Sacramentan is Pilot of Bomber on Big Assault

D-Day, June 6, 1944

05/15/2014 2:14 PM

06/06/2014 6:00 AM

Originally published in The Sacramento Bee on June 6, 1944

WITH A MARAUDER FORMATION OVER THE INVASION COAST, June 6--(UP)--No Man's Land is 5,000 feet below.

It's something between the gray, channel washed beaches on which Allied troops are swarming from their landing barges and the brown fields beyond. The wink of gun flashes in the half light of dawn in those fields came from Germans fighting the invasion.

My aerial grandstand seat is in a Maurauder [B-26 medium bomber] piloted by First Lieutenant Carl Oliver of Sacramento, Calif., a part of the unending stream of Allied aircraft, ranging from fighters to heavies, which is streaming across the channel to support the infantry assault.

Five thousand feet is one of the lowest altitudes the medium bombers ever have bombed from in this theater, but we chance the German flak to pinpoint our targets.
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Was Oil Salesman Here

First Lieutenant Oliver mentioned in this eyewitness account is the son of Mrs. G.C. Oliver of 2726A U Street.

Oliver was the sales manager for an oil company before joining the air force. His promotion from second to first lieutenant was announced by the 8th Air Force in England last October.

Lieutenant Oliver's given names are Garland Carl but he has been known under the name of Carl all through life.

Oliver piloted Collie Small on a raid over Europe in May. At that time the flak was thick. The Sacramentan, above the roar of the Marauder's engines, yelled to Small:

"Brother, if that didn't make you a Christian you never will be one!"
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As we wheel off the targets and streak back toward the channel, dawn streaks the eastern sky. Peering down I can see our troops scrambling ashore under a canopy of shells hurled over their heads by warships in a harbor that dents the shoreline.

German Guns Flash

In the half light we can see the flashes from German shore batteries all along the coastline and inside the harbor.

We know that it must be a disjointed and disorganized defense, for right in this section, American paratroops floated down earlier to soften up the Germans for the great armada crossing the channel.

By now, as we fly across the white capped channel, we have a bridge of ships from England to France. They range from mighty battle wagons down to tiny, gnat like PT boats and include all manner of transports and landing craft.

Some of the landing craft plow through the swell leaving a thin white wake. Others have arrived off the appointed shore and appear to be just waiting.

Warships Blast Shore

From the cockpit of this Marauder, No Man's Land is an eerie strip of dimly lit coastline and fields which show dull green and brown as the first rays of the sun slant upon them. We can see the puffs of bombs and shells falling in it as the German batteries duel with the long rifles of Allied warships offshore.

We weave through flak that bursts all around us and then go into our bomb run. Hundreds of fragmentation bombs tumble through the bomb bay doors upon the German gun emplacements below. Great columns of smoke and dust spiral up among the formations.

Fires Break Out

Fires burst out on the ground below us in little red clusters. For a few moments they seem to die down and then a flight of Thunderbolts [P-47 fighter-bombers] zooms down and they explode into flame again.

The navy is getting in its licks also. Plumes of smoke arise all over the area below us where ships are hammering the Germans. The big navy shells burst with terrific force, sending out red sheets of flame which subside in billows of mushrooming dirt and smoke.

As we follow the shoreline the acrid odor of cordite drifts up to the cockpit. Spread below us is a panorama of smashed buildings. Then we sight hundreds of white dots--our parachutes--interspersed with our gliders. Allied paratroops have moved in--and on to their jobs.

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