Lt. Col. Robert Wolverton, C/O 3 Btn, 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, checking his gear before boarding the C-47 "Dakota", 8Y-S, "Stoy Hora" of the 440th Troop Carrier Squadron at an airfield in Exeter, England. The evening of the 5th of June 1944. On that evening in June 1944, he gathered his men in an orchard adjacent to what is now Exeter airport, and said:
"Men, I am not a religious man and I don't know your feelings in this matter, but I am going to ask you to pray with me for the success of the mission before us. And while we pray, let us get on our knees and not look down but up with faces raised to the sky so that we can see God and ask his blessing in what we are about to do.
"God almighty, in a few short hours we will be in battle with the enemy. We do not join battle afraid. We do not ask favors or indulgence but ask that, if You will, use us as Your instrument for the right and an aid in returning peace to the world.
"We do not know or seek what our fate will be. We ask only this, that if die we must, that we die as men would die, without complaining, without pleading and safe in the feeling that we have done our best for what we believed was right.
"Oh Lord, protect our loved ones and be near us in the fire ahead and with us now as we pray to you."
Sadly, within hours, the orator himself was dead; a cruel twist of fate meant his feet never touched French soil. Lt Col Robert L Wolverton (aged 30), was killed by ground fire and left suspended by his parachute from an apple tree in an orchard just north of the hamlet of St Côme du Mont in Normandy.
(Nb. of the 15 men in his 'stick', 5 were KIA on D/Day, 8 taken as POWs and 2 unaccounted for)
(Colourised by Johhny Sirlande from Belgium)