Cornelius Ryan WWII papers, box 017, folder 17: Francis C. Robertson

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O 365 Fighter Group

ROBERTSON, Lt Col Francis

AF Colo 2

Material Returned 6/30/59 see special folder

Box 17, #17

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COLO 2 LL For Cornelius Ryan Book about D-Day

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? LT COL FRANCIS C. ROBERTSON What was your unit and division? HQ 365th FIGHTER GROUP (P-47's) IX TACTICAL AIR COMMAND 9th AIR FORCE Where did you arrive in Normandy, and at what time? OMAHA BEACH, 6 JULY 1944 HOWEVER, OUR GROUP FLEW FIGHTER MISSIONS OVER THE CHANNEL FOR NEARLY 24 HOURS STRAIGHT ON 6 JUN 1944 FROM BEAULIEU, HAMPSHIRE, JUST INSIDE ISLE OF WIGHT.

What was your rank on June 6, 1944? CAPTAIN, USAF What was your age on June 6, 1944? 31 Were you married at that time? NO What is your wife's name? MARGARET C. ROBERTSON Did you have any children at that time? NO What do you do now? DEPUTY DIRECTOR, ACCOUNTING & FINANCE HQ AIR TRAINING COMMAND RANDOLPH ARB, TECAS When did you know that you were going to be part of the invasion? I WAS "BIGOTTED" ABOUT 1 MAR 44, I.E. , FULLY BRIEFED ON TOP SECRET PLAN "OVERLORD" FOR INVASION. 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? \NOT APPLICABLE TO D-DAY , BUT DO HAVE LATER BACKGROUND AS I WAS COMMANER OF 365th FTR GP GROUND ECHELON WHEN WE CROSEED FROM NEAR SOUTHAMPTON ON A FORMER SOUTH AFRICAN MAIL LINER (BRITISH) IN UNEXPECTED COMFORT. 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). NOT APPLICABLE- WE HAD GOOD INTELLIGENCE SUPPORT!

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- for Cornelius Ryan 2 - Your name LT COL F.C.ROBERTSON

Did you by any chance keep a diary of what happened to you that day? NO, BUT HAVE COMPLETE OFFICIAL HISTORIES OF HQ 365th FTR GP, 386th, 387th, + 388th FTR SQUADRONS IN MY FILES 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? NO 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? N/A Do you remember seeing or hearing anything that seems funny now, even though it did not, of course, seem amusing at the time? YES, We had a tremendous explosion of our fighter strip as aircraft were making pre-dawn takeoffs. We in Group HQ hit the ground fast, thinking we were being bombed by Jerry However, it was just a 1,000 pound bomb which had fallen from the wing of one of our aircraft on takeoff, rolled off the runway and exploded harmlessly in the grass. Do you recall any incident, sad or heroic, or simply memorable, which struck you more than anything else? Not on D-Day- Too many outstanding events that day.

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- for Cornelius Ryan 3 - Your name LT COL. F.C. ROBERTSON

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 ?

Where were you at midnight on June 5, 1944? BEAULIEU STATION, HAMPSHIRE Where were you at midnight on June 6, 1944?

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? No- our first pilot bellied in a couple of days after D-Day above Omaha Beach, broke off both wings of his P-47 (Turnip Termite II) on Jerry's ground poles built to wreck gliders + climbed out unscathed + among American troops.

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 WE 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

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Personal:

Were You There on 6 June 1944?

A history of D-Day, Sixth of June, 1944, is being prepared by Cornelius Ryan for publication in the READER'S DIGEST and in book form to mark the fifteenth anniversary of the event in 1959. Army, Airborne, Rangers, Navy, Coast Guard, and Air Force per- sonnel who participated in the operation during the 24 hours be- ginning midnight the Fifth of June, 1944, are asked to write to

Miss Frances Ward READER'S DIGEST 230 Park Ave., New York, N.Y.

Prospective personal interviews of selected individuals will be based upon letters received.

Yes! Was Assistant Adjutant, HQ 365th Fighter Group, located at Beaulieu, Hampshire, England - just inside the Isle of Wight. Have saved copies of the official histories of the 365th Fighter Group (IX TAC), 386th, 387th & 388th Squadrons if you need any info on those very active outfits!

P. O. Box 178 Randolph AFB Texas

FCRobertson Lt Col, USAF Deputy Director, Accounting and Finance HQ, Air Training Command.

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