Episode 14

JOHN

June 5, 1944:
The group leader has just announced that we’ll all jump in France and more precisely in Normandy. We all went up into a bus to reach the hangars where our jump equipment is (parachute dorsal, rescue parachute and life jacket).
On the tarmac, at the foot of our affected plane we thoroughly check all our equipment. We were 17 to get into this C-47. I commend a man that does not go to battle to take a letter for my parents and another one for Alice … Someone came to ask me if I would like to subscribe to a life insurance contract but I already did that just before Morocco. Immediately I think about James : it will be his first jump! I know he must be excited, it’s been so long he expected it! I hope his excitement will not make him imprudent: he must stay focused on his goal!

While waiting on the tarmac, we cover ourself in black with a camouflage stick. We laugh and we fight for fun a lot, more than usual … we do not say it but the anxiety goes up …

 

JAMES

June 6, 1944:
We all are on the plane, in the dark. I think we took off one hour ago … Inside it smells very strong: smoke odors mix with gasoline and oil.  Because of the airsickness, some of guys vomit. And the odor of vomit maintain our nauseas … Is it the smell, vibrations of the plane or the anxiety that rises as our eyes meet?
We avoid looking at us: the tension is so palpable that I focus on what is happening outside. The door is open and I can see the sea. The pilot flies low to avoid enemy radars. Then, suddenly, the plane gains altitude, shortly after, we hear D-C-A gunfire (defense against aircraft), I deduce that we get closer to the goal, however, we fly over the earth now.
From the open door, I see a C-47 in trouble: it’s on fire then disappeared from my field of vision …
Suddenly, I hear a loud noise: the pilot yells that a motor is affected and we must immediately jump!
The jump out of the aircraft is so quick that it’s very violent! When I come out I turn for a time that seemed an eternity to me and I did not see if all guys manage to exit of the plane …
I land in a tree with such speed that I thought I would die before landing in Normandy soil!
I manage to go down thanks to my rope. Arriving at the ground, I run to hide behind what I thought is a bush to calm down and assemble my arms. Around me I see shadows, I remain motionless …

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