co. and the A & D Batteries of the 463rd PFAB. On Dday, the 1st Platoon, 596th Parachute Combat Engineer Company is attached to the Combat Team.
2. The other half of 509th Combat Team bring up by the 441st TCG is composed of the B et C Companies of the 509th PIB and the other half of the de la HQ Co. as the des B et C Batteries du 463rd PFAB.
3. On Dday, the 2nd Platoon of the 596th PCEC is attached to the 2/517th PIR.
4. On Dday, the 3rd Platoon of the 596th PCEC is attached to the 3/517th PIR.
5. On Dday, C/460th PFAB is among the same Serial as the 1/517th PIR.