5 Replies Latest reply on Mar 17, 2021 10:20 AM by DDay Normandy

    Seeking records of 591st (Antrim) Parachute Squadron

    James Fuller Newbie

      I am searching for names of the five Sappers (Royal Engineers) who flew from RAF Harwell on the 5th June (D-Day-1) in Glider Chalk 66.  Were there any survivors? 1st Pilot, S/Sgt Vic Ockwell, and a war correspondent from the Daily Mirror, Ian Fife, were known to have died in the crash, trying to land on LZ 'V'.  Survivors known are: 2nd pilot, Sgt Ron Hellyer, Lt. Robinson, and driver (Jeep) Geoff Fuller. my brother. They were providing support for the 9th Battalion of the 3rd Parachute Brigade engaged in Operation Tonga, in the assault of the Merville Battery whose guns would be trained on the British Beach 'Sword' in Normandy.

        • Re: Seeking records of 591st (Antrim) Parachute Squadron
          Elliot Schneider Ranger



          Here is some information on June 5th 1944


          Royal Engineers Museum:




          591 (Antrim) Parachute Squadron, Royal Engineers

          June 1944

          Commanding Officer: Captain G.F. Davidson Royal Engineers

          03 June 1944
          Place: Harwell
          [Time 1430: 6th Airborne Postal Unit diary: Sappers Thornton, Woodhurst and Harper with Lance Corporal Holmes attached to 591 Parachute Squadron at RAF Harwell Transit Camp.]
          03 June 1944
          [286 Field Park Company diary: Statement by Corporal BW Ponder (2009860): "Briefing given in the afternoon 3 Jun 44 by Major Wood Officer in Command 591 Parachute Squadron to whom we were directly responsible for the first part of the operation. The party I was with consisted of 1 Officer, 1 Lance Serjeant, 2 Corporals and 10 Sappers and Drivers.

          Allotted three main tasks on landing. These were as follows:
          1. Clear landing strips C & D for the second wave of gliders which were landing at 21.00 hrs D-day.
          2. To clear mines if any from roads and verges from the fork road Map reference 108742 through Le Bas de Ranville and Le Mariquet back to the fork road Map Reference 108742.
          3. To establish a water point giving off 20,000 gallons a day, within the area of Le Bas de Ranville and Le Mariquet."

          "Instructions on Landing: These were that the senior man in each glider providing he was not injured, to report to a copse at map reference 113739 where he would find
          Major Wood or the Second in Command, and report glider number of casualties if any, and also make contact with the senior members of the other three gliders, the object being to ensure that all had landed in the same area, and also so that each party would know where the others were in case they needed help to unload. He would also get orders of what to do with his equipment." ]

          05 June 1944
          Place: Fairford.

          Place: Broadwell

          5th June 1944
          9th Parachute Battalion (with No.2 Troop 591 Para)
          Place:Broadwell and Harwell

          Time 2330: Whole Squadron less No.2 Troop and No.10 Section Emplaned at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire in six Stirling aircraft for flights to the Caen-Cherbourg peninsula on Operation NEPTUNE.
          Drop Zone- area of Ranville-Le Hom, west of the bridges over the Caen a Mer Canal and River Orne.

          Time 2315: No.2 Troop's No.7 Section- emplaned in Horsa Glider at RAF Broadwell, Oxfordshire with No.9 Parachute Battalion for glider assault on Battery Position at Merville.

          Nos.5, 6,and 8 sections- emplaned in Dakota aircraft with No.9 Parachute Battalion for a follow up parachute assault on Battery Position at Merville

          Time 0800 - Word received that the operation was definitely on. Morale rose to 100%. In the afternoon compulsory rest was ordered.
          Time 2000 - Glider parties (Administration jeeps & 6 pounder anti-tank guns) left for Harwell Airfield. Recce party consisting of Major Smith, Major Parry, Colour Sergeant Majors Miller and Harold, Sergeants Knight, Easlea, Pinkus and Lukins and Privates Adsett and Mason, left also for Harwell.  
          [1 Officer and 7 other ranks from No.2 Troop 591 Para RE were on gliders - they did not land near enough for the assault]
          Time 2115 - Main body of Battalion left transit camp for Broadwell Airfield, collected parachutes and emplaned at 2245 hrs.
          Time 2310 - Path-finder aircraft took off from Harwell
          Time 2312 - Administrative and Anti-tank gun gliders took off from Harwell.
          Time 2312 - Main body took off from Broadwell.



          591 Parachute Squadron RE | ParaData

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            • Re: Seeking records of 591st (Antrim) Parachute Squadron
              James Fuller Newbie

              Dear Mr Schneider, I wish to thank you so much for your reply to me with the most helpful additional information and link.  Of course, not everything ties up exactly as you thought, nevertheless there are records.

              For me the information about the war correspondent (Daily Mirror) is not correct.  it reports he was taken prisoner.

              However, a report by the Daily Mirror in 2014 (60th Anniversary of D-Day) states when the glider Chalk 66 crashed, he was pinned by the Jeep and died.

              Also, my brother was interviewed before his discharge from the Army in March 1945, when they were seeking missing persons, in which he says after the crash, 'he saw the war correspondent pinned by the Jeep and he died ten minutes later'.   This information was passed to me by one of the authors of 'One Night in June'.  It was a copy of the letter sent to the Army in Liverpool by the man who interviewed my brother, Geoff Fuller, Driver of the Jeep on board Chalk 66.

              I am, very grateful to you.

              Jim Fuller

            • Re: Seeking records of 591st (Antrim) Parachute Squadron
              Elliot Schneider Ranger



              Please take a look at this website below. Here is information pertaining to your brother.





              Chalk No. 66. Glider flown by S/Sgt. V. Ockwell and Sgt. T.R. Hellyer.

              Tug Pilot: S/Ldr. Grice.

              Load: Jeep, trailer and 3 men, ‘F’ Troop.

              Fate: Crashed into pole on landing. 1st Pilot killed, 2nd Pilot, Lieut. J.S. Robinson, Dvr. Fuller and War Correspondent, Mr. Fyffe taken prisoner.



              Elliot Schneider

              • Re: Seeking records of 591st (Antrim) Parachute Squadron
                Jason Atkinson Ranger

                Dear Mr. Fuller,


                Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


                For information about Royal Engineers, Parachute Brigade, and Royal Air Force operations during World War II, we suggest you contact The National Archives of the United Kingdom, the Royal Engineers Museum, the Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces Museum, the Royal Air Force Museum, and the Imperial War Museum


                Also, the United Kingdom’s Army Personnel Centre Historical Disclosures Section has access to British Army personnel records dating back to the 1920s (with the exception of those for the Foot Guards) and can supply information to the next of kin of deceased former soldiers and officers who have served since 1920, and more limited information to other enquirers if fewer than 25 years have passed since the death of the subject.


                We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!

                • Re: Seeking records of 591st (Antrim) Parachute Squadron
                  DDay Normandy Newbie

                  Dear Mister Fuller,


                  I am also doing some research about the glider party in support of 9th Para Bn on D-Day. Do you have any elements regarding the fate of your brother on D-Day? Was he taken POW? Was it any statement regarding the location of the landing? Where Germans around and did they open fire?


                  Many Thanks,