Cornelius Ryan WWII papers, box 021, folder 21: Henry Francis Humberstone



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[written in pencil at bottom left of folder] 260 20 ________ 5200 ________

[File lable] British Humberstone. Henry Francis 6th Airborne

[written in pencil uder file lable] Box 21, #21

Last edit about 1 month ago by AngelaLister
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[green word to left of title, illegible] acknowledged 9.6.58 [written in red pencil, top right corner] [red initials illegible] Negative [written in pencil, marked out, underlined twice in red with red ?]


What is your full name?

Henry Francis Humberstone

What is your present address?

34 Mildmay Grove Mildmay Park Islington London: N.1

Telephone number:

What was your unit, division, corps?

224 ^(section 2)^ Parachute Field Ambulance (Royal ^Army^ Medical Corps) 6th Airborne Division

Where did you land and at what time?

In flooded area between River Diues and Diues irrigation canal. 2 miles from Robehomme Troarn map Ref. nearest village Colleville (around midnight

What was your rank and age on June 6, 1944? Private. [check mark added] 20 years 3 months.

Were you married at that time? No

What is your wife* s name?

Did you nave any children at that time?

When did you know that you were going to be part of the invasion?

During two weeks at transit camp at Blakehill Farm. we were told during lecture

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?

Take off was a series of bouncing owing to excessive weight in aircraft. Flying was normal. Nobody spoke for quite some time. We were either smoking or chewing gum. We had [underscored] arranged to sing the "French National Anthem" I never heard as much as a whistle. We were told "cigemrettes out" the red light went on and somebody said "look coloured lights coming up to us" then green for go.

* Were there any rumours aboard ship? (Some people remember hearing that the Germans had poured gasoline on the water and planned to set it afire when the troops came in.)

We had heard that the germans were curious to see how us paratroops were equipped.

Did you by any chance keep a diary of what happened to you that day?

No need to I can still remember almost every minute during that time

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Were any of your friends killed or wounded either during the landing or during the day?

Pte. J. Leach killed had expressed that if he were taken prisoner he would make models of aircraft in balsa wood.

Do you remember any conversations you had with them before they became casualties?

Were you wounded?


How were you wounded?

on sound of approaching low flying aircraft to my left I noticed the absence of the white stripes around fusulage realized at once "enemy aircraft" and at same time wondered if there were any behind me and to my horror saw red short flames emerging from the aircraft gun ports.

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?

to be staring at the enemy Foche-wolfes guns blazing at me made me feel I had been caught surprised and finished with. I saw a million tiny black fragments but to this day dont know what it was I felt extremely hot found myself on the ground looking for somewhere to bury my head. I was afraid -- the plane would return to blast my head off. I began to take stock of how I was wounded but left it to the medics of whom I was with left calf muscle lost from cannon burst bullet in finger shrapnel wounds numorous

Do you remember seeing or hearing anything that seems funny now, even though it may not have seemed amusing at the time? Or anything unexpected or out- of-place?

We were in rest area at the time of straffing. Radio was blaring out "Mister Five By Five". The attending medical man said my leg was like a pepper-pot. My colonel said " good luck Humberstone you will make blighty with that".

Do you recall any incident, sad or heroic, or simply memorable, that struck you more than anything else?

We, that is just a few of us from our aircraft that took evasive action during the drop, had to find our way out of the flooded fields and thought it wise to proceed with care. On arriving at a fast flowing river, we decided to find some means to cross but to our surprise, one of the two Canadians on the opposite bank began to wade across saying that it was quite safe. to our horror we saw him drown before anybody could get anywhere near him, too sudden and deep regret was felt.

Last edit 29 days ago by AngelaLister
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3. In times of great crisis, people generally show either great ingenuity or self-reliance;others do incredibly strange or stupid things. Do you remember any examples of either?

I remember one chap carrying two revolvers and saying how many Jerries he bumped off. and an officer in counter attack against an enemy advance was wielding and thrashing the air with a Japanese sword in his left hand whilst his sub-machine gun was tucked under his right armpit and the strap tight around his shoulder was yelling "come-on you shower" giving a burst of fire forward.

Do you know of anybody else who landed within the 24 hours (midnight 5 June to midnight 6 June) either as infantry, glider or airborne troops, whom we should write to?

I have in my possession every member's name and rank of our "field amb" but afraid no addresses. my own brother in law with whom I went to the first training camp K.R.R.S. Strensall was killed on the beach at Normandy serving with a machine gun battalllion

What do you do now?

Hoffman Pressing in a clorhing factory. I am now married and have a daughter of 11 yrs. we have a small car and I never miss any of the air-shows at Farnborough or Bibben-Hill I love flying more so I would like still to be 'para-chuting'

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*"

Cornelius Ryan Joan O. Isaacs The Reader s Digest

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It was dusk when we left our tronset army and the few personel left there (N.A.A.f 1 etc.) waved us goodbye it was then that I personally began to feel that we the "airborne armada" would split the dead silence of that "waiting for something to start" atmosphere. The C 47s were all parked both sides of the runway with there noses pointed diagonally towards the take off [?string]. I marched on with the rest towards our own DAKOTA and dumped the "parachute" packs and all the gear in one heap and lit a cigarette. It was now beginning to get dark and the officer called us together to tell us that King George sends us his personall wishes of good luck. Then the pilot stepped forward a very short blonde-headed young fellow with rows of ribbons. We were introduced by the officer, and the pilot said a few words, "look chaps, I shan't take any 'evasive action untill you are all off the plane". and with that, we all picked up our packs etc and strapped our para-chute on and clambered aboard the plane. One by one the planes took off and circled for re-groouping at ceiling 3000 we took off after a struggle. I rememner so clearly when the red light came up and we all stood waiting for the green that gurgling in your stomach seems so loud, I was number 17 on the stitch and could not see much untill I got to the door, slap on the back from the R.A.F. corporal by the door the blast of air that hit me was Hot and it smelt of cordite gunpowder, the flak was bursting all round, I looked around me for the others but could only see our one aircraft dissapearing fast I looked down and saw the flooded fields and landed with a loud splash D.Day is HERE.

Last edit 29 days ago by AngelaLister
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