D-Day veteran returns 70 years on

Bob Noody standing on one of the old Upottery runways along with some members of the South West Airfields Heritage Trust. Bob Noody standing on one of the old Upottery runways along with some members of the South West Airfields Heritage Trust.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014
11:38 AM

An American paratrooper who flew from Upottery airfield as part of the D-Day operations meets with members of the South West Airfields Heritage Trust.

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An American paratrooper, who was one of over 13,000 men who flew from Upottery airfield as part of the D-Day operations, has returned to the area 70 years on.

Bob Noody met members of the South West Airfields Heritage Trust at Smeatharpe last week. The trust has been busy with preparations for its D-Day +70 Country Show.

Mr Noody was one of the soldiers who boarded 81 C47 transport planes with the 439th Troop Carrier Group, just before midnight on June 5, 1944, at Upottery, on what was to prove a very dangerous mission during operation Neptune - the start of the D-Day assault on enemy occupied Normandy.

This involved over 820 C47s dispatched from fifteen different English airfields, transporting over 13,000 American paratroops from the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions and dropping them behind enemy lines.

The aim was to disrupt enemy communications, secure corridors and fight off counter attacks to enable the American seaborne force landing at dawn on the Utah Landing Beach to move swiftly inland.

Bob now in his nineties is one of three paratroopers known to have returned to Upottery in recent years. He was said to be in great form and was on his way to Normandy for the D-Day commemorations last week.

The South West Airfields Heritage Trust will be holding its country show on June 21 and 22, at Cherry Hayes Farm, Smeatharpe, near Honiton.

There will be displays of military vehicles, classic cars, re-enactments, fly-pasts, the Screaming Eagles including some Band of Brothers actors, a children’s fun fair, stalls, and a wartime tribute to British farming with displays of World War Two farm tractors and machinery. Gates open at 10am. Entry is £10 for adults and children under sixteen with an adult go free. A concession of £8 will be charged for pensioners.

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