Box 023, folder 50: Colin N. Brebner

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BREBNER, Colin N.

Canadian 1st Can. Parachute 6th Brit. Airborne

Box 23, #50

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Toronto ONTARIO For Cornelius Ryan Book about D-day Medics AB THOUSANDS OF MEN, ON LAND AND SEA AND IN THE AIR, PARTICIPATED IN THE INVASION OF NORMANDY BETWEEN MIDNIGHT JUNE 5, 1944 AND MIDNIGHT JUNE 6, 1944. IF YOU WERE ONE OF THEM, PLEASE ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS. What is your full name? COLIN NICHOL BREBNER What was your unit and division? Medical officer RCAMC. Ist Cdn. Parachute Bn. 6th British Airbourne Div. Where did you arrive in Normandy, and at what time? June 6 ' 1944 about 00 15 hrs. 15 minutes after midnight What was your rank on June 6, 1944? Capt. What was your age on June 6, 1944? 31 - 2nd oldest in Battalion. - CO. 1 yr older Were you married at that time? Yes. What is your wife is name? MARGARET BECK BREBNER Did you have any children at that time ? Yes - 2 boys What do you do now? Medical Practice in Kirkland Lake, Ont. When did you know that you were going to the part of the invasion? Officially about 2 mon. prior to invasion - rumour about 6 mon. prior. What was the trip like during the crossing of the Channel? Do you remember, for example, any conversations you had or how you passed the time? There was little conversation mostly bad jokes (bad from degree of humour - not content), a rather smooth air crossing of Channel with almost full misty moon, most of us had never seen A A fire and on crossing the cross we saw only a bit - the tracers that came up were so lazy coming but zipped past so quickly - Saw one plane go down in flames "I think" - [? fetch ?] off. Mostly tension in the plane, little talk. What were the rumors on board the boat, ship or plane in which you made the crossing? (Some people remember scuttlebut to the effect that the Germans had poured gasoline on the water and planned to set it afire when the troops came in). No rumours, - only worry was flack in Dakotas two self-sealing tanks.

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There was a moment of panic, I think that's the word, when due to all equipment and one man getting stuck at the door, only half the stick (18 men) got out before the red light flashed on. However, the excellent Sgt-Pilot we had made another perfect pass over the DZ. and the rest of us got out (I was 17th in stick). Unfortunately I drifted into a large elm tree backwords and got hung up so. Routine of tearing chute loose, trying to reach branch that could stand my weight, finally made rope of rigging [crossed out] [?cords?] [end crossed out] lines but in attempting to get out of chute made error and found self hanging by arms length from [? the ?] straps - realized I would eventually drop so dropped. Tried to swing into small tree below but missed, landed hard - stood up knowing of broken rt. wrist and found I couldn't walk - fell flat! Instructed batman Adams, to carry equipment to rendezvous and waited till morning. Wondered how others reacted - expecting to be frightened and not sure even now if I was really afraid at any time, conscious of uncertainty and keyed up - waiting for fear that never really came. Morning was picked up by group, whom I saw coming of 6th airbourne field ambulance who were to set up our R.A.P. close by. Scared the pants off them by shouting & they all hit the dirt. They picked up our 3 wounded. and while tending us [crossed out] they [end crossed out] we were bombed by R.A.F. - bomb landed about 50 ft away - all the group hit the ditch - leaving us out - no one hurt. Capt Nielson the RAMC M.O. in charge - "So Sorry But, old boy self preservation you know !" I was given morphine then & slept. I awoke with a German patrol in the process of dropping guns into sacks and lining up everybody to be on the march. The RAMC boys got a lattice & carried me cross country until they found a cannister dropped by our planes containing stretcher (folding) and carried me the balance of the way. Another RAMC surgeon also captured from 6th Airbourne - gave me pentothal & set wrist. Slept then till about 1600 hrs. when we arrived on the outskirts of Troarn when British + Germans were fighting, Germans finally held Troarn and we

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- for Cornelius Ryan 2 - Your name BREBNER. Did you by any chance keep a diary of what happened to you that day? NO Were any of your friends killed or wounded either during the landing or during the day? Yes, Do you remember any conversations you had with them before they became casualties? None. - I was out of action 20 minutes after dropping. Were you wounded? No, Injured & dislocated pelvis + fractured wrist on landing - dropped appx 50 - 60' tree Do you remember what it was like--that is, do you remember whether you felt any pain or were so surprised that you felt nothing? Stunned at first - no severe pain Do you remember seeing or hearing anything that seems funny now, even though it may not have seemed funny at the time? Yes - (1) Bombed by own planes. (2) Rumour - Brigadier of Brigade hit by piece of metal in rear - his batman carried [crossed out] [illegible] [end crossed out] pillow as well as gun for protection (3) One lad on going to jump missed the door & [? went ?] back [? with ?] the tail of plane - never got free & so returned to England (4) One lad stowed away - went AWL to France [? in ?] [crossed out]the[end crossed out] one invasion plane load and did an excellent job. - Do you recall any incident, sad or heroic or simply memorable, which struck you more than anything else? I was captured along with a medical section setting up an LAP. - I had helped train the lads and they refused to leave me and carried me on a lattice work for at least 2 miles. - until they obtained a stretcher.

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were moved with prisoners casualty clearing station staffed by captured British MOs Spent the night amongst the seriously injured - 3 people died about me, but I never felt it possible I was in danger. Perhaps because of my medical knowledge - I don't know. The next morning June 7th, loaded on mattresses on [? gun ?] trucks and transported to Caen. During that day received in clearing station in town - then to Little Sisters (?) of Poor for 1/2 day - then across river on only footbridge left to large hospital on outskirts of Caen - I believe to the south.

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