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d day


             Air-Power: Significant or not? A private who was aboard one of the first few gliders to reach Normandy expresses his feeling: I experienced an interesting psychological change in the few minutes before and immediately after take off. As I had climbed aboard and strapped myself into my seat I felt tense, strange and extremely nervous. It was as if I was in a fantasy dream world and thought that at any moment I would wake up from this unreality and find that I was back in the barrack room at Bulford Camp. Whilst we laughed and sang to raise our spirits - and perhaps to show others that we were no scared - personally I knew that I was frightened to death. The very idea of carrying out a night-time airborne landing of such a small force into the midst of the German army seemed to me to be little more than a suicide mission. Yet at the moment that the glider parted company with the ground I experienced an inexplicable change. The feeling of terror vanished and was replaced by exhilaration. I felt literally on top of the world. I remember thinking, 'you've had it chum, its no good worrying anymore - the die has been cast and what is to be, will be, and there is nothing you can do about it.' I sat back and enjoyed my first trip to Europe. Yet another rifleman who was carried to the beach in the LCVP's relates one of his incidents: "I got on the gun. I set the gun up, and we"re looking, we"re looking. He says, See if you can spot him. All of a sudden I spotted him, about 200 yards away, and I"d say maybe 30 or 40 feet higher than me. He wasn't firing at me. He was firing down across. So when he opened up again - the Germans, when they fire, they fire fast, they don't fire like we did, because they change the barrels of their machine guns in seconds. Ours were a pain. We had to take the whole gun apart and screw the barrel off, and then put another barrel on. They would get hot if you fired like the Germans.


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