WORLDWAR2-L ArchivesArchiver > WORLDWAR2 > 2003-09 > 1062839971
From: "Bern & Fay Robins" <>
Subject: [WORLD WAR II] For the Record
Date: Sat, 6 Sep 2003 11:20:18 +0200
With reference to the recent claim that Captain Frank L. Lillyman of the US 101st Airborne Division was the first parachutist to land in France. I note from the link you posted that he was still in the plane at 0015 hrs, he had not actually landed, he was preparing to jump and was in the plane on a "red light" at this time. He still had to wait for the "green light" and then had a decent of around 30 seconds, more if the pilot was taking flack and was higher than he should have been.
I have now obtained the official War Diary for the British 8th Battalion of the Parachute Regiment AAC. It states for 6th June "0020 hrs. Two Recce parties of 8th Para Battalion were dropped on DZ. Slight opposition was met at RV which was quickly overcome and one German killed. One German on a bicycle was taken prisoner."
I have the honour and privilege to know the man who captured the German, he was Serjeant Ted Eaglen MM, a Pathfinder for the 8th Battalion. According to his story, he landed in a peach tree just short of the DZ. Disorientated and shocked at his landing he managed to get untangled from the tree and in the darkness, fell over the shafts of a farm cart. He stopped and listened for a moment wondering if he had given his position away but heard nothing and moved off. As he left the garden/farmyard he turned left and made is way up the road where he met and captured the German.
As the capture of the German is recorded under 0020 hrs this would indicate some discrepancy in the timing if Captain Lillyman was the first Allied Parachutist to land at 0015 hrs. If correct Ted must have landed after 0015 hrs, recovered from his landing and moved, in darkness, over 400 yards and then captured a prisoner in a very short space of time !
Ted makes no claim to being the first parachutist to land, in fact his good friends Tom Billington and Arthur Platt jumped before him, were captured by the Germans, tied up and shot. A plaque by the roadside at Touffreville marks the place of the Murder.
I respectfully suggest the question of "who was the first Parachutist to land in France" must remain open for further clarification.
Bern & Fay Robins