1st Lt Gene Williams
1st Lt Gene Williams was just 22 years old when, as leader of the Chalk 18 Pathfinders he jumped on June the 6th 1944 into mortal combat.
From Mobile Alabama Gene was married and when he left with the rest of the 82nd airborne for England his wife was pregnant. Dropping at 0.15 on June the 6th Gene and the other pathfinders were amongst the first allied troops to engage the enemy on D Day.
Of the 18 men in Gene’s squad two died on the jump and seven were scattered and failed to make the rendezvous point. This left Gene on that ‘day of days’ with just 8 men to carry out his task of marking Drop zone ‘N’.Although they carried out their task diligently, of the 60 aircraft detailed to home in on drop zone ‘N’ – only 4 did so. Amid the chaos that was the greatest invasion in history 96% of all paratroopers dropped landed in the wrong place.
Gene fought on for two more weeks with his men until June the 20th when – attacking a small village called ‘Pretot’ Gene was killed.
His wife gave birth to two boys on June the 8th 1944 and according to Sgt Lameroux Gene’s topic of conversation when they stopped to have a coffee usually included wondering if his wife had produced the baby yet. In the afternoon of the 20th a radio message came through with the message ‘Tell Williams his wife had twin boys June 8th. Congratulations.’ Gene had been dead 6 hours when the message arrived.
His body was returned to the United States in 1948 but his personal effects came home in early 1945.
Amongst them was a camera with an undeveloped film still inside. These are some of those pictures taken after the drop and before the 20th June.