Operation Detroit

This was the US gliderborne landing of elements of Colonel Harry L. Lewis’s 325th Glider Infantry and other units of Major General Matthew B. Ridgway’s 82nd Airborne Division on the western flank of ‘Overlord’ (6 June 1944).

Originally proposed as the gliderborne primary assault by the 82nd Airborne Division, this was in fact implemented before dawn on 6 June as the first reinforcement mission after ‘Boston’ (ii), the division’s main parachute combat assault. The landing zone for ‘Detroit’ was near Ste Mère Eglise, to the west of Utah Beach. The division’s objective was the capture and retention of Ste Mère Eglise and the seizure of the bridges along the Merderet river to provide easy access for Major General Raymond O. Barton’s US 4th Division moving inland from its amphibious arrival on Utah Beach as it advanced toward the port of Cherbourg on the northern side of the Cotentin peninsula.

The operation was launched from Ramsbury in southern England as 52 Waco CG-4A gliders were towed aloft by the Douglas C-47 transports of Colonel Cedric E. Hudgens’s 437th Troop Carrier Group of Brigadier General Paul L. Williams’s IX Troop Carrier Command and released over France to come down on Landing Zone ‘O’ from 04.07. The main units delivered in ‘Detroit’ were the headquarters of the 82nd Airborne Division, Batteries A and B of the 80th Airborne Anti-Aircraft Battalion, the 82nd Airborne Division Artillery and the 82nd Airborne Signal Company.

On 6 and 7 June 188 Airspeed Horsa and 240 CG-4A gliders delivered a total of 3,753 men of the 82nd Airborne Division to Normandy.

The 82nd Airborne Division’s casualties on D-Day were about 1,260 out of 6,600, or about 20%. On 6 June the division’s heavier equipment and ore men were landed by glider in ‘Elmira’, and further reinforcements arrived in ‘Galveston’ and ‘Hackensack’.