… Enemy plane overhead all day, appears to be photographing.
… got to bed at 5.30 A.M. Planes over all day.
… Bed at 3 A.M. Planes overhead again and Huns becoming restless on our flanks.
Spent morning looking at possible Dropping Zones … but today was fruitless because of the rocky ground and was hampered by enemy air strafing all day.
Today everyone dressed in his Sunday best since it was the French National Day, and what a day. For a long time I had promised to go with the General to Die for the presentation of Resistance Medals to some of the forces there, but I never expected that today was going to be so indelibly imprinted on my mind.
I was up at dawn as usual, in spite of once again being up most of the night for supply dropping at Vassieux, but this time we expected a big daylight drop and were all anxious to see it. I could not go to Vassieux myself because Hervieux had given me so much to send to London last night, but I could see all I needed from my bedroom window.
At about 9.30 A.M. we heard the roar of planes, there they were, eighty-five silver Flying Fortresses laden with supplies for us because we had asked for them, how our hearts warmed to the folk in London office. It was a lovely morning and these huge four-engine planes supported by fighters circled us three times, twelve in line and flying very low, on each circuit. There was a glorious view of different coloured parachutes filling the sky at Vassieux.
The French were excited and thrilled and the Mission felt justly proud of the Authorities back home. To see a mass daylight drop coming to you when you are three hundred miles behind the enemy’s lines, completely encircled by the swine … only becomes more vivid each time you recall it. After the drop Hervieux … told me that Chabeuil the neighbouring ‘drome had also been bombed as requested.
Long-range fighter aircraft accompanied the supply dropping Fortresses, and the aerodrome at Chabeuil was both bombed and strafed. But the Boche fighters were stung into action and they attacked not only the bombers, but ground strafed our defences and personnel collecting the newly dropped supplies. Five German fighters were seen to come down, two from ground fire from our Bren Gunners well positioned on the Col de Rousset. An American fighter made a false [forced?] landing but the Pilot was soon snatched to safety by the Maquis in the Valley.
The full fury of the Hun was unleashed upon us within about an hour after the “drop”, the bombs on Chabeuil had not been enough and every bomber and fighter got to work on us. They bombed and strafed us all day, Vassieux was rased to the ground and La Chapelle [sic] burned for 36 hours. Many civilians at Vassieux and La Chapelle were killed and wounded and much of our transport, waiting to remove the newly arrived containers, was destroyed.
As the fighters and bombers came onto us at St. Martin it was a very difficult job for us to get the civilians to disperse. Instead they stood scared stiff in their hundreds in doorways making lovely targets for the guns of fighters. Civilians were on the verge of panic and it was difficult but necessary that on three occasions John [Capt. J.V. Houseman] and I had to walk to the Poste de Commandment [HQ] under aerial attack to adopt an indifferent air, however, we were all conscious that many eyes were turned on us to see our reaction.
After a lunch I did not enjoy a bit as stuff was coming a bit too close for my liking, but during which we drank to France, England, America and Victory. John and I returned to our HQ to send off reports and requests to London and Algiers. John is being a great help and comfort while André and Croix continue their magnificent efforts under nigh on impossible conditions for operators.
continued on next page …
Major Desmond Longe led the Inter-Allied EUCALYPTUS mission to the Drôme Maquis which was parachuted in at the end of June 1944, establishing itself in Saint-Martin-en-Vercors..
These extracts from Longe's diary attest to the Luftwaffe's role in the week following the Operation CADILLAC supply drop on 14 July 1944 .
Apparently, Longe spoke little or no French and so I have corrected names as well as a small number of other typing mistakes.
I'm not sure who "the General" was: so far as I know, the highest-ranking Frenchmen present were colonels. However, a possible candidate is Col. Marcel Descour, Chief of Staff of the Vercors Maquis.