Muir Adair – from “Canadians on Radar: RCAF 1940-1945”
Taken from “Canadians on Radar: Royal Canadian Air Force 1940-1945” edited by Robert F Linden and others.
Technical Non-Commissioned Officer Flight Sergeant Fulton Muir Adair (RCAF), Croix de Guerre, has provided the following account of problems encountered on Omaha Beach in an attempt to land No. 15082 GCI radar convoy on D-Day:
During some pretty concentrated activities early in 1943, the personnel of the Ground Controlled Interception Unit (GCIU) 15082 were subjected to continuous and rigorous training in wet landing procedures, combat exercises and anything else that assorted Admirals, Generals and Air Marshals could concoct. I personally took courses in waterproofing vehicles, leading truck convoys, riding motorcycles, and sailing small vessels. Even had five hours dual on an army Auster aircraft…
The first echelon of No. 21 Base Defence Sector Control had made an attempt to land at 11.30 in the morning, but was met with machine-gun fire and withdrew until 17.00 in the afternoon.
I took the first echelon off a LCT; drowned all vehicles within yards; swam ashore with all gear, including a strange combination of gas mask and flotation device issued by the Americans, and after wading ashore in the midst of assorted US Rangers and engineers, managed to get some shelter from the .88’s in the lee of an embankment at the edge of the exposed shingle beach.
I was unable to find any evidence of my echelon and for the rest of the day, that night, and most of D+1, I, together with equally bewildered American Rangers and other strays, took on assorted snipers, gun crews and trench-protected troops. My personal rag-tag company had sort of hunkered around me as I was the only one in the immediate area with stripes and metal crowns shining out for all to see.
One of my problems was the direct result of some obscure officer of field rank, at an equally obscure HQ somewhere in never-never land, who had issued an order that we were to go ashore in Air Force blues. In Combined Ops we wore khaki but in a holding camp, just before D-Day, we were ordered to exchange our uniforms for blues. Believe me, when those blues suffered the indignities of swimming in the English Channel, crawling over a mine-infested beach, diving into water-filled depressions with every shell burst and rolling around in other undignified positions, it (they) very shortly took on the appearance of German gray, particularly in the eyes of American Rangers who had never previously seen an Air Force type. I finally found a discarded jacket somewhere that disguised the blues sufficiently to ensure a degree of safety from friendly carbines. I was not the only one. I vaguely recall some difficulties suffered by our TO, a Polish chap called Effinberger, I think, whose English left a lot to be desired and who had been with us but a short time, when he ended up temporarily in an American compound.
I believe it was late afternoon on D+1 when our small company of lost souls, by this time attached to a larger group attempting to clear a small orchard, stumbled upon the second echelon of GCIU 15082 who had come ashore after us. They had had a reasonably successful landing with some serviceable equipment. A couple of days later we located replacement vehicles parked on a secondary road that led to Carentan. How did we know they were ours? GI5082 had been scrawled on to the side of each vehicle with white chalk. How did they get there? Nobody knew.
What are my major recollections of D-Day? There are probably two that have stayed with me all these years. The first was coming upon the body of one of my young radar operators with the left arm totally missing. The second, almost in slow motion, was a U.S. coloured engineer attempting to clear a draw with a bulldozer of some kind, taking a hit, rolling off his seat to the ground and being immediately replaced by another coloured soldier. The bulldozer never stopped.
Only eight of 15082’s vehicles remained serviceable. A number were subsequently salvaged and the remainder replaced. After further tribulation and much exertion, this unit became operational in the small hamlet of Les Moulins on D-Day +4.
Fulton Muir Adair, Croix de Guerre, Langley, BC V3A 8HI