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Horace Barrett « North Carolina's WWII ExperienceNorth Carolina's WWII Experience

Horace Barrett

Hometown: Holden Beach, NC
Branch of Service
: Army, Paratrooper
Location of Service
: Europe

Corporal Evans and I knew immediately that we had missed our drop zone. It was an extremely dark night; therefore, we could not see any recognizable landmark. In training, we were taught that German machine guns sound like tearing a bed sheet. This indicated that their machine guns were capable of firing much faster than our 30-caliber air-cooled guns. The Germans, in addition to using machine guns, opened up with other small-arms fire. It was easy for Corporal Evans and I to evade the Germans in the dark amid the mass confusion experienced by both sides. However, in the airborne assault, the front line is 360 degrees around you.

By this time, day was breaking, and we worked our way to higher ground, which later would become a major battleground: Hill 30. As we approached the high ground, we could see silhouettes of soldiers. We were trained never to walk on the crest of high ground; nevertheless, the troops before us were doing just that. As we got closer, we saw that they were paratroopers. I don’t recall which outfit they were from, but they were not from our company or even our regiment. The group consisted of less than ten men. Someone said that one member of the troop was a C-47 pilot, who was shot down while transporting paratroopers the night before. Could he have been the pilot of my plane? Since the C-47 from which we jumped was so badly damaged by the anti-aircraft fire, I often wonder whether or not that C-47 and the 8th Air Force crew made it back to England safely.

From our vantage point on Hill 30, we could see parachutes floating in the Saint Merderet River and the surrounding area, which had been flooded by the Germans to stave off an airborne invasion. When the wind blew, a parachute canopy would inflate enough to drag a drowned paratrooper to the surface of the water only to deflate, and the dead soldiers, dressed in combat gear, would once again sink. The canopies floating throughout the water looked like giant water lilies.

Horace Barrett was a Paratrooper who participated in D-Day, Operation Market Garden, The Battle of the Bulge and the occupation of Germany.