The Airborne Landings
What happened when Allied Airborne troops landed in
You will be able to ………..
Compare and contrast different sources to assess the most useful for an
enquiry into the airborne landings before dawn on D-Day.
Click on the picture to
watch a clip of the
‘Band of Brothers’
Objectives for D-Day
1. American - Protect
the landings at Utah
beach by capturing St.
Mere Eglise and
bridges over the
2. British - Destroy the
German guns located
near the shore at
Merville so that allied
ships and landing
craft were safe
3. British - Delay any
German attack from
the east by capturing
bridges over the
River Orne near
In the evening of the 5th of June thousands of aircraft each painted with sets of 3 identification
stripes set off for Normandy. Some carried paratroopers, some carried bombs to be dropped on the
coast before the troops landed on the beaches. Some towed gliders full of troops to be released and
silently descend on their targets below.
American Airborne landings
transport At 1.30AM American paratroops landed at
aircraft used the western end of the landing beaches.
It was a bright moonlit night, but thick
cloud cover meant that pilots could not see
drop zones and parachute drops were badly
British Airborne Landings
off target with some falling 25 miles away.
Some were dropped over swamps and
British Airborne troops’ were a) the capture and
destruction of the German coastal gun battery at
Merville, and b) the capture of two bridges over the
The first wave of aircraft alerted the
river Orne and the Caen canal. It was vital they were
Germans and many planes were shot down
captured intact to ensure the road inland was open
before soldiers had jumped. Pilots either
for the advancing Allied Forces.
flew too low or too high to avoid the firing,
At 15 minutes past midnight British troops landed by
which meant that more troops were
gliders close to the two bridges and within a few
dropped far away from their targets.
minutes the bridges were successfully captured from
Although some were dropped onto St.
their German guards.
Mere Eglise the town was occupied by many
At 12.50 4000 British paratroops were dropped over
the Merville gun battery. Although the poor weather
Fortunately the chaotic drop confused the
meant that many were dropped far from the target,
Germans enough to stop them launching an
enough paratroops managed to gather together to
attack on troops landing on Utah beach.
attack and destroy the guns.
A) A diary entry by a French resident of St. Mere
The Parachute drops Eglise
“Alerte! A great number of low flying planes fly over the
Sources town – shaving the roof tops, it is like a thunderous noise,
suddenly, the alarm is given, there is a fire in town. In
the meantime the Germans fire all they can at the planes.
We go into hiding, what is going on? Thousands of
paratroopers are landing everywhere amid gunfire.”
B) US paratrooper interviewed in 1994
“In training the troopers were given a Source C) US paratroops during a parachute
green light to jump…. Not this night…. training exercise
My plane got hit by three shells. The
first struck the left wing taking about
three feet off the tip. The second hit
alongside the door and knocked out the
light panel. The third came up through
the floor. It blew a hole about two
feet across, hit the ceiling, and
exploded, creating a whole four feet
around, killing three men and wounding
four others. Basically the Germans just
about cut that plane in half.
I was screaming ‘Let’s go!’ The
troopers including the wounded dived
head first out of the plane.”
D) Written by BBC journalist in
1954. He landed with the glider E) A German headquarters report written at 5AM on
troops on D-Day. D-Day
“The Supreme Command West are uncertain what counter-
“The soil of France rushes past beneath measures to order as they do not know whether the enemy
us and we touch down with a jolt on a landing up to this time is a dummy landing, a diversionary
ploughed field. It is rough and soft, but manoeuvre or the main landing.”
the glider careers on with grinding
brakes and creaking
timbers………….There is an ominous
sound of splitting wood and rending
fabric and we brace ourselves for the F) Historian Stephen Ambrose writing on the
shock as the glider goes lurching and results of the American parachute landings in
bumping until with a violent swerve it Normandy in 1994.
finally comes to rest scarred but intact, Nowhere had either American airborne division
within a hundred yards of its intended achieved its predawn objectives. Bridges had not
landing place.” been taken or blown; the exits from Utah beach
were not secure. Not a single American company
was at full strength; only a handful were at half
strength. An hour and more after sunrise,
Americans were still trying to find one another.
Level 1 – simple descriptions of different sources
Level 2 – making and developing comparisons
Level 3 - Explaining the reliability of sources by
making comparisons between them and
comparing them to your own knowledge
Level 4 – All of level 3, but also explaining which
source is the most useful for an enquiry into D-
1. Which source is similar to the events in the ‘Band of Brothers’
scene? How are they the same?
2. How different is source C compared to source B about the
American parachute drops over Normandy?
3. How different is source D compared to G about the glider
4. Explain if source A is more reliable than B for describing what
happened before dawn on D-Day
5. Explain if sources A, E or F give the most reliable account of
the achievement of the American airborne landings
6. Explain which source is the most useful (A to G and the film
extract) for an enquiry into the Airborne landings on D-Day