IWM has acquired two significant objects that tell powerful stories about the American airborne landings in Normandy on D-Day. Read on to discover the stories of two men who parachuted into France on 6 June 1944.
Steel Helmet, M-2: Paratrooper's (NCO), 101st Airborne Division
This M-2 paratrooper’s helmet was worn by 29 year old Sergeant Floyd Jakob ‘Bud’ Corrington of D Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division on D-Day.
Corrington, who had worked as a telephone lineman in Los Angeles before the war, enlisted in the army in September 1942 and arrived in England in December of the following year.
After several months of training for the invasion, on 6 June 1944 Corrington jumped into Normandy from C-47 Dakota 42-100843 at around 1:20 AM.
For those familiar with the series Band of Brothers, Corrington was in the same airborne ‘stick’, or planeload, as Lieutenant Ronald Speirs, who was Corrington’s platoon commander.
Corrington is listed as having been killed in action on D-Day, and while the exact circumstances of his death are not known, his helmet was found near the hamlet of Basse-Addeville, suggesting he was mislanded and killed during the ensuing battle. The yellow paint on the helmet is known as ‘vesicant detector’ paint. When vesicants, or gas, were detected in the air, the paint would turn red and alert those around him.
Corrington, who was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, is buried at the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer.
Pack, Chest, Parachute, Type AN 6513-1A: 82nd Airborne Division
The AN 6513-1A reserve parachute chest pack belonged to Private First Class Oscar Fred Prasse of Mortar Platoon, 1st Battalion Headquarters, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division.
In the early hours of D-Day, Prasse landed near the commune of Picauville, just south of Drop Zone ‘N’, along with his good friend Joe Bressler who had broken his ankle in the landing.
When the commander of the 1st Battalion announced that they could not take injured and wounded with them as they made their way to their objectives, he gave them the option of either surrendering to the Germans or hiding until relief came.
Determined not to leave his friend behind, Prasse opted to carry Bressler on his back so that they could both stay with the 200-strong group of paratroopers, but when a firefight erupted with the Germans, Bressler was left on his own.
Prasse returned for his friend later in the evening and carried him to a nearby farmhouse which had been temporarily vacated by its occupants, the LeGrand family.
For the next five days, the two friends hid in the top floor of the house, with Prasse fending off any Germans that passed by as well as venturing out to find food.
Prasse and Bressler were eventually relieved by a combat patrol from the 90th Infantry Division.
This pack was left in the house, along with a 100 franc note left by Bressler as a thank you to the LeGrand family. Both men fought side-by-side again during Operation Market Garden and then during the Battle of the Bulge, with both surviving the war.