Seven Days in June
(Saint-Georges-de-Bohon to Graignes)
The Norman village of Graignes sits high atop a hill
5 miles southeast of Carentan. This French farming
community is bordered on three sides by water, the
Taute River to the west, and the Viere-Taute Canal
to the north and east. Like many villages, this one
was dominated by the local Catholic Church, which
could be seen for miles. The lowlands surrounding
Graignes were often flooded, so local farmers had to
make their way by boat through their fields.
only dry passage was from the south. The Canal to
the north was spanned by the Le Port des Planques
Bridge that led to Carentan. Though Graignes was
the key to the Taute River Valley, it had no German
presence on D-Day. Just an occasional German patrol
was sent to take supplies from the villagers. The
village did not figure in the early stages of the
Normandy Invasion, not even appearing on American
Military maps for the initial invasion. Yet it
became one of the more tragic dramas early in the
The focus on Graignes was centered on the execution
of the Medical personnel and the wounded
paratroopers under their care. The scope of this
article is larger than that occurred in and around
the Graignes. The 101st Airborne dropped
to the northwest across the flooded area in
Saint-Georges-de-Bohon; the 29th Infantry
Division was bloodied at Montmartin-en-Graignes to
the northeast of Graignes.
A brief explanation of military
terminology is needed to better understand the
following accounts. A glossary will be found at the
end of this narrative.
Saint-Georges-de-Bohon and Graignes saw
their first Americans at 0130 hours 6 June 1944.
They were the men of the 101st Airborne
Division’s 1st Battalion of the 501st
Parachute Infantry Regiment. They were a part of
Serials 13 & 14 out of Merryfield, England. Author
George Koskimaki had written about the men who
landed near Saint-Georges-de-Bohon. The author has
conducted further interviews with the men who landed
there 6 June using after action reports and maps
from the book Rendezvous with Destiny the 101st
Airborne. Accounts given to Koskimaki add to the
mosaic for the events in this article.
The first Americans to land south of Carentan
actually came down in the village of Raffoville, two
and a half miles west of Saint-Georges-de-Bohon. A
stick of Company H Chalk #32 from Serial 13 landed
in this area about 10 minutes before Chalk #13 from
Serial 14 landed. Chalk #13 landed in and around
this village and consisted of men from Headquarters
Company 1st Battalion 501st Parachute Infantry. Two
of the men in this stick were the S-2 (Intelligence)
Officer of the 501st First Lieutenant
Seale and Private Chester Brooks. Brooks and a
group of 10 men assembled within a short time. They
were greeted by a local member of the underground
Jean Capiten, who led them towards the village of
Sainteny, which lies south of Raffoville.
The reception at Saint-Georges-de-Bohon was
decidedly less friendly than Raffoville.
Saint-Georges-de-Bohon was the very picture of a
Norman village. The Church was located on elevated
land one mile to the west of the village, making it
visible for a good distance. Saint-Georges-de-Bohon
sits 3.6 miles southwest of Carentan. Normally an
out of the way Norman village,
Saint-Georges-de-Bohon was home to the
12. Kp. III. Btl.
Fallschirmjaeger Regiment 6, German
Paratroopers (12th Company of the 3rd
Fallschirmjaeger was the base of the German
defense in Normandy. They would move up the first
day and engage the 101st to the north of
Carentan. Yet their first combat against the 101st
was at Saint-Georges-de-Bohon. This is an
overlooked fact in the Normandy Campaign.
The second element of Serial 14 planes 4, 5 and 6
dropped their three sticks just east of the village
The sticks were 101st Airborne
Division from Headquarters Company 1st Battalion
501st Parachute Infantry. Among those in the sticks
were the Battalion Executive Officer Major Phillip
Battalion Plans and Operations Officer (S-3) Captain
Thomas A. Chastant,
Battalion Supply Officer (S-4) First Lieutenant Newt
Holt and the Commanding Officer of Headquarters
Company 1st Battalion Captain John W.
The two Battalion Surgeons, Captain Robert
Blatherwick and Assistant Battalion Surgeon 1st
Lieutenant Thomas U. Johnson were also part of this
The rest of the sticks were comprised of men
from the Communications Platoon, Intelligence (S-2)
Section, S-3 and Battalion Aid Station.
Five other 501st planes dropped in the
area of chalks 4, 5 and 6 as well. Chalk 20
Lieutenant Bowser’s stick from Company C 501 landed
northwest of Saint-Georges-de-Bohon. The lead
jumper from Chalk 14, Captain Phillips of Company C,
landed by Bowser’s stick and Chalk 23 First
Lieutenant Edwin B. Hutchison Jr.’s stick from
Company B 501 landed in this vicinity as well.
Captain William Paty and First Sergeant Wilburn
Ammons from Chalks 31 and 33 from Company A 501st
landed around the church outside of
Sergeant Austin Johnson the First Battalion Message
Center Chief was part of the 4, 5 and 6 group and
related what happened in his plane just before the
jump. “My stick contained a Medic Reynolds [Robert
J.] the lead jumper, number 2 man I don’t remember,
the third man is Elliott [William K.] a
communications man. Behind them were Jack Parr,
myself and James Carpenter, who was directly behind
me. Carpenter was a Sergeant in the S-2 Section. I
don’t remember the order of any of the men behind
Carpenter, but I knew that Earl Tyndall, another
communication's man as well as Captain Chastant the
Battalion S-3 and Lieutenant Daniels [John T.] the
assistant S-2 officer were in my stick as well as
Lieutenant Johnson one of the Battalion Surgeons. I
believe Chastant jumped last, Chastant always jumped
the stick in training, but while getting ready for
the Normandy jump decided to go last”.
Staff Sergeant Robert Reynolds jumped Austin
Johnson’s stick. He was a Sergeant for the 1st
Battalion Aid Station and related his perspective on
this plane. “I was the lead jumper in this stick.
My job was to push out the door bundles, then lead
the stick out the door. When the time came I pushed
out the bundles and Abbott Webber a Headquarters
Medic followed me who jumped third. I can’t
remember the name of the man who jumped second.
Behind Webber was Elliott a man from
Major Gage, a West Point graduate, was the Executive
Officer for the 1st Battalion 501st
Parachute. Gage was wounded soon after landing and
was taken to the church at Saint-Georges-de-Bohon.
Here is Gage’s account. “I moved out looking for
other men from my stick when after a short time I
came across a German position. I opened fire, and I
was hit in the hand by return fire. The hand had to
be amputated later while I was a prisoner. This
ended my career in the military”.
Staff Sergeant Matthew Wnorowski and Medic Private
First Class Edmund W. Hock found each other on the
ground. They were also part of the Chalk 4, 5 and 6
grouping. Early in the morning they stumbled into a
German Machine Gun position. Wnorowski was wounded,
and Hock was killed in this firefight. Staff
Sergeant Wnorowski was eventually taken to St. Lo
where he saw Major Gage.
Austin Johnson continues his account “The man in
front of me was Jack Parr from the Communications
Platoon who jumped fourth in the stick. He was hit
right before he jumped and fell down in the door. I
helped him to his feet and asked if he wanted to be
unhooked. He said he was all right and could jump.
The delay was about 30 seconds from the number three
man to when Jack jumped. I went out right behind
him with Carpenter right on my heels. After getting
out of my chute, I found Carpenter right away. We
didn’t see anyone else until after our capture”.
Another member of the 4, 5 and 6 group is Private
First Class Robert I. Wickham a scout from the S-2
Section. He gives his account of his first hours on
the ground. “I came down in a flooded area, but
landed in the only dry spot. The first man on the
ground I found was Tyndall [Corporal Earl M., Jr.]
from the Communications Platoon. Then shortly after
that we got together with Captain Chastant. We
heard a bugle and thought we should go towards the
sound, as the Battalion has
supposed to assemble on a bugle call. Chastant said
no, that these were Germans, and he later turns out
to be correct. We started moving through the swamp
and came to a hedgerow and a farmer's path. When I
crossed the road I saw a German, the German said
something to me from a distance, and I grunted a
reply. The German realized that the reply came from
an American, so he took off. Chastant said to wait
there, and he went to the end of the hedgerow. We
heard Chastant firing his weapon, then a German
machine gun, then silence. We figured Chastant was
dead, so Tyndall and I moved out”.
Captain Robert H. Phillips the Commander of Company
C 501st Parachute also lands in this
area. Phillips gathered a group of men from other
sticks and began working their way back while
ambushing Germans. Phillips group would pick up
more men from Lieutenant Bowser’s Company C Chalk
20. Phillips also picked up 1st Lieutenant, Edwin
B. Hutchison Jr. from Company B 501st
Private First Class Robert R. Harwell was a member
of Company C 501st Parachute and a part
of Captain Phillips stick. He gave the following
account “I was in the 1st Platoon Mortar
Squad. My Sergeant was Mickelson [Paul R.]; I was
first gunner, McWilliams [Herbert] was second gunner
and Lindley [Floyd W] was the ammo bearer. I was in
Captain Phillips stick which contained men from
Company C 1st Platoon and the
Headquarters group of our Company. Captain Phillips
was the lead jumper in our stick. He was to push
one bundle, and I was responsible for pushing out
the second bundle. The first bundle’s chute fouled
which held up Phillips. After pushing the bundle
out, Phillips jumped, and I pushed the second bundle
out, which got stuck in the door. It took some time
to get it out of the doorway. The rest of the stick
followed me out. The opening shock was bad as the
plane was flying extremely fast”.
Harwell continues “On the ground the rest of our
stick joined up with Headquarters First Battalion
Commander Captain Simmons and a group from
Headquarters Company First Battalion. The men who
become part of Simmons group from Company C were:
Max Osterman, Alvin Henderson, George Hall, Cannup
[Adam L.], Duke Day, McWilliams, Lindsey, Richard
Westerfield, Humma [Warren H.] and Sergeant.
Mickelson. After joining up with Captain Simmons
and Lieutenant Daniels, Simmons sent me and Sergeant
Mickelson out as scouts. We went about a ½ mile
without seeing any Germans. We returned and
informed Simmons of this, but he said no; he thought
he had a better way. A few minutes later we run
into Germans and we were captured. I would run into
Thomas Holland from my stick as a POW. He said that
he was dazed on the jump and wandered around until
the Germans captured him”. Harwell also
brings up an interesting fact about Stalag 4B where
he spent the remainder of the war. He said that
Osterman from his stick and the rest of the Jewish
Prisoners at 4B were segregated during their time in
After capturing Captains Simmons group, the Germans
turned their attention to Company A Commander
Captain William Paty’s group. His group consisted of
First Battalion Headquarters and Company A and C
The group includes Radio Operator Sergeant Alex
Haag, the Communications Platoon Pigeoneer Private
First Class Ronald O. Schwarz and Technician 5th
Grade Arthur J. Courtney.
They were joined by Private Leo L. Beals the former
Company C Communications Sergeant, who has been
busted to Private just before the Normandy, Private
Jack M. Simpson and another Company C man Private
George E. Hall.
Paty’s group tried to dig in at the end of a
hedgerow, but the Germans overwhelm them. While
trying to escape during the final attack on Paty’s
position a few men including Technician 4th Grade
(Sergeant) Joseph F. Taylor and an unknown man come
under mortar fire. Taylor made the cover of a ditch
while the other paratrooper was killed.
Three Company C men were killed along with Harry
Roberts Jr. from Co A, and Captain Paty was wounded
during this attack.
Al Haag gave an account of the deaths of Leo Beals’
and Private George E. Hall of Company C during this
attack. Haag said he sent Hall to guard their
flank. Hall was killed shortly after, hit with
artillery that hit him in the head and back while
Beals was killed during the attack when hit in the
chest by artillery.
The third Company C man who was killed was
Jack Simpson. The wounded included Captain Paty and
taken to the church at Saint-Georges-de-Bohon. That
ended the first days fighting in this part of
Two other Co A 501st men were brought to
the Church, as well. They are Corporal William C.
Roble and Private First Class Donald J. MacMillin.
Both men were wounded in the final attack with
Captain Paty and both died of their wounds. Roble
and MacMillin were brought back and buried at Ste.
Mère-Eglise No. 2 September 9, 1944.
Sergeant Austin Johnson noted the treatment afforded
them by the German paratroopers was first rate.
“After being captured and taken to the church, the
Germans treated us with courtesy. I almost think it
had to do with our being paratroopers. The wounded
were well cared for, as both Blatherwick and Johnson
our Battalion Surgeons were there. I saw Parr,
Captain Paty of Company A, Captain Simmons the
Commander of Headquarters Company 1st
Battalion and Major Gage. Gage and Paty along with
Parr were wounded, and the Germans treated them.
Parr told me that he landed in a meadow and didn’t
move until sometime after daylight. As soon as he
stood up he is shot by the Germans and taken
prisoner. I am one of the men chosen to bury the
dead outside the church. One of the men I buried
was First Sergeant Ammons of Company A, who died
when he hit the church steeple.”
The wounded and captured were sent first to St. Lo
to begin their life as POWs. As the night falls,
there were five groups of 501st men south
of Carentan and west of the Taute River roaming the
countryside. Most eventually worked their way back
to American lines.
On the Move
The first group to rejoin American lines was a large
part of Lieutenant Hutchinson’s Company B stick.
Part of this group includes Sergeant Alston P.
Couch, Privates Lester L. Birkey, Johnny Boyette and
Hugh M. Glennon along with others from Hutchinson’s
Sergeant Couch was shot and killed while trying to
cross the Madeleine River.
Couch’s body was recovered on July 29th
outside of Carentan. Private Robert J. Foust from
Company B was also killed in that area by artillery
fire when hit in the head and leg.
The men came into the lines of Company C 506th
early on the morning of 10 June.
Lieutenant Hutchinson, part of Captain Phillips
group, will be killed outside of Baupte on 11 June.
He is killed while attacking a group of Germans
retreating from Carentan. Captain Phillips group of
17 Company C men rejoins the 101st later
on 11 June without further losses.
Technical Sergeant Reynolds finishes his account
“Myself, Webber and Elliott found each other on the
ground and never saw another man from our stick,
including the unknown second jumper. We traveled by
night and rested by day and worked our way towards
the sound of the fighting to the north. On 13 June
we were in view of Carentan. We choose to lay low
in the tall grass until the fighting quieted down.
At 1500 hours on the 14th large clouds of
smoke develops in our area, and we decided to make a
run for it. We came into the lines of the 2nd
Armored Division outside of Carentan.
Chet Brooks of Headquarters Company 1st
Battalion related the story of his group and the
Company H 501st men who combined forces
deep in Normandy. “One day we came upon an area
where there has been a small fire and we noted olive
drab gum wrappers, so we knew they were either
paratroopers or enemy who has found some of our
equipment bundles. We followed the trail and came
upon about 19 troopers from the Third Battalion. We
chewed them out for leaving a trail, as our group
had been very scrupulous in that regard. We brought
them back to our hide-a-way. In one of our patrols,
we came upon Lieutenant Seale and three other men,
one of whom was Oliver Burgess, our Company Supply
Sergeant.” Private First Class Grandin M. Johnson a
member of the 1st Battalion’s S-2 Section was in
Chet Brooks stick. Johnson’s account meshes with
Chet Brook’s account. Their group of approximately
30 men arrived back to American lines three hours
after the Reynolds, Webb and Elliott group.
last men Killed in Action to be written about west
of the Taute River was Company C 501st
Private First Class Garrel A. Jacobs and Private
William D. Cross of Company A 501st. The
details of their deaths are unknown. Jacobs is
brought back for burial at St. Mere Eglise #2 on
July 24, 1944 with two 507th
men who drowned on the jump, Sergeant Kenneth
Gunning and Private Reuben F. Lempke.
Whether on the jump or killed while moving
through the flooded area is not known. Private
Cross is an interesting example. Cross is found on
Omaha Beach in October of 1944 and brought back to
Blosville’ Cross is listed as killed on 6 June 1944
which most likely means drowned on the jump as there
were no obvious wounds.
Private First Class Harry Roberts Jr. and Private
Jack M. Simpson were listed as killed in action in
the Saint-Georges-de-Bohon area, but their bodies
were never identified. Roberts like Simpson,
Hornbaker and Nadeau are buried as unknowns even
though all both have Surgeon Generals Office Reports
from Blosville Cemetery.
The day was done for the 501st Prcht Inf
1st Bn men at Saint-Georges-de-Bohon but
the 6th Fallschirmjaeger were not. The
Third Battalion (III. Btl.) 9. Kp., 10. Kp., 11.
Kp., & 12. Kp. moved into position to clean out the
Americans in Graignes late in the day of 6 June
The 4 Companies were ready to launch an attack using
Tribehou as their base at 16.30 hours German time.
The attacked was called off as the 6th
Fallschirmjaeger sent word that the Third Battalion
would return to their original position and then
move up to Carentan (minus 12 Kp.). The 12 Kp.
remained at Saint-Georges-de-Bohon the most south of
any Germans as of 6 June 1944 now that the rest of 6th
Fallschirmjaeger Regt. moved up to St. Come Du Mont
If Graignes had fallen on 6 June 1944,
the executions wouldn’t have happened after the
battle. The captured and wounded would have been
treated fairly as the 501st Parachute
Infantry had been treated. The Priests and the
housekeepers would have survived as well in
There has been much debate about the
quality of the Normandy drop. Paratroopers
supporters claim that it was a disaster, and Air
Corps supporters claim that it was, in fact, quite
good. In Normandy, the truth falls somewhere in the
middle. Serial 14 is comprised of 45 planes from
the 441st Troop Carrier Group. The first
two flights of 18 planes were from the 99th
Troop Carrier Squadron. The next three flights were
from the 100th Troop Carrier Squadron.
There are 45 planes in this serial. 14 out of 45
dropped 9.5 miles southwest of the intended drop
zone. At first blush 14 pilots somehow became lost
and mis-dropped their load of paratroopers, but all
is not as it appears. In this case, it appeared
that 13 of the pilots did exactly what they were
ordered to do. The order was to stay in formation
and follow the lead plane. Landfall was made over
Portbail, and the formation
was still intact. The infamous cloudbank then
reared its ugly head.
In Serial 13, planes 32 and 37 both went southeast
instead of east. It appeared that planes 4, 5, and
6 of serial 14 mistook Chalks 32 and 37 from Serial
13 as the lead Element of their serial. They would
have been in close proximity to these planes after
emerging from the cloudbank. The distance from
Portbail to DZ D is 22.4 miles. Many of the planes
used time and distance for their drops. The
distance from Portbail to Saint-Georges-de-Bohon is
20.25 miles. The layout of Serial 14 shows what
happened to them after they came out of the
cloudbank. Each serial in reality is three columns
of planes. In (Diagram 2) note that the
planes that followed planes 32 and 37 from Serial 13
were 4, 5, 6, 13, 14, 15, 22, 23, 24 and 31, 32 and
33, from Serial 14. The majority of these planes
were located on the right side of the Serial.
Upon breaking free of the cloudbank planes 13, 14
and 15 appeared to have mistaken planes 4, 5 and 6
for the lead element of 1, 2 and 3. Planes 22, 23
followed suit. The third plane of this element 24
actually hit the DZ (D) while plane 20 which was
directly in front of 24 appeared to have acquired
planes 22 and 23. The lead element of the 4th
Flight seemed to have followed next and they in turn
were followed by Planes 31 and 33. Plane 32 from
this element actually dropped to the north by
Ravenoville, 5.75 miles north of the DZ and 15 miles
north of where planes 31 and 33 dropped.
Planes 28, 29 and 30 are an interesting Element.
They were the lead element of the 4th Flight.
Plane 28 was flown by Harry Beal. When interviewed
Lieutenant Beal stated “When I dropped my stick,
there were no other planes in sight”.
His stick came down near Montmartin-en
Graignes, not to be confused with Graignes.
Montmartin-en Graignes is 3.6 miles northeast of
Graignes. This stick contained the first squad of
3rd Platoon of Company B 501st. Some of
these men made their way to Graignes over the next
few days. They were led there by a red headed
Frenchman named Charles Goselin.
Plane 29 was flown by Lieutenant Edward
Cullen. This plane becomes hopelessly lost and
returned to England with their troopers on board.
The jumpmaster was 1st Lieutenant Ian
Hamilton Executive Officer of Company B 501st
Parachute Infantry. The men were part of the 3rd
Platoon of Company B. Interviews with Privates
Peter Shilingia and Dominick M. Rizzo, both members
of the 3rd Platoon Mortar Squad revealed the
confusion in the plane.
After receiving heavy flak all the way across
the peninsula, they realized they were over the
Channel and on the way back to England. The crew
chief came back and said the pilot is lost and is
returning to base.
Lieutenant Hamilton went to the cockpit door and
found it locked; there was little more he could have
done. Three other members of this unlucky stick
were 2nd Lieutenant Rudolph J. Feres,
Privates Robert Burgess and Calvin Duncan.
When the plane arrived back at the base,
the MPs were there to take the paratroopers into
custody thinking they had refused to jump. When it
was sorted out, it is discovered that the pilot had
never given the signal to jump, so the troopers were
released by the MPs. They wanted to go in the next
day on a re-supply mission. These men from Company
B never get to Normandy. They had the misfortune of
being at an airfield that is flying gliders on their
next mission, not supplies. There was no room on
the power planes towing the gliders for passengers.
An interesting sidelight to this story
came from Pilot Lieutenant Jean Crawford. He came
in after the Normandy drop to the 100th
Troop Carrier Squadron as a replacement Pilot.
During an interview, he is asked if he had heard of
any unusual stories being told about the Normandy
mission. He said he was told that one crew had
brought back their load of paratroopers. Later in
the war an order came down from the Group Commandeer
asking for that damned crew that brought back their
paratroopers. They were given a mission that
included just them on a risky mission. That is all
the detail that he ever heard of. Other members of
the Squadron have been interviewed about this, but
no one remembers the story.
Plane 30 of this element never returned
to base. This plane carried a squad of the 101st
Airborne 326th Airborne Engineer
Battalion Company C. They were shot down northeast
of Saint-Georges-de-Bohon by the 8. Battery of the
91st LuftLanding Division’s 191 Artillery
Regiment. This battery consisted of 4 105MM guns.
The plane was piloted by Captain John B. McCue. His
crew is Co-Pilot Second Lieutenant Ernest E.
Wheeler, Radio Operator Sergeant James A. Freda and
the Crew Chief Staff Sergeant Archer B. Hughes. The
jumpmaster of this stick was 1st Lieutenant Howard
L. Huggett along with 14 men from his Platoon.
Their plane was hit by flak in the Radio
Operator’s compartment killing Sergeant Freda.
Private Julius Holin was wounded by the same blast.
Huggett did not wait for the Green Light. He gave
the order to jump, and the rest of the stick
followed him out except for Holin.
Private Holin jumped before the plane went down.
The bodies of Freda, Hughes Wheeler and McCue, are
found with the wreckage of the plane. Holin was
found a good distance from the crash site, killed by
a gunshot wound to the right temple.
Some of the sticks were able to work their way back
to American lines, but a number were captured before
being able to link up with friendly forces.
This left 2 planes out of the 16 of the lost
serial. These were chalks 15 and 22. Chalk 15 is
Lieutenant Murn’s stick that included part of the
Machine Gun Platoon of Headquarters Company First
Battalion 501st Parachute Infantry.
Chalk 22 included the headquarters group of Company
B 501 as well as men of First Platoon. These two
sticks made up the largest part of the 101st
The reason these sticks were not in the first part
of this article was that both of those sticks came
down on the east side of the Taut River, and there
wasn’t a German in sight. Company B Commander
Captain Loyal Bogart’s stick came down southwest of
Graignes in the flooded area bordered by the Taute
River. Private Frank Juliano said that 17 of the 18
men rolled up on each other. Bogart is in command
but is wounded before jumping and was injured
further upon landing. Juliano felt the missing man
must have drowned in the Taute River as the man who
jumped two in front of him lands on the opposite
bank of the river.
Private Hugh J. McFadden from 1st Platoon
was missing was from Company B. Private McFadden
was actually wounded and found by a local family who
tried to help him. He died during the night and was
buried on their property. McFadden was found in the
Graignes area and buried in Blosville on July 16,
1944. Bogart’s group began making their way towards
the Church Tower to the north that they spotted at
First Lieutenant Murn’s stick dropped a few miles
south of Graignes and does not fair well in the
early morning hours. This stick included Lieutenant
Murn, Private First Class Jimmie S. Millican,
Richard J. Hoffman, Sammuel Chavous, Ray A. Magney,
Armand Nadeau, Leo J. Packham, Chester L. Beisser
and Privates William H. Love and Mel Sabre, all
Machine Gun Platoon members. Also in this stick is
Armand Nadeau part of the S-2 Section and James M.
Naff a First Battalion Medic.
Sabre and Nadeau were worked their way through the
Graignes area when Nadeau is killed by gunfire and
Sabre was captured. Sabre became a POW for the
remainder of the war.
Armand Nadeau is listed on the Wall of the Missing
in Normandy. Like Harry Roberts, Jack Simpson and
Nelson Hornbaker, Nadeau’s body was found and
brought to Blosville. Nadeau’s US ARMY ETO CASUALTY
RECORD(S) is on file yet he is listed as FOD.
This means that Nadeau is buried as an unknown.
Somewhere along the line his paperwork was lost by
the Graves Registration. Private First Class Ray
Magney was last seen at the 352nd
Division‘s (German) Aid Station at Le Mesnil Raoult.
He was treated by the Germans for wounds received in
Ray Magney’s personal effects were found at the Aid
Station, but no trace of his body was ever found.
He is listed on the Wall of the Missing as well.
Sam Chavous also listed on the Wall of the Missing,
was last seen in the vicinity of Graignes. Chavous
and Magney were instructors at Fort Benning and
Fort. Bragg and handed in their Sergeant stripes in
order to go overseas.
The last man of this group to go missing on this day
is Chester L. Beisser, also on the Wall of the
Missing. His report stated Private First Class
Beisser is last seen jumping in the area of
Nine sticks of Headquarters Company Third Battalion
of the 507th Parachute Infantry 82nd
Airborne Division jumped in the vicinity of
Graignes, France 6 June 1944 at 0238 hours. The 507th
Drop Zone T was near the town of Amfreville 15 miles
to the north of Graignes. They dropped north and
east of the village of Graignes. They were part of
Serial 25 being flown out of the Airfield at
Barkston Heath England. Serial 25 consisted of 36
aircraft flown by two Squadrons of the 61st
Troop Carrier Group. The 53rd Troop
Carrier Squadron flew Chalks 37 through 54.
The second Flight of the 53rd
Troop Carrier Squadron flew in the Headquarters
Company Third Battalion 507th in nine
planes, chalks 46 through 54. The lead Element was
led by Captain Dayton Shermer in aircraft 43-15335,
chalk 46. His Co-Pilot was Second Lieutenant Clyde
Roach, and the Navigator was Second Lieutenant
George M. VerHoven. Captain Shermer broke out of
the cloud bank over the west coast of the Cotentin
Peninsula heading southeast instead of their
intended heading east to DZ T. In an interview with
Shermer’s Co-Pilot Clyde Roach, he stated:
“I was responsible for giving the red
and then green lights. We were using time and
distance method. This entailed using checkpoints
and a stopwatch. When the time came for me to give
the green light, I noticed water ahead of the plane
and held up the green light until I spot dry land
again. I saw a town on a hillside in the darkness
and gave the green light”.
When asked if he noticed anything
unusual about the village mentioned in his account
above Roach said no. The village is on a high hill.
He is asked if he saw a fire or any other details
about the town. He said no, the town was shrouded
in darkness and stood out in relief against what
little moonlight there was. The reason this
question was asked is in his account he states that
he is sure it is Ste-Mere-Eglise he dropped over.
When told that the village he gave the green light
over was Graignes, 13 miles to the southeast of
Ste-Mere-Eglise he became upset and stated that he
was sure it was Ste-Mere-Eglise. It was explained
in detail that Ste-Mere-Eglise had a fire that was
visible for miles. He never addressed this point.
Mr. Roach said “Paratroopers could easily board the
wrong airplane. Single troopers that thought they
landed far from the drop zone could have misread
In a follow up conversation, the author
explained in detail that over 140 paratroopers were
dropped in the Graignes area, so it isn’t an
isolated case of one or two troopers. He still
maintains they misread their maps and, in fact, near
Ste-Mere-Eglise. His account actually helped to
verify that they were indeed off course. “No enemy
resistance over the Cherbourg peninsula. The
Pathfinder group (of which, I have previously been a
member) is supposed to drop a specially trained
stick of paratroopers on the drop zone. They are to
set up a Eureka-Rebecca transmitter for us to
home-in on, and no signal is ever received”.
His statement that there is no enemy resistance
would be valid for a flight from the west coast down
to Graignes. The units from his Serial that drop in
the vicinity of the DZ report heavy anti-aircraft
fire. The lack of a signal from the Pathfinder team
also showed that they are not in the area of the
DZ. The 507th Pathfinder team did get
the transmitters up that were picked up by the
incoming aircraft. The Flight of nine actually
followed orders stating that if they became unsure
of their location to then drop the unit they are
flying as a group. Headquarters Company Third
Battalion 507th drops in the same area.
Three other planes from Headquarters Company Third
Battalion 507th were part of another
Serial, and they came down in the la Fiere area,
near their intended Drop Zone.
At first light a mixed group of Mortar men and
Machine Gun men from Headquarters Company Third
Battalion 507th along with Captain Leroy
“Dave” Brummitt the Battalion S-3 Officer and Staff
Sergeant Robert A. Salewski the Battalion Sergeant
Major were the first 82nd men in the
village of Graignes.
Two more men that arrived a short time later and
joined the Brummitt group were Machine Gunner John
J. Hinchliff and his Assistant Gunner Patrick
Sullivan. Sullivan was the old man in the Machine
Gun Platoon at age 35. Brummitt ordered a defensive
perimeter around the village.
During the morning, more troops wandered in wet and
lost. They are drawn to the church steeple which
can be seen from all points in the swamps that
At 0830 hours, two Glider Pilots from
the 434th Troop Carrier Group came in
with their two passengers from the 81st
Airborne Anti-Aircraft Battalion.
This group included 2nd Lieutenant Thomas
O. Ahmad, Flight Officer Irwin J. Morales both of
the 74th Troop Carrier Squadron and
Private First Class George A. Brown along with
Private First Class First Class Lester H. Norwood
both members of the 81st AAA Battalion
Battery B. They landed southwest of the village at
0400 hours. Their glider was cut loose far past
their intended Landing Zone E. They arrived in
France aboard a CG-4A glider or Waco as it was
commonly referred to.
The arrival of Captains Richard H.
Chapman and Abraham Sophian Jr., the Headquarters
Company Third Battalion 507th Commander
and Battalion Surgeon respectively occurred at 0900
hours. They were accompanied by Chapman’s Radio
Operator Technician 4th Grade Joseph M. Schieble,
Lineman Private Carlos J. Hurtado and a few other
men. At 0930 hours, another group came in from the
swamps. This group included 1st Lieutenant Elmer F.
Hoffman the Battalion S-4 (Supply) Officer and the
rest of Captain Brummitt’s stick. This stick
consists of men from the S-4 section as well as half
of the section of attached Demolitions men from
Regimental Headquarters Company. Three men from
Captain Chapman’s stick also were part of this
group, Staff Sergeant Kenneth L. Jenkins and two
Medics, Medical Detachment Staff Sergeant Nelson F.
Hornbaker and Private Robert R. Miller.
A group of three men who found each
other in the swamps were Private First Class Frank
P. Costa, Technician 5th Grade Leroy “Leo” Smith and
Corporal Edward W. Stranko all of the Communications
Platoon. They took two hours to get to dry land and
then locate a group of approximately 100
Paratroopers gathered at the Rigault farm at Le Port
St. Pierre, north of Graignes. The farm was close
to the le Port des Planques Bridge north of
Graignes. This was the only northern crossing that
led to Carentan. This bridge would become a key
piece of real estate later in the week. Among the
group gathered at the farm was Sergeant Benton J.
Broussard a French speaking soldier from Louisiana,
Corporal Durward M. Biggerstaff, Private Frederic D.
Boyle Jr. all members of the Mortar Platoon and
Sergeant Rufus B. Carr of the Machine Gun Platoon.
This group would arrive in Graignes later in the day
on 6 June.
Major Charles D. Johnston the Battalion
Executive Officer and the Communications Officer
First Lieutenant Francis E. Naughton along with
Technician 5th Grade Richard E. Reese the Company
Clerk arrived in the village about 1000 hours.
Their group also included the Communications
Sergeant Staff Sergeant Edward A. Cannon and Wireman
Private First Class Lief J. Olsen.
Major Johnston was the senior officer and
assumes overall command.
Over the objections of the Third
Battalion S-3 Captain “Leroy” Dave” Brummitt Major
Johnston decides to remain and defend the village.
Brummitt argued that the men there could reach
American lines and that their place was with their
Regiment. The Third Battalion was essentially
headless without the Headquarters Company. Even
though not in agreement with Johnston, Brummitt
accepted the decision and started to lay out the
defense of the village. The one thing they had was
Machine Guns and Machine Gunners. They were a large
number of the Machine Gun Platoon from the 507th
and some 501st Machine Gunners from
Murn’s plane, as well. The rest of 6 June saw the
townspeople of Graignes got food and retrieved
bundles for the 82nd and 101st
men in the village.
The Mayor of Graignes Alphonse Voydie
called the townspeople together to ask them if they
would support the Americans in their midst. The
response was overwhelmingly yes. The Mayor
organized the people to retrieve bundles and bring
supplies to the village. Madame Boursier who ran
the local café and grocery acted as Supply and Mess
Sergeant. She took it upon herself to feed the
troops and went to neighboring villages for food.
Pigeons were used when the unit was out
of radio contact. The end of the first day saw the
first pigeon released with the message “Am in
Graignes. Coordinates Four One Five Eight Zero Zero
with practically all of Hardware. Blue three four
behind enemy lines. No contact with friendly
forces. Am remaining in position. Impossible to
get to Regiment. Signed Johnston Major”. The
message is found on a dead pigeon 8 June.
A patrol was sent to the glider landing site to try
and retrieve the jeep that was inside. Due to the
wet conditions, it was impossible to get the Jeep
out of the flooded area.
The 507th had a Demolition
Platoon that was part of Regimental Headquarters
Company. They were split into three sections, one
for each Battalion. The Third Battalion chose to
break the section down further. Seven men (6
enlisted men and their officer) went with the group
of three Third Battalion planes that landed around
la Fiere and 6 are assigned to a chalk 49. Their
mission was to blow up bridges, handle mines and
building bridges and other structures as needed. In
Graignes, they were the Demolition men who along
with Lieutenant Naughton would blow the bridge north
of town in the face on the oncoming Germans with 10
During the afternoon hours of 6 June
more men from the 101st Airborne made
their way to Graignes. These men were from the 501st
Company B and Headquarters Company 1st Battalion.
Company B Commander Captain Loyal Bogart was helped
into town by members of his stick including Private
First Class Frank Juliano. Bogart was wounded
before jumping, and then injured again while
landing. He wanted to be left behind, but his men
The names of the other 501st Company B
men who came into town with Bogart are Staff
Sergeant George A. Faulkner Company Supply Sergeant,
Sergeant John Piotrowicz, Radio Man Technician 4th
Grade Roy M. Callahan, Private Herbert Weiss Company
Runner, Technician 5th Grade
John F. McNally Company Mail Orderly and Private
Peter Sass, Company Clerk. Captain Bogart of 501
Company B was unable to perform his duties due to
his injuries. He volunteered to run the switchboard
at the CP and his request was granted.
Lieutenant Naughton led a patrol at 1300 hours 6
June out of Graignes to locate friendly forces.
This patrol returned 7 June 1944 at 0230 hours with
1st Lieutenant Lowell C. Maxwell the Mortar Platoon
assistant officer and 1st Lieutenant
Wagner the Battalion S-1 (Personnel) Officer.
The first full day in France 7 June 1944 began.
Defenses were firmed up; a few more men arrived, but
otherwise was quiet. Just one meal was served that
day due to a lack of food. Activity was seen to the
west across the flooded area in
Saint-Andre-de-Bohon, which was the 6th
Fallschirmjaeger moving up to Carentan. Another
attempt was made to retrieve the jeep from the
glider, which was again unsuccessful. Captain
Brummitt led a 30 man patrol towards Carentan while
searching for heavy weapons. South of Carentan
Brummitt noted that Americans were engaged with
Germans for control of the city.
The 7th also saw the arrival
at 0600 of three men from Lieutenant Murn’s stick.
These were the last 3 men who’d jumped from that
stick that took 28 hours to get to Graignes. They
were Private First Class Jimmie Millican, Private
William Love and Private First Class Fred Weagley.
Two more men made their way into the village. One
was Private Joe Stefaniak the runner for Company G.
He and another 507th man wandered the
swamps for a full day before making their way in.
Stefaniak was the last man in chalk 46, the lead
plane of the 507th serial.
Flight Sergeant Stanley K. Black made his way into
the village on the 8 June. Sergeant Black an
Australian was a member of a British Lancaster crew
that was shot down early on the morning of the 7
June. He was one of two members of the 7 man crew
who bailed out of the burning plane. He landed
close by the village of Saint-Jean-de-Daye. He was
taken in by Monsieur Desire Cardin. The next day
word came that there were American paratroopers in
the next village, Graignes. Black put on civilian
clothes over his uniform and was taken to Graignes.
Before leaving he left Monsieur Cardin his photo
from his RAF (Royal Air Force) identification card.
The only activity on 8 June was a patrol
led by Lieutenant Maxwell to Carentan that left at
2200 hours. The patrol reached the Le Port des
Planques Bridge. There they ran into a retreating
German Artillery unit. A skirmish ensues and the
patrol was scattered and returns to Graignes one by
one during the early morning hours of 9 June.
Sergeant Hornbaker is wounded in the wrist during
The arrival of two paratroopers rounded out the
Airborne at Graignes. On 9 June Private Robert I.
Wickham and Corporal Earl Tyndall Jr. from
Headquarters Company 1st Battalion 501st
were brought in by a French Farmer who had hidden
them in his fields. He brought them across the
flooded area from Saint-Andre-du-Bohon. They had
received a note that said “Join us in Graignes,
Murn”. Wickham was part of the S-2 Section, and
Tyndall a Communications man.
Lieutenant Francis Naughton led a patrol out on the
9 June to the Le Port des Planques
Bridge. Their mission was to destroy the bridge,
denying the Germans the ability to attack from the
North. Naughton sent a two man team across the
bridge to the North end to serve as scouts. The
Demolition Squad told Naughton it would take half an
hour to wire the bridge for demolition. At the 25
minute mark, the scouts came under fire from an
advanced German patrol. They retreated across the
bridge to the South side. Just as the Germans were
advancing across the bridge, the Demolition Section
blew up the bridge.
This brought the action for 9 June to a close.
More patrols were sent out on 10 June
1944, and the second pigeon was released. The last
two men who joined the defenders of Graignes are
from the 29th Infantry Division. They
were from Company E 175th Infantry.
Sergeant Rees and Private First Class Edward
Bochniasz were separated from their Company in an
attack across the Vire River west of Isigny-sur-Mer
during the night of 9 June. Bochniasz and Technical
Sergeant Paul A. Meluh the platoon Sergeant and
Sergeant Robert L. Rees were together when the
Germans counterattacked in the night. Sergeant
Meluh said he became separated from Rees and
Bochniasz, never seeing them again.
A short distance south of where they were
separated was the road to Graignes. The two 29th
men arrived in the village during the morning of the
10th. Bochniasz was a BAR man and his
gun was gladly added to the defenses in and around
10 June saw two French speaking
Spaniards join the men in Graignes. They were
members of the German Toldt organization.
There was a group of 507th men who had
holed up in a house by the bridge north of the
village. They would join on 10 June. During their
time in this house, they located two 507th
men who had drowned on the jump, Sergeant Kenneth
Gunning and Private Reuben F. Lempke. Gunning and
Lempke had jumped 4th and 5th
in their stick. The body of the number 14 man in
this stick Private Thomas E. Maltby of Headquarters
Company Third Battalion 507th was found
dead north of Graignes on July 8, 1944 and was
buried in St. Mere Eglise #2. This was Chalk 49 a
stick of Machine Gunners whose jumpmaster was 1st
Lieutenant Earcle “Pip” Reed.
Private Richard “Dick” D. Sundberg was also part of
Not all of the men who jumped in the
Graignes area made their way to the village. Some,
not knowing their position worked their way north
alone. Private George Smudin of the 507th
worked his way towards Carentan but was captured on
the third day. Smudin nursed an arm wound sustained
on the jump. After being captured, he was sent
north to Cherbourg. On 11 June he was being marched
to the south as part of a large American POW column
when it is strafed by American planes.
 Jean Tessier another
Third Battalion Headquarters man is also captured
after the jump. Tessier’s name appears on the
monument in Graignes as being killed, but actually
died in 1972. A Medic, John I. Pavkov, was also
captured on his own. He was wounded when captured
on the third day.
Tessier, Pavkov and Smudin spent the remainder of
the war as POWs.
Private Harold J. Premo was killed
shortly after the jump outside of Graignes and was
buried in an isolated grave. Premo was killed by
Artillery when he is hit in the neck.
The number 182 has been listed as the
total of men and officers in the village on the
morning of 11 June. There were 142 507th
men who jumped in the nine sticks, between 32-36 101st
men in their two sticks, 4 men from the glider and
at least 3 men who made their way in from across the
flooded area on the 10th. Two men from
the 29th Infantry Division joined them on
the 10th, as well. One man from the
Royal Air Force was also in the village, having
joined them on the 7th. This was a grand
total of a 187 men. On the morning of the 11th,
the Battalion S-3 Journal listed 14 Officers and 168
The 14 Officers were Major Johnston
Third Battalion Executive Officer, Captains Brummitt
Battalion S-3, Chapman Headquarters Third Battalion
Company Commander, Bogart 501st Company B
Commander, Sophian Third Battalion Surgeon. First
Lieutenants Communications Officer Naughton,
Machine Gun Officer Reed, Battalion S-4 Hoffman,
Battalion S-1 Wagner, Assistant Mortar Officer
Maxwell, Mortar Officer Farnham, Machine Gun Officer
First Battalion Headquarters Company 501st
Murn and Second Lieutenant Ahmad and Flight Officer
Morales the two glider pilots.
At 1100 hours a church service started
with villagers and members of the 507th
and 501st in attendance. A patrol
consisting of 501st Company B men were
sent out that includes Frank Juliano and Sergeant
John Piotrowicz. Private Peter Sass of 501st
Company B shot up a German sidecar, killing one.
Sergeant Salewski went to investigate, and
found no unit ID or name on the body and returned
shortly before the first attack at 1230 hours.
Outpost (OP) 3 reported enemy fire. An enemy
amphibious Jeep with 3 men was ambushed; the driver
is killed, and two Germans wounded. There were
continual probes of the American lines all
Joe Stefaniak and another trooper had
been on outpost duty since 7 June. Joe begins “I
was a runner between my Company G and Headquarters
Company Third Battalion. Seeing as I wasn’t
anywhere near my Company they stuck me on outpost
duty with this guy I didn’t know. I remained in
that house until 11th of June when
ordered back to the village before the final
attack”. Joe continued “I had a German lined up in
my sites, when the other man on outpost duty with me
comes in and said we had orders to fall back to the
village. I regret to this day not being able to
shoot, I had him lined up”.
Lieutenant Farnham the Mortar Officer reported 12
truckloads of Infantry had arrived at Rauline to the
south. During the afternoon Outposts 2 & 3 were
pulled back 200 yards due to increased enemy
activity. During the afternoon, the Mortar Platoon
knocked out the German mortar position that had been
harassing the Americans since early afternoon.
The Americans don’t know the unit they were now
engaged was the 17th SS Panzer Grenadier
Division. This Company of Americans were now facing
the 38th Regiment of the 17th
SS, who outnumber them 10 to 1.
The Germans broke off the probing
attacks at 1900 hours. What turned out to be the
final attack resumed at 2000 hours. The Command
Post was moved from inside the Boys School to the
rear of the Boys School to protect it from incoming
artillery fire. The attacks were coming from both
the south and east.
In the church tower Mortar Officer Lieutenant Elmer
F. Farnham and an unknown assistant had been calling
out coordinates from the Observation Post to the
Mortar Platoon. When Farnham went back into the
tower just before 1900 hours, Lieutenant Reed told
him that the Germans had targeted the tower, and
he’ll be killed. Farnham replies “You gotta go
sometime” and disappeared up the stairs.
Within minutes, the Germans started firing
their 88’s into the village. Farnham and his
assistant were blown from the tower by one of the
first rounds. Private Richard D. Sundberg’s Machine
Gun position was situated on the corner of the
church under the Church Tower. After the dust
cleared, Sundberg sees Farnham lying by his
position. Sundberg said Farnham was just laying
there with no visible wounds.
There is no sign of Farnham’s unnamed assistant.
In an effort to determine the identity of Farnham’s
assistant the author obtained the IDPF for Private
First Class George E. Tillett was also a Third
Battalion Mortar man. Contained in Tillet’s IDPF
were multiple documents attesting to the fact he has
met a violent end. The upper half of Tillet’s body
was buried in the La Cambe Cemetery, and the bottom
half was buried in the Blosville Cemetery. His body
was finally consolidated in 1948 after the army
determined that the contents of the two graves
belonged to the same man.
Speaking with Francis Naughton, it was
mentioned to him that research was being done on the
unidentified man in the Tower with Farnham in
Graignes. Francis Naughton is told of the theory
that Tillet was the second man with Lieutenant
Farnham. Naughton then told of something that he
had not spoken of since July of 1944 when the 507th
had returned to England from Normandy. Naughton
stated that after the return of the Regiment, Pip
Reed heard that Farnham had been cut in half by the
88 that destroyed the church tower, only to discover
later that it wasn’t true.
Farnham’s IDPF doesn’t show any notable injuries,
and there is Sundberg’s account of Farnham landing
by his Machine Gun position. If it wasn’t Farnham
cut in two from the Church Tower, it seemed to have
been the unidentified man, Private First Class
George Tillet who was part of the Battalion’s Mortar
During the next hour, the village was overrun. Some
men remained in their foxholes while the Germans
went right over them into the village. The order
was given, every man for himself, most left in small
groups and melt into the swamps to the north and
west. By 2350, hours the battle for Graignes was
finished, but the killing had not.
Private Frederic D. Boyle Jr. was a
Mortar man in Headquarters Company Third Battalion
507th. He spent his time in Graignes
sharing a foxhole on the Main Line of Resistance
with Frederick E. Weagley from Headquarters Company
First Battalion 501st. Weagley came in
as part of Murn’s stick. He was a Machine Gunner
but was put on the line with Boyle as a Rifleman due
to a shortage of line Company men. Boyle’s story of
his withdrawal from Graignes shows the confusion
during the retreat. “We received the order that it
was every man for himself which is good as we were
low on ammo, so we took off down the hill. A German
stepped out and had me dead to rights. Weagley, who
is right behind me, emptied his gun into the
German’s gut. If it wasn’t for Weagley I wouldn’t
be here now; he saved my life.”
Machine Gunner Private First Class John
J. Hinchliff and his assistant Patrick Sullivan
received the order to withdraw. Hinchliff provided
his account of the last moments in Graignes.
“Walter Zielinski another Machine Gunner, climbed up
onto a roof that was above an alley. When the
Germans started pouring through town, Zielinski
started dropping Grenades down on them and for a
while they didn’t know what was happening.
Zielinski was laughing the whole time. One of the
Germans finally notices Zielinski and shot him off
the roof, killing him.” Hinchliff’s account
continues “I told Sullivan to grab the last box of
ammo, as I grabbed the Machine Gun and tripod and we
went down the hill. When we reached the bottom, I’d
realized that Pat [Sullivan] forgot the ammo; I left
my Machine Gun and Rifle with him and told him to
wait for me while I went to retrieve the ammo. The
reason I didn’t have Pat go get it was due to his
age. He’s was in is 30s”.
Hinchliff’s account continued “I ran up
the hill and picked up the ammo. Just then a German
spotted me and started shooting. I ran zig-zag back
down the hill. When I reached the spot where I left
Pat I realized he was gone. He had left my Rifle at
least, so I grabbed that and started shooting back.
The Germans pursuing me finally gave up the chase.
I disappeared into the night.”
Staff Sergeant George A. Faulkner the
501st Company B Supply Sergeant left
Graignes with 4 other men. They were Private First
Class Alison T. Bliss from the 507th,
George A. Brown from the 81st AAA,
Technician 5th Grade John F. McNally 501st
Company B and an unidentified enlisted man. Leaving
the village they encountered no difficulties. They
hide during the next day, and started moving at
They were discovered by Germans during the night of
12 June. They were hit by grenades and rifle fire
that killed Bliss, McNally and Brown.
Bliss died from a gunshot wound to the head and
suffered grenade fragments to his right leg.
 Brown died from fragments to
his right lung and stomach, McNally was killed by a
gunshot wound to the shoulder.
The unidentified man and Faulkner were both wounded
by grenade fragments and become prisoners.
Private Carlos J. Hurtado was a Wireman
in the Communications Section of Third Battalion 507th.
“I went into the Church during the final attack to
tell [Jesus] Casas a Medic and Captain Sophian that
they should get going as the Germans were
overrunning the town. Sophian said they had to stay
with the wounded. As I came out of the church, I
see the Machine Gun position by the corner of the
church and the cemetery get hit by artillery or
mortar fire. Both men were killed. I then went
over the hill and out of the village”.
Private First Class Wickham was a member
of the S-2 Section of 1st Battalion 501st.
The S-2 Section was to gathered and analyzed
intelligence. Wickham a Scout was sent to guard one
of the paths leading up to the village. Here is his
account, “Murn stationed me at the bottom of the
village guarding a road that led up to Graignes. I
remember asking myself what am I doing here alone?
I’m there about half hour when Murn and 6 men come
down the path. I ask Murn where Tyndall is. Murn’s
reply was that Tyndall was in the Church Tower when
it was destroyed, so he must be dead (Tyndall
survived the war). One of the men was carrying a
Machine Gun but said they should leave it behind.
Murn said no they might need it, so he kept lugging
it. It turned out we didn't need it. We found a
local man that had a boat, and he ferried us across
the canal. The boat had ropes on either end to be
pulled back and forth across the water. The boat
could hold about 8 men at a time. We joined a
larger group at that time”.
Captain Brummitt gave his account of the
last few minutes in the village. “I took part in
several fire-fights while visiting defensive
positions. As the last position is being outflanked,
I ordered the crew members of the remaining light
machine gun to withdraw to a previously designated
fall-back position. During the movement, both
crewmembers are killed. I discard my carbine,
scooped up the Machine Gun (minus the damaged
tripod) and the box of ammunition and leapt over a
stone wall from which two troopers are giving me
covering fire. As I reached their side, both are hit
by small arms fire. I swung the gun around and
steadying it fire a burst in the direction of the
enemy fire. I heard no more from that sector.
There was a lull in the fighting and not having
received any recent communication from Major
Johnston, I moved to another firing position behind
a stone wall near the church. Battalion Sergeant
Major Salewski approached me with information that
Major Johnston gave the order to abandon the
position and attempt to return individually to
friendly lines. He and others in the Command Post
had gone. I walked over to the Command Post and
found the report to be accurate. I did discover,
however, that the Battalion S-1 plus a number of
other troopers were still in firing positions
First Lieutenant Francis Naughton shed some light on
the fate of others during the final attack. “The
Demolitions Sergeant Harry Murray was shot through
the throat while coming out of the church. That was
the last I saw of Harry”. Naughton also tells what
Captain Brummitt related after the battle about the
death of Third Battalion First Sergeant Francis J.
McCormick. Brummitt said that McCormick went back
into the CP to destroy the M209 encryption machine.
McCormick destroyed it with two shots from his .45
sidearm, and was killed a short time later while
making his way from the village.
Private Edward Bochniasz 29th Infantry
Division 175th Infantry Regiment Company
E BAR man was killed by artillery during the final
attack. He was buried in the same isolated grave as
George Tillet from the Mortar Platoon.
Major Charles D. Johnston 507th
Third Battalion’s Executive Officer led a party of
men out of the village. Included in this group were
Corporal George E. Colli, Second Lieutenant Thomas
Ahmad and Technician 5th Grade Richard Reese and
Lieutenant Maxwell. Corporal Colli tried to warn
Johnston during the withdrawal, but Johnston made
another bad decision and disregarded the warning.
Colli gave a statement after the war to the army
about what transpired: “On the night 11 June we
were attacked by a large number of the enemy,
and we were all forced to split up into small
groups. I was with Major Johnston, two other
officers and another enlisted man. Major Johnston
wanted to cross the bridge so he could contact some
friendly forces. The Major that the bridge is being
guarded by S. S. Troopers, but he insisted we cross
the bridge anyway”.
Colli’s account continued “We walked through the
back of some woods and came upon the road leading to
the bridge. So we kept in single file and stayed on
the road. At the curve just before the bridge, some
guards jump out and yelled halt at us. Being
swampland on both sides of the road, we all jumped
in. I see three guards go running down the bank
shooting, about that time one of the officers is
hit, so Major Johnston is trying to have them stop
shooting by offering to surrender. When they hear
him they all turned their guns in his direction and
another officer, Lieutenant Maxwell is shot through
the stomach I believe. Finally, I see them call
Major Johnston up to the bank followed by another
man whom I thought maybe the other enlisted man. I
duck underwater and pulled myself away some distance
before I came up, and that’s all I can tell you”.
Brummitt gave the order to the remaining
troops to withdraw into the swamps. In Brummitt’s
account after the war he stated that he had no
knowledge that the Medical Staff had been left
behind. If he had known, he would have tried to
move the wounded out with the retreating men. It
wouldn’t make much difference, as Captain Sophian
the Battalion Surgeon had decided to remain behind
with the wounded realizing he would become a POW.
The Medical Staff from the 82nd and 101st
remained behind to treat the wounded with Captain
Sophian. The church was filled with men wounded
during the fighting. Being unable to walk properly
Captain Loyal Bogart of 501st Company B
also remained behind.
During the final attack, the following
men were killed; Second Lieutenant Foy E. Baker 502nd
Headquarters Company 1st Battalion,
Private Peter Sass 501st Company B Clerk,
507th Mortar men, Corporal Marvin H.
Allen, Private First Class Lacy H. Reaves and
Private Jesse J. Rushing. Three 507th
Machine Gunners were also killed during the final
attack, Private First Class Shuford N. Humphries,
Private Thomas J. Travers and Private Grady W.
Lloyd. The deaths of two of these gunners are most
likely described by Captain Brummitt while moving
their Machine Gun position by the church and by
Carlos Hurtado, who saw them get hit as he came out
of the church.
Sergeant John Piotrowicz of 501st
Company B received the order to fall back into the
swamps. After conferring with Staff Sergeant George
Faulkner of 501st Company B Piotrowicz
decides to go it alone and gives his account, “I was
wounded at the end of the battle of Graignes, shot
in the shoulder. I jumped over the cemetery wall
without realizing there is a drop off there and fell
10 feet and injured my leg. The Germans found me
laying there and brought me back up to the church
area, and I’m lined up against a wall with two other
men, thinking we are going to be shot. An officer
arrived and said to stop the execution and then
interrogated us during the evening. Early the next
morning I and another Sergeant from the 29th
Infantry Division [Rees] and a third man are marched
out of town and head south. This started my journey
as a POW.”
Major Johnston was taken back to Graignes along with
Lieutenant Maxwell. The author believes that the
account by Corporal Colli had switched the
identities of the Maxwell and Reese. Lieutenant
Maxwell is found dead later in Graignes. Lieutenant
Ahmad and Technical Five Reese’s bodies were found
in October and November respectively later that year
when the canals are being cleaned out.
This gives weight to the fact that they are the two
men who are killed in the water by the bridge during
Dawn found 507th and 501st
men in swamps and hedgerows making their way away
from Graignes. It also found some men still in
their foxholes outside of the village. Private
First Class Ed Costa and Privates Ed Page and James
Klingman were still in their position. Word hadn’t
reached them about the pullout. They noticed
Germans digging in the distance and decide to lay
low until dark. Le Port St. Pierre to the north saw
the arrival of two groups of men, with Captain
Chapman’s men joining Captain Brummitt’s group.
They eventually pull out and headed north with a
group of 89 men.
During the 12th and the 13th
a total of 21 men arrived at the Rigault farm. The
Rigault family had already risked much in helping
the Americans by retrieving bundles and bringing
them food during the 6 days the Americans were in
Graignes. The sisters Odette, Marthe and their
parents risked everything by letting the Americans
stay in the loft over the barn. Finally, a boat is
located to take them along the Taute-Vire Canal.
The boat is piloted by Joseph Folliot. The night of
the 15 June the 21 men traveled by boat via canal
until reaching American lines. Private First Class
Frank Juliano hid out in a large bread oven in the
Graignes area until July 13th when
liberated by friendly forces.
The Germans consolidated their position
and went to the church and pulled out the two
Priests, Father Lebarbanchona and Father
Leblastier. In the public square both are shot in
the back of the head for aiding the enemy. The
Germans discovered both of the housekeepers in the
rectory. The Germans executed those women, as
well. The Germans rounded up the remaining
villagers and threaten them with execution, but they
stood united, and the Germans finally used them to
help retrieve the wounded and the dead.
The morning of 12 June the Mayor Alphonse Voydie
returned to the village. This was his account.
“After the departure of the American soldiers in the
night of 11-12 June, I went to the village on the 12th
in the morning. I removed 5 bodies from the pool
located in Madame Boursier’s farm, three from the
church. Those three bodies were killed by the
Germans. Two other bodies are found in the fields.
I put those bodies in the field, but the Germans did
not permit me to bury them. Then I have to
evacuate. The American troops liberated the
community on July 13. I came back on July 20th.
The bodies of the 10 American paratroopers are
removed between July 13th and the 20th”.
On July 13th, ten Americans are brought
back from the village of Graignes for burial in the
Blosville Cemetery as mentioned above. Mayor Voydie
stated that three of the bodies were in the church,
5 bodies from the pond. He also mentioned the two
bodies found in the fields. Below is a list of the
ten men and the breakdown of their wounds which gave
some clues to where they were when killed.
The brutality of the men of the 38th
Regiment of the 17th SS during the period
immediately following this battle is well
documented. They had already executed 2 priests and
the two women who lived at the rectory. Three men
were killed in the church, and 5 men were executed
at the pond, bayoneted to death. Three of the men
showed evidence of being killed by one of the
artillery direct hits on the Church. One of three
men in the church was Private Robert W. Britton 507th
Demolition Platoon member. He had been in the aid
station since the first day. Lieutenant Earcle
Reed witnessed a wounded Britton being taken into
aid station at the church on 6 June.
Private Britton had been shot in the
right chest on 6 June. Yet when his body was
discovered it showed his left clavicle and a portion
the left scapula missing and a skull fracture. The
507th Battalion S-4 Officer 1st
Lieutenant Elmer Hoffman suffered a crushed skull
and Private Clarence R. Woodall died of a left side
skull fracture of the temporal region. The evidence
indicates that these men were executed with their
heads being crushed.
This left 7 men out of this group of
10. The 507th’s Medical Sergeant Staff
Sergeant Nelson F. Hornbaker is listed on the Wall
of The Missing.
An unknown (X-88 Blosville) is buried with the men
from Graignes when the bodies were brought back and
buried on 13 July. X-88 is buried with the group
of executed wounded prisoners in the Blosville
Cemetery. His height matched with that of Staff
Sergeant Hornbaker the Medical Sergeant for the
Battalion Aid Station. X-88 was buried one grave
away from Bobby Miller another 507th
Medic, as well as George Tillet from the 507th.
Hornbaker like Roberts, Simpson and Nadeau were
buried as unknowns as their paperwork was lost at
This leaves 6 men, and five of these were
killed at the pond, while one was found in the
field. The six men were Sergeant Leonard A. Davis
A/501, Private Robert S. Niles runner from Company I
507, 501st Company B Runner Private
Herbert “Herbie” Weiss, Private First Class Stanley
J. Pytel 507th, 501st Private
First Class Jimmie S. Millican and 507th
Mortar Officer 1st Lieutenant Elmer Farnham who was
assumed to have been killed when blown from the
church tower. Lieutenant Farnham seems the most
likely candidate to have been the other body in the
field. Leaving the other five as the men murdered at
the pond behind Madame Boursier’s Café.
The morning of 12 June started with Sergeant John
Piotrowicz Company B 501, Sergeant Rees 175 Infantry
Regiment Company E and an unidentified man being
marched out of the village to start their trip to a
POW camp. The Germans still had 18 American and one
Australian prisoner, Captains Abraham Sophian Jr.
and Loyal Bogart among them. 19 men were taken to
the German Headquarters at Le Mesnil-Angot. Major
Johnston was taken away separately and never seen
alive again. Johnston’s last moments were told by
his wounds. Standing facing his murderer, he put
his upper left arm and covered his face from the
blast that would kill him. He was shot point blank
in the head and then dumped into the canal. His
body will be recovered outside the village of de la
Varde in a canal by the road to Marchesieux on
November 20, 1946 by Monsieur Binard.
At some point, Captains Bogart and Sophian were
split up from the group of enlisted men. They were
taken to another German Headquarters at Tribehou.
They were both executed and left covered by brush
off the side of the road leading back to Graignes.
There had been speculation that they were killed
because Captain Sophian was Jewish. The bodies of
Bogart and Sophian were not discovered until
February of 1945.
There were varied accounts of how many
Americans were taken away on the morning of the 12th
to Le Mesnil-Angot. The Graignes village school
teacher saw 11 men; another witness puts the number
at 19, and two others set 9 as the number of
prisoners. A fifth account gives 6 as the number of
bodies found executed in a roadside ditch. There
were 16 bodies recovered in the village of la
Metairie just west of Le Mesnil-Angot on July 24,
Mayor Voydie gave a statement to British
authorities that the Germans took some of the
Graignes battle dead to Le Mesnil-Angot for burial.
This statement was given to British authorities as
they were investigating the death of Flight Sergeant
Stanley Black of the RAF after the battle. At some
point, it seemed the citizens of la Metairie buried
the groups of men close by each other, and Flight
Sergeant Black is among them.
There were two burial sites in the area of the
village of la Metairie. The first contained 16
bodies and six show signs of execution. The second
contains Private Edward Bochniasz from the 29th
Infantry Division and the upper half of Private
First Class George Tillet as well as a large number
of body parts. Further research matched these body
parts with the men buried in a mass grave in la
Metairie. This burial site was located close to the
In this instance, the favored German method of
execution was to have the prisoners kneel with both
hands locked behind the head. The Germans then
shoot them from behind and above. Many of the men
were lacking either hands or forearms and have
fractured skulls or missing mandibles (lower jaw
bones) likely because of the angle down of the shots
being fired. Five men show signs of execution in
this group burial. Three men from the 101st,
Sammuel J. Chavous (X-93 Blosville) missing both
hands and his jaw, Leo Packham missing right forearm
and lower jaw, Richard Hoffman missing both forearms
and lower jaw, 82nd men Private Arnold J.
Martinez missing right clavicle and lower jaw,
Benton Broussard missing lower jaw and right leg
below the knee.
Private Arnold J. Martinez was hit in the chest
during the final attack.
His cause of death is listed as a gunshot wounds.
Two separate accounts state that a brassard (Red
Cross armband) is seen on one of the dead men. None
of the Medics show any type of a head wound. All
three of the 101st men were 501st
Machine Gunners, and both Broussard and Martinez
were 507th Mortar Platoon members.
Sergeant Broussard injuries indicated that he was
wounded in Graignes before being taken away to la
Metairie. There are accounts of Walter Choquette
being wounded as well during the battle and being
treated at the aid station.
Sammuel Chavous (X-93) also showed signs of being
wounded. When his body was found, he was wearing
clothing from two other men, one who was buried next
to him, Richard Hoffman. There are other instances
of this happening with wounded men in Graignes. The
most likely cause was that the uniforms would have
been cut away treating a wounded man. The Medical
Staff would solicit extra clothing from the men in
the village to replace the missing clothing. This
Chavous narrative was sent ahead to the DPMO
(Defense Prisoner of War) to start the process of
officially identifying him
but they have refused to even read the
There was an account given by a Medic of
the 507th’s Third Battalion that he ran
into Medic Robert Miller during the day on 12 June.
His account states that Miller was with a group of
captured men that the Germans interrogated and then
started shooting them one by one. Bobby Miller said
that he was the last man to be interrogated. When
it was his turn the Germans put him on his knees,
and made him lock his hands behind his head. The
gun misfired several times, and then an officer
tried and when it misfired again told Miller to go.
The man who gave this account did not make the jump
into Normandy but claimed to have been there. The
veterans who knew him said at the reunions he would
gather stories from other men and put himself in the
account instead. I believe that this account is
valid that Miller did escape even if the person who
relayed the information was not as the account came
from a man who saw Robert Miller the next day
outside of Graignes.
All of the other Medical Staff except Sophian were
buried in the mass grave of 16. The Medic Miller is
found a distance away from Graignes and is recovered
on July 23rd, a day before the group at
For the remaining 10 of the la Metairie
16, some of the men exhibited traumatic battle
wounds. Private George S. Baragona was missing his
left arm, Private Edward J. Pillis a Medic, was
missing both arms. There was no disinterment
directive for Flight Sergeant Black from the RAF.
The seven remaining men had advanced decomposition
and nothing else. This does not mean that they
didn’t, in fact, suffer extensive injuries.
When the bodies were disinterred in 1948 a cursory
examination and description of the body was
conducted and reported. For the 16 men, 15 who had
reports; their inspection was by Second Lieutenant
John H. Clark of the Quartermaster Corps. While he
described some of the wounds to the men, on others
he didn’t mention fractured or missing body parts.
Sergeant Broussard was the best example. He
is missing his lower leg, jawbone and teeth, but no
mention was made, just advanced decomposition on his
disinterment directive. The reports of the
remaining men who only had advanced decomposition
listed by Lieutenant Clark can’t be taken at face
value since Broussard’s report shows clearly that
just listing advanced decomposition on the
Disinterment Directive doesn’t match up with
Broussard’s Check List for Disinterment of Unknowns.
Two of the last ten men were Private
Robert R. Rockwell 507th Runner and
Private George S. Baragona part of the 507th’s
Motor Pool. The US ARMY ETO CASUALTY RECORD(S) that
both men were executed.
The remaining eight men were 507th Medics
Private First Class Joseph A. Stachowiak,
Private Edward J. Pillis, Private Jesus Casas and
Corporal James M. Naff 501st Medic. T/4
Roy M. Callahan 501st Company B
Bogart’s radio operator, Flight Sergeant
Stanley K. Black the RAF Gunner on a British
Lancaster, Corporal Willard J. Lucas, 507th
Machine Gunner, Private William H. Love 501st
First Battalion Headquarters Company Machine
Over the next few days the remainder of
the Graignes defenders made their way back to
American lines. Major Johnston had made two
important decisions that failed. The first mistake
was to remain in Graignes; the second mistake was to
withdrawing by crossing a bridge that had already
fallen into German hands. What had been written to
date said that the decision that Johnston made
prevented the 38th Regiment of the 17th
SS from joining the 37th in their counter
attack on Carentan, but the reality was that the 38th
was to be held in reserve, replacing the 6th
Fallschirmjaeger in protecting the base of the
German defense in Normandy.
There will always been a question as to
how many and why the 17th SS executed men
from the 82nd and 101st
Airborne Division after the battle. Why were some
executed and yet others because POWs. We will never
know for sure what occurred but I’ve formulated a
All of the Medical men were executed the
day after the battle including Captain Sophian. The
only reason for that points towards the fact that
the Americans used the Church for both an Aid
Station and an Observation Post (OP) to spot the
German positions. The mortars inflicted heavy
losses to the 17th SS.
Using the church as both an Aid Station and an OP is
not supposed to happen. That very likely was the
excuse they used to execute those men. The real
reason was more likely because Captain Sophian the
Battalion surgeon was Jewish. The next day the 17th
SS executed two men from the 29th
Infantry Division in the town of
Montmartin-en-Graignes because they thought they
were Jewish. The 17th SS also murdered
at least one more man that day in
Montmartin-en-Graignes just for fun by killing a
wounded 29th Division Infantry man.
At the end it seems the 17th
SS was no different than most SS units during WWII
in that they did not believe in the Geneva
Conventions. It was bad luck that the 507th
and the 501st ran into the 17th
SS at Graignes.
liberation of Saint-Georges-de-Bohon and Graignes
occurred July 10, 1944 when the 83rd
Reconnaissance Squadron Troop from the 83rd
Infantry Division arrived at Saint-Georges-de-Bohon
and the 113th Reconnaissance Squadron
Troop arrived in Graignes.
That was the day that Co B 501st man
Private Juliano was liberated as well.
the next few weeks the bodies were located and
brought back to Blosville Cemetery and Ste.
Mère-Eglise No. 2. The war had left the small towns
of Saint-Georges-de-Bohon and Graignes but Graignes
has never forgotten what happened during the 7 days
parachute regiment was broken down into three
Battalions. Each Battalion contained three line
companies and one Headquarters Company. Line
companies were frontline units that were meant to
function as a single entity. The Battalion
Headquarters Company was configured differently.
Headquarters Company consisted of a Battalion
Headquarters Section, Communications Platoon, Mortar
Platoon, Machine Gun Platoon and a Battalion Aid
Station. A Headquarters Company was not meant to
fight as a unit; it was used to assisting line
companies in combat. The Mortar and Machine Gun
Platoons were broken down into two sections each,
which would be used as needed to support the line
Aid Station had two surgeons and also included
Medics to assist the surgeons, as well as Medics for
each platoon for the line companies. The
Communications Platoon would set up and maintain the
communications between Headquarters and Headquarters
Company and Battalion Headquarters and the line
companies and would also supply radio operators to
the line companies when needed. There was a
Headquarters and Headquarters Company (Regimental)
that also supplied men, in this case men from the
A final area of military terminology
centers on the Army Air Corps. A serial was the
main formation for a paratroop drop.
A serial was broken down in this order:
Elements were comprised of three aircraft flying in
an inverted V. The lead plane flew between and
forward of its two wingmen. One flew on the left or
port side and the other the starboard or right
side. Three Elements made up a flight of nine and
serials consisted of four or five flights of nine
planes each. The word chalk was derived from the
number written by the rear door of the aircraft to
enable the paratroopers to identify the proper
aircraft to board. A group of paratroopers was
referred to as a stick.
You will also see the term IDPF used.
This stands for Individual Deceased Personnel File.
This file is generated for any soldier that dies in
uniform. This contained any and all documents
pertaining to the death of that soldier. Military
time was be used in this story, so 0130 is 1:30 am
and 1500 is 3:00 pm. Military time runs on a 24
hour clock, so after 1200 hours (noon) just subtract
12 to get the time, so 1500 hours becomes 3:00 pm.
The date will also be in Military form 6 June 1944.
The last items mentioned in the footnotes are US
ARMY ETO CASUALTY RECORD(S). US ARMY ETO CASUALTY
RECORD(S) can contain very detailed information for
men killed or wounded. Some of the US ARMY ETO
CASUALTY RECORD(S) came from an EMT which was an
Emergency Medical Tag. The EMTs showed the types of
wounds and surgery done. Examples of an EMT and US
ARMY ETO CASUALTY RECORD(S) are listed at the end of
Special Thanks To The Following People,
Bigley for assisting in editing
Balkoski for assisting in contacting 29th
Infantry Division members
Chester Books and her Daughter Anne Adams for
sharing Chet Brooks’ memoir
Copyright 2007-2021 Brian N. Siddall and EQS Press
 Interview with Robert
Reynolds conducted by Author via phone on
March 31, 2008.
with Matthew Wnorowski conducted by Author
via phone on January 7, 2008.
 Interview with Robert
Wickham conducted by Author via phone on
April 7, 2008.
 Interview with Robert
Harwell conducted by Author via phone on
April 1, 2008.
 Interview with
William Paty conducted by Author via phone
on January 7, 2008.
 R. Reynolds,
 Interview with Harry
Beal conducted by Author via phone on
February 25, 2008
 Interview with Eric
Groce by Author via phone 2008
 Interview with Peter
Shilingia conducted by Author via phone on
April 2, 2008.
 Interview with
Dominick M. Rizzo conducted by Author via
phone on April 1, 2008.
 Interview with Edward
DeFelice conducted by Author via phone on
March 03, 2009.
 Interview with Jean
Crawford by Author via phone March 30, 2008.
 Interview with Jean
Crawford by Author via phone March 31, 2008.
with Frank Juliano by Author via phone
February 6, 2007.
 A. Johnson,
 Interview with
Francis Naughton by Author via phone April
 Interviews with
Joseph Stefaniak by Author via phone
 F. Naughton,
with Paul Meluh, by Author via phone June
 Interview with George
Smudin by Author via phone 2006.
 Interview with John
Pavkov family by Author via phone 2006.
 Interview with John
Piotrowicz, by Author via phone September
 J. Stefaniak
 F. Naughton,
with Mrs. Richard Sundberg, by Author via
 F. Naughton,
 Interview with
Frederic Boyle, by Author via phone August
 Interview with George
Faulkner, by Author via phone September 19,
 Interview with Carlos
Hurtado, by Author via phone November 10,
 R. Wickham,
 F. Naughton,
 J. Piotrowicz,
 F. Juliano, Interview
via his daughter.