PAGES FROM THE PAST: Landing from the air on an apple tree!


1944: The first aeroplane to land in Normandy with airborne troops was also carrying Swineshead man Lance Cpl W. E. Eaglen, of High Green.

Lance-Cpl Eaglen was among a number of paratroopers dropped for the purpose of clearing out some German machine gun nests.

He said: “As we went over the Channel I could see the ‘Great Armada’ on its way to France, glittering in the moonlight.”

They flew over the landing spot and jumped out the plane.

“The invasion had begun, and of all the space in France, I happened to land in an apple tree,” he said.

“The machine gun nests were dealt with, so they would not bother anyone else.

“We hadn’t been there half-an-hour when two armoured cars came up. Two bombs from a Piat put those out of action and the crews jumped out and fell to small arms fire.”

Lance-Cpl Eaglen joined a patrol entering Troarn to scout out the enemy, but they were soon spotted.

“A fierce fight took place,” he said.

“And the town was lit up with tracer bullets.

“It sounds unbelieveable but there were at least half-a-dozen of our lads who had a bullet go through their smocks without grazing them.”

He said on the morning of June 16, the enermy ‘tried to wipe us out’.

“Shells came over thick and fast from 4.30am,” he said.

“The next I heard was ‘fire!’ and everything we had opened up on them, including hand grenades.”

He added: “They were completely wiped out. For two whole months we stood the line and nothing would budge us.

“We were told to stand fast. It was a pivot for the invasion forces. On August 16 were were ordered to advance.”

He added: “We went 100 miles in nine days, on foot, fighting during daylight, marching at night. We were tired, but not beaten. We were fighting mad and nothing could have stopped us.”