Corporal Wilf Coates

Hannah also interviewed Wilf about D-Day with the parachutists.   This is what he said to her:

  

  

AN INTERVIEW WITH WILF COATES

What rank were you?

Corporal

 

How old were you on D-day?

17

 

Before jumping what was the atmosphere like?

Tense, had done practice jumps, nervous, quiet, only the Captain giving messages.  Some lads were airsick..  Once joint to the rope it was deadly silent.  The Captain jumped first and I was soon after.  You know the parachute opened because of the plane sup stream and the stitching.

 

On jumping how was it?

It was quiet, not bad conditions, the wind rushed my face.  You let your kit bag fall steadily so it didnít catch in tress or in water.  Once the bag touched the ground you had two metres left.  It was disorientated.

 

How was it on landing?

Dark!  We used clickers, they click when pressed. The Captain flashed his torch twice on the ground, it meant gather round.  From here on Ö. A head count, injury check, helping out of trees, removing parachutes.  After this orders were given.

 

How close to the bridge did you land?

Within 2 or 3 miles.

 

What did you expect on landing?

Didnít know, was surprised by the lack of resistance.

 

Did you know how long you would have to hold the bridges?

No Ė but we had to hold it 36 hours until we were relieved by the Oxford and Buckinghamshire glider maps.

 

Did you know who was coming to relive you?

No, just British Glider Troops.

 

Was the jump itself enjoyable?

Yes!  It was nice conditions, no wind, no fire, quiet stable ground, fairly dark.

 

Was there much fire on taking the bridge?

Not really.  The fire was mainly on the beaches.  The hardest part was crossing with the German artillery, gunners, British or Allied aircraft.

 

Were there any difficulties i.e. caught in trees?

Only 1 or 2 were caught in trees.

 

What did you think when you were told it was being delayed?

Confused.  I had to hold on to nervous excitement, pausing the nervous adrenaline.  You were hungry, nerves stopped you eating, and it was tiring.

 

Did you enjoy your time in the army?

Yes.

 

Would you do D-day again if you  had the chance?

Yes, I certainly would, it was an experience, I would like to relive.

 

How did you feel on securing the bridge?

Brilliant, best feeling ever, now all we had to do was hold it.

 

What was it like seeing reinforcements?

We had just strengthened our ranks and we could rest without fear so it was pretty amazing.