Cornelius Ryan WWII papers, box 017, folder 10: Robin Olds

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OLDS, Colonel Robin

8th A.F. [crossed out]N 76[end crossed out N.Y Check add.

If wish to interview check with Frances Ward of Reader's Digest for correct address.

Box 17, #10

8th AIR FORCE 434th FIGHTER SQUADRON, 497th Fighter Group

[*Dead*]

FLIGHT OVER "Flew cover missions from dawn to dark. Our beautiful P-38's were painted during the night of the 5th with ghastly black and white stripes. We were sorry not to see the Luftwaffe show up, but you may charge that to youthful exhuberance. The only flak we picked up was fired by thr US Navy.

JOB [*FROM DIARY EXTRACT "Our job consisted of close-in escord of the boats and a tremendous sight it was. As far as the eye could see the Straits of Dover were covered with every conceivable type of vessel. From small landing boats to huge battleships, the Invasion Force lay stretched out under us. I never hope to be priveledge to get a better seat for such a show. Our airplanes covered thousands of square miles...Already we have set up landing strips in the Cherbourg Penin. and the boys in the NINTH af are using them as of noon today....Today our squadron has been doing shuttle runs on the patroling and we have had a constant force of ships over our assigned area...From our position we can see the mother ships discharge troops into the landing barges, and watch the barges crawl in an orderly formation for the smoke-laden shore and then finally disappear in the murk of dust, smoke and explosions. All the while the battleships were pouring in their heavy stuff. We could easily follow the progress of our troops by watching where the big shells from our ships hit. God, I would hate to be a German soldier down there. Not one of his beloved Luftwaffe came up to bother us. It must bexterrible for them to look up into the sky and see thousands and thousands of our planes lazily patrolling back and forth, to see thousands more cover over to lay their eggs, and to feel the blast of the units ground strafing. But the devils asked for it and they are certainly getting what they asked for."

Last edit 25 days ago by heatheralr
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NY 76 APO NY (TRIPOLI) LL good for AF note excerpt fr. diary green/

Cornelius Ryan For Book about D-Day

THE 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 WHERE ONE OF THEM, PLEASE ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS.

What is your full name ? Robin Olds, Colonel USAF 10128A What was your unit and division ? 434th Fighter Squadron, 479th Fighter Group 8th Air Force Where did you arrive in Normandy, and at what time ? flew cover for invasion fleet late afternoon and evening of 5 June- flew cover missions from dawn to dark on 6 June and for many days following P-38s What was your rank on June 6, 1944? 1st Lieutenant What was your age on June 6 , 1944? 21 Were you married at that time ? No What is your wife's name ? Did you have any children at that time ?

What do you do now? Colonel, United States Air Force- Command USAFE weapons center - Teach all USAF tactical forces (fighter & missile) in Europe techniques & procedures for delivery of atomics and conventional ordnance.

When did you know that you were going to be part of the invasion ? From the very beginning. but specifically when we went out one morning and found our beautiful P-38 aircraft had been painted with ghastly black and white stripes overnight. That was about the 5th of June as I recall 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 ? Flew aerial cover. No conversation. Expectancy Weather (our point of view) horrible - low could, poor visibilityNaturally good for armanda. What were the rumors on board the boat , ship or plane in which you made the crossing? ( Some people remember scuttlebutt to the effect that the Germans had poured gasoline on the water and planned to set it afire when the troops came in ). No rumors. We knew "this was it" and were elated. We did expect fierce Luftwaffe resistance and were prepared to protect shipping at all costs. I remember an acute disappointment at the failure of the G.A.F. to show up, but you may charge that to youthful exuberance and the high sense of adventure that we fighter pilots felt.

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- for Cornelius Ryan 2 - Your name Olds

Did you by any chance keep a diary of what happened to you that day? yes- extract attached

Were any of your friends killed or wounded either during the landing or during the day? No Do you remember any conversations you had with them before they became casualties? Were you wounded? No Do you remember what it was like--that is, do you remember whether you felt any pain or were you so surprised that you felt nothing? Do you remember seeing- or bearing anything that seems funny now, even though it did not, of course, seem amusing at the time? In so far as any of us recalled, the only flak we picked up was fired by the U.S.Navy . It was not funny then, and in view of the pains taken to paint our aircraft with black & white stripes, hardly seems funny even today. Do you recall any incident, sad or heroic, or simply memorable, which struck you more than anything else? see diary extract, written the evening of 6 June.

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- for Cornelius Ryan 3 - Your name Olds

In times of great crisis, people generally show either great ingenuity or self-reliance; others do incredibly stupid things. Do you remember any examples of either? See remarks above concerning US Navy

Where were you at midnight on June 5, 1944? In bed at our base in England. Where were you at midnight on June 6, 1944? same place (ho hum)

Do you know of anybody else who landed within those 24 hours(midnight June 5 to midnight June 6)as infantry, glider or airborne troops, or who took part in the air and sea operations, whom we should write to? well yes, but the list would include practically all of the fighter pilots that we in the 8th Air Force at that time.

PLEASE LET US HAVE THIS QUESTIONNAIRE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, SO THAT WE CAN INCLUDE YOUR EXPERIENCES IN THE BOOK. WE HOPE THAT YOU WILL CONTINUE YOUR STORY ON SEPARATE SHEETS IF THE HAVE NOT LEFT SUFFICIENT ROOM. FULL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT WILL BE GIVEN IN A CHAPTER CALLED "WHERE THEY ARE NOW; YOUR NAME AND VOCATION OR OCCUPATION WILL BE LISTED. THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP, Cornelius Ryan Frances Ward Research, The Reader's Digest

Last edit about 1 month ago by LibrarianDiva
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Col. Robin Olds 7272nd Acft. Gun. Gp. APO 231 New York

ARMY - AIR FORCE APR 22 1958 231 POSTAL SERVICE

U.S.POSTAGE 4¢ AIR MAIL

AIR MAIL-POSTAL CARD

Mr. Cornelius J. Ryan c/o Readers Digest 1300 Connecticut Avenue Washington, D C

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