Location of D-Day photos by Sgt. Jim Christie and Others

Discussion in 'Airborne' started by Cee, Jun 6, 2016.

  1. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Now that June 6th is upon us once again I thought revealing the location of a few of Sgt. Jim Christie's D-Day photos might be of interest to some.

    B 5203, B 5204

    I'll start in the north of LZ N and move south which is probably the opposite of Christie's actual movements. The first two show Commandos by the side of road D514 not far from the farm used by Lord Lovat as a temporary HQ. Horsa CN 73 whose nose touches the road can be seen in both photos.

    B 5203.jpg B 5203-Location.jpg B 5204.jpg B 5204-Location.jpg

    B 5202

    The next photo in the same general area looks north towards the enclosed farm yard surrounded by gliders. Christie stood on a glider to take the photo. The object marked with an X had me baffled for awhile and could actually be a horsa which landed inside the yard and can be seen through the openings in the hedge. I'm not sure what the cause of the dust/smoke might be as all the gliders are in their final positions. If you look carefully there is a ghostly vehicle kicking up dust as it pulls a trailer along the side road or am I seeing things?

    B 5202.jpg B 5202-Location.jpg 1 SS Brigade HQ D-Day.jpg

    B 5205

    This well known photo by Christie further south on D514 was taken at the entrance to a long winding lane leading to a large farm to the west known as the Ferme de L'Ecarde The horsas shown in the aerial may have all arrived on Operation Tonga? Go to the thread here for more info.

    B 5205.jpg B 5205-Location.jpg

    B 5198

    This comparison I'm less sure of with regards to site and photographer's position. The photo shows Hamilcar gliders swooping low over a field from the south on the Operation Mallard fly-in. To the middle right can be seen a building which on first appearance seems insignificant. Though hard to make out it has a double sloped mansard roof with chimneys at either end. I'm reminded of the German HQ captured on D-Day and not soon after became the dressing station of 195 PFA. At that time it looked out onto a field, and running diagonally away to the east is a stone wall that still exists but is now surrounded by a housing estate. The building today, known as the La Maison de Seraphin, has been transformed into a bed and breakfast business.

    B 5198.jpg B 5198-Location.jpg Chateau.jpg La Maison de Searphin.JPG

    There may well be a glider near the hedge which is hard to make out in the aerials. If so it doesn't appear in the photo or is obscured in some way?

    Regards ...
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  2. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    A few Sgt Christie photos taken after June 6th.

    The first is the well known photo of two Airborne men, Lance Corporals A. Burton and L. Barnett, of the Corps of Military Police dug in at the Ranville crossroads. By July 5th the Horsa seen in the background had been moved forward to the road.

    B 5291

    B 5291.jpg B5291 Location-1.jpg B5291 Location-2.jpg

    Two photos from the north end of LZ N, not far from the farm buildings with enclosed yard.

    In photo B5593 shot on June 15th Sgt Jim Christie while standing on a glider points his camera south towards Ranville for a good view of the gliders strewn across the west side of the landing zone. There is no accompanying information for B5594, but I strongly suspect it is by Christie going by the nearby location and the fall of shadows. The photographer could very well be standing on another horsa. In the foreground he captures a few men near some familiar gliders. In the distance can be seen the landscape to the west of the River Orne Valley including LZ W.

    B 5593, B 5594

    B5593.jpg B5593 Location.jpg B5594.jpg B5594 Location.jpg

    Regards ...
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  3. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    The following although not taken by Sgt Christie may be of interest as it is in the same popular north end location as many of the above photos. It comes from a film clip shot by Sgt Ian Grant, AFPU, on June 15th. He is standing on a glider just north of the location of the Commandos who are seen dug in at the roadside in photo B5204. He pans his camera on a 15 second sweep capturing a panoramic view from east to south. By this time a few of the gliders have been moved. Glider 73 with its damaged wing tip and front end is now situated in field close by CN 9.

    Troops In France (1944) - YouTube

    I'll put up the original sized stitched image assembled from British Pathe stills which I expect will be downsized because of its width.

    Troops In France (1944)-Ian Grant-June 15, 44.jpg Troops In France (1944)-Ian Grant-Location.jpg

    The stitch was badly downsized. A larger version can be downloaded from here:

    Dropbox - Troops In France (1944)-Ian Grant-July 15, 1944.jpg

    Correction: The date on the chalk slate immediately preceding the pan is actually June 15th the same date that Sgt. Christie snapped photo B5593 above. Interestingly a figure can seen walking away from the glider he stood on. The figure is partially hidden behind a glider wing as he passes by Horsa CN 3. Of course we will probably never know if the man is actually Sgt Christie or just a curious coincidence.

    Grant-15th June- Troops In France (1944).jpg Figure seen in Sgt Grant's pan.jpg

    Regards ....
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
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  4. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    According to the Pegasus Archive the following well known photo shows Corporal Wagstaff inspecting the damage caused by Horsa CN 72 after it struck a house during the night on Operation Tonga. I couldn't find any information on the photographer, the date or the IWM number.


    I was surprised to discover that the glider Sgt Ian Grant stood on during his pan above is the very same one that collided with the house. So we are once again in the familiar north end territory of LZ N. I spliced together a pan found in the newsreel By Land and Sea - A Royal Marine Patrol in Normandy found at the Commandant Kieffer Facebook site. Since Horsa CN 73 has been moved off the road to stand next to CN 9 the pan shot would have been taken sometime after mid June. It can be downloaded from here:

    Dropbox - CN 72 Location.jpg

    CN 72 Aerial Location.jpg

    Regards ...
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
  5. Nijmegen

    Nijmegen Member

    Excellent contributions! Thanks!
    brithm likes this.
  6. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Major-General R. C. Gale's Horsa

    Paradata has a photo of a horsa sitting nose down in a field close to a building which it claims is the glider that carried Major-General Gale to Normandy.

    CN 70 Paradata-1.jpg CN 70 Paradata-2.jpg

    Gale wrote of his arrival in France:

    "We were flying at about five thousand feet and we soon knew the coast was under us, for we were met by a stream of flak. It was weird to see this roaring up in great golden chains past the windows of the glider, some of it being apparently between us and the tug aircraft... I shall never forget the sound as we rushed down in our final steep dive, then we suddenly flattened out, and soon with a bump, bump, bump, we landed on an extremely rough stubble field. Over the field we sped and then with a bang we hit a low embankment. The forward undercarriage wheel stove up through the floor, the glider spun round on its nose in a small circle and, as one wing hit one of those infernal stakes, we drew up to a standstill. We opened the door. Outside all was quiet... About us now the other gliders were coming in, crashing and screeching as they applied their brakes. It was a glorious moment."

    I can't find any info on photo B5601 at the IWM. The site Battlefield Historian has a few more views of the glider from various angles showing the same two men in each. This horsa became the first of a number that formed a cluster around the farm buildings that were to become the first HQ for the Commandos on June 6. Note, however, chalk number 70 which could be seen prominently displayed on the glider before take off from Harwell Airfield is no longer present.

    CN 70 Aerial Location.jpg Commando Farm LZ N -2.jpg
    bhc007070.jpg bhc007083.jpg bhc007090.jpg CN 70 Harwell Airfield.jpg

    Regards ...
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  7. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    I believe Glider 72 was Major Gerald Lacoste's glider which was piloted by Glider pilots S/Sgt. Alan T. Stear & Sgt. J.E. 'Eric' Wilson A Squadron

    The glider hit a brick building Stear was killed when the glider struck the building and Wilson was injured, this is Wilson's account from the book One Night in June pp.115-116

    The building belonged to the Tanguy family from Georges Bernage's book Red Devils in Normandy page 96 "...glider filling the remains of their bedroom, the dead pilot lolling at the controls and a soldier catapulted out of the side door hanging in agony from a roof beam. A little further away, a luckier glider had slithered into the wall of the property."

    Lacoste was knocked unconcious when he was thrown from the glider when he stood up to open the door thinking they had landed.

    Great work as usual Cee have been looking for an aerial for this glider for sometime, looking in totally the wrong place, brilliant thread and posts.
    Cee likes this.
  8. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    Thanks for adding the accounts of what happened in the crash of Horsa 72. I'm not sure if it's covered in One Night in June but there's more to the story in Operation Tonga by Kevin Shannon and Steve Wright (Amazon) which may be the same book updated, not sure. It's quite interesting and will add here with hopes that Steve doesn't mind:

    The building the glider smashed into is described as a house attached to a cafe and bar which at the time of writing still existed as ‘6 June 44 Estaminet’ near the crossroads in Ranville. I found that confusing and decided to just point out the location from the available evidence. As you know the house I indicated is about a mile north of Ranville on the D514 road.

    Regards ...
    brithm likes this.
  9. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    I think I should rename this thread "Cameramen standing on Gliders" ... :)

    In a film from once again the Commandant Kieffer Facebook site there are a series of scenes shot from atop a glider near the hedge of the same farm yard, as well as a few others taken from ground level nearby

    Scene-1.jpg Scene-2.jpg Scene-3.jpg Scene-4.jpg Scene-5.jpg Scene-6.jpg

    Scene 2 shows the alleged Horsa that carried Major General Gale. A tank can be seen in scene 4 using the hedge to hide behind with crew close by. The glider that came to a stop inside the yard is clearly seen in the background. I think it may have plowed through the south hedge before coming to a swerving collision with the north side border.

    Horsa used for filming.jpg Scene Locations.jpg

    Also a photo (or perhaps still) found on Battlefield Historian which was taken forward of the port wing of the same glider.


    All the shots are static which in my opinion could have been achieved just as well and more economically with a still camera. The name of the cine man and date are unknown at this time. It is probably the work of one of the AFPU men attached to the Commandos

    Regards ...
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  10. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    Good work
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  11. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Royal Marine Armoured Support Group

    DannyM kindly sent a few stills of tanks and informs me that the one by the hedge just above is a Centaur from the Royal Marine Armoured Support Group. The other tank marked Warspite according to Danny shows a "...troop commander's Sherman from the RMASG. One Sherman to every four Centaurs. From memory it is from the same piece of film as the Centaur." And later he added, "The Sherman is from the 5th Independent Battery, RMASG".

    Looking closely at the Warspite photo could Horsa CN 2 be the same one our cine man stood on to shoot his various clips?

    Centaur RMASG.jpg Sherman RMASG.jpg

    Regards ...
    brithm likes this.
  12. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    An Airborne soldier commandeers a horse

    Danny also forwarded a fine book scan of an Airborne soldier in friendly communication with a horse and asked if I knew the whereabouts. Just by coincidence a day or two before I was trying to figure out the location of the same photo.

    Para with Horse-1.jpg

    The photo was taken in the south end of LZ W just west of Benouville. The Benouville water tower can be seen standing in the open field. To the right just above the far glider there appears to be another tall structure which I believe is the water tower located on the grounds of the Benouville Chateau.

    Para with Horse-2.jpg Location Water Towers-1.jpg Location Water Towers-2.jpg Chateau Tower.JPG

    If so this would have been the one Wally Parr took a few shots at using the bridge gun to dislodge snipers. As for the tower in the field Neil Barber in his book relates how a Naval Officer and his wireless operator in the early evening of D-day scambled up it in order to direct fire on the Chateau area to assist the 2nd Royal Warwickshires in their efforts to capture the buiding and grounds. They managed to bring down a few ranging shots but their position proved to be too exposed and they were forced fold up their gear and descend quickly.

    Looking closely at Danny's scan there is blotchy dark area near the nose of the left horsa. It somewhat resembles a soldier on a horse but I could be imagining things?


    Regards ...
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  13. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    The film clip must be from this:

    A70 44-2 Production Date: 13-06-1944 :
    1st Corps attempts to enlarge its hold on the Orne bridgehead.
    I. A 25-pounder gun detachment from 127th Field Regiment Royal Artillery's 301 Battery is seen in action near Colleville-sur-Orne against German positions some 4000 yards away. Infantrymen belonging to the 5th Battalion Cameron Highlanders file across the N 814 Caen-Cabourg road at Bénouville before crossing into the Orne bridgehead to take part in 152nd Brigade's abortive attack on Sainte-Honorine-la-Chardonnerette the next day. Accompanying them are a Universal Carrier from the Battalion's support company and a captured Kübelwagen car; in the background lies a broken down Loyd Carrier.

    II. Airspeed Horsa gliders lie wrecked and deserted on 6th Airlanding Brigade's D-Day landing zone in the verdant countryside around Ranville. Two Royal Marines Armoured Support Group tanks, a Centaur and a Sherman, patrol the area. Firefly and Sherman tanks from the 13/18th Hussars' 'C' Squadron take up defensive positions and patrol the recently captured village of Bréville. Men from the 12th Battalion Parachute Regiment tow a captured 5cm PaK 38 anti-tank gun across country behind their jeep. A Hussars tank commander keeps watch from his Sherman. Corpses of German soldiers from 346th Infantry Division and abandoned equipment (an ambulance, a staff car, a 2cm FlaK 30 gun, two Marder III self-propelled guns) are found in Bréville.

    and they are the same day as the well-known shots of RMSG Centaurs in the B Series B5454-B5459

    Attached Files:

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  14. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    There is a building to the right of the Sherman
    Sherman RMASG.jpg
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  15. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    The A70-041-02 marking on the Facebook film (at 40s) is incorrect. That film number is footage of Port-en-Bessin. It is a clip from A70-41-7.
    A70 41-7 Production Date: 10-06-1944
    Commandos seen in action in the Orne bridgehead.
    I. Scenes in the village of Amfréville; corpses of soldiers and horses with other debris of war from 346th Infantry Division lie scattered in a tree-lined village street. Nearby stands a pre-war roadsign giving directions to locations now in the joint hands of 6th Airborne Division and 1st Special Service Brigade.

    However checking the IWM site shows a search for A70-41-2 gets you a 12 min clip of various films which includes the Facebook footage, oh well!
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  16. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron


    The Commandant Kieffer footage confused me as well and was the reason I didn't say much about it as it looked like a mixed bag. But thanks very much for citing those other IWM sources which I'll try to sort out.

    My evidence that Horsa CN 2 is the glider the cameraman stood on is what you might call flimsy at best. Rather than a building to the right in the background I see a very distinctive treeline but will have to rely on a poorer quality still to show it. Also note there is an anti-glider pole just forward of the glider's wing in both stills below. To the left in the background there is a hint of a glider with a patch of stripe just visible. The horsa to the rear is closer to the farm's hedge and what you see is near where the port wing attaches to the fuselage.

    Horsa Gliders-French.mp4_snapshot_03.46.jpg Scene-2a.jpg Tree Line.JPG Rear Horsa.jpg Location.jpg

    Now that seems like a lot of work for a small matter. The point being if true another Op Mallard glider has been identified.

    Regards ...
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  17. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Here are the locations of two photos taken by Sgt. Jimmy Christie on June 10th, 1944 not far from each other on road D514 in the south west corner of LZ N.

    B 5345

    "'Balaclava', a Sherman tank from Regimental HQ of 13th/18th Royal Hussars shooting up German troops using crashed Horsa gliders as cover during a counter-attack near Ranville, 10 June 1944."

    B 5345-1.jpg

    I'm fairly certain this is the correct location for the photo but determining the position of the tank on the curving road is a bit of guesswork. During the day on June 10th German infantry had crossed the LZ from the Breville gap and infiltrated a series of woods which effectively cut off the 5th Brigade in Ranville from the 3rd in Le Mesnil to the east. 7 Para with the support of the tanks of the 13th/18th Royal Hussars were given the task of clearing out the woods.. The action was successful but not without losses to the 13th/18th Royal Hussars with 11 men killed and 6 tanks knocked out.

    B 5345-2.jpg Location B5345-1.JPG Location B5345-2.jpg

    More details are available in the WDs:


    B 5349

    "Members of 12th Parachute Battalion, 5th Parachute Brigade, 6th Airborne Division, enjoy a cup of tea after fighting their way back to their own lines near Ranville after three days behind enemy lines, 10 June 1944."

    B 5349.jpg

    A wonderful photo! Rather than tea they are about to tuck into some canned goods, no doubt famished after their long ordeal. The biggest clue in the photo is the horsa wing that extends beyond the cockpit to the left. It is actually the backside of a wing as can be seen in how it tapers to a point. The outer wing flap (aileron) is also evident making it the starboard wing of another horsa entirely. Such a configuration of gliders can be found opposite the entrance to La Ferme de L'Ecarde behind a thick hedge on the D514 road.

    Location B5349-1.jpg Location B5349-2.JPG Location B5349-3.JPG

    Regards ...
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  18. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    This is all the B Series I have for that area on that day

    B5343  10th June road from Ranville to Amfreville-tilev.jpg B5343  10th June road from Ranville to Amfveville-tile.jpg
    brithm likes this.
  19. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Thanks MK,

    Like your tank collage above another excellent series of photos! The June 10th photos on the first page are mostly by Christie. I couldn't find attribution for the bren carrier or the photo of Airborne men helping to put out a tank fire. The bren carrier is passing CN 73 with it's nose to road D514. The north end location of the glider can be seen in the photos of the Commandos in post # 1.

    Siince we are on the subject of the wood clearing operation of June 10th I'll repeat and put up 3 photos showing tanks on the LZ, all of which are very likely those of the 13th/18th Royal Hussars. Locations unknown at the moment but the Christie one (B5348) with Horsa CN 39 in the background looks promising. B5294 was taken by Capt. Knight.

    B 5348 -Sgt Christie.jpg B 5294 -Capt Knight .jpg bhc007107 -Unknown.jpg

    Regards ...
    brithm likes this.
  20. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    Carrier is B5343. Burning tank B5347. The Gale alone pic is B5352 so the other 2 are most likely 5350 & 51. From B5343 to B5352 the only 'missing' one is B5356.

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