Amateur radio contact with landing site for paratroopers in Netherlands on Market Garden

I had the pleasure of working  a ham radio station in Holland that has set up a portable station at the site of the 82nd Airborne landing during the invasion of Holland in the Market Garden invasion. I wrote to one of the radio operators, Jan, PB0AEZ, the station call letter for Market Garden was PA70OMG (special call letter, PA means, Netherlands, 70, for the 70th anniversary and OMG for Operation Market Garden.)

Jan posted an email that I sent to them during the operation, you can see it here.

I also sent him a photo of my father on the day before they parachuted into Holland, you can see that here. There is also a photo of my father with Col. Krause, he is the trooper with the radio backpack.

Blanchard_Sept44 BAR015



Ernest R. Blanchard’s Helmet

After 70 years, Blanchard’s WW II helmet showed up in the December 1944 Museum in La Gleize, Belgium. Curator and author Michel de Trez invited me to come and see the helmet. This is what the helmet looks like (photo, courtesy Michel de Trez):


Do you have any information about the 82nd in WW II?

This page is an ongoing work. I’ve been researching my father’s story for some time now and will add more to this blog as time allows. Writing a book of this nature can be an all-consuming effort, so I cannot guarantee I will be faithful to posting as often as I should.

Ernest R. Blanchard was a radio operator with the 82nd Airborne Division, 505th Regiment, Headquarters Company. As such, whenever they had a mission, he was assigned out to various companies for the actual parachute drop. For example, on D-Day, he jumped with the F company, from a C47 transport plane, marked with a “chalk” number #9. The chalk numbers were scribbled on the side of the plane so the troops knew which plane they were assigned to.

On D-Day, Blanchard jumped with what might be considered the most famous stick of men ever, for they jumped directly over the French village of Sainte-Mère-Église. Unfortunately for them, the German defenders were alerted to their arrival and it ended badly for most of the troops. As many as 12 were killed, many before they even hit the ground. Some had their parachutes catch on telephone poles and were shot right in place, before they could take any action. Pvt. John Steele, the most notable trooper, ended up with his parachute catching on the church steeple and he played dead and was later captured, only to escape, even though wounded.

Blanchard ended up in a tree directly across the square from Steele and managed to escape by cutting his parachute lines with his jump knife. He fell 25 feet (8 meters) to the ground, wearing 85 pounds (39 kg) of gear. He managed to land safely and get away, even though he cut off a good portion of his left thumb in the process of getting out of the tree.

I have a list of 15 troops that jumped from the plane that night, I believe there were 16, but that could be an error. Blanchard reported (and related to me over the years) that the man just ahead of him “blew up,” on the way down. He strongly suspected that the man’s Gammon grenades took a hit from the ground fire. Nothing remained of the man to be found. Another man fell into a burning building in the village and he also exploded. Through process of elimination and research I’ve conclude that three men are unaccounted for:

Sgt. Edward White, PFC Penrose Shearer and PFC Alfred Van Holsbeck.

The has been a search going on since the war to find the “Parachute Manifest,” that would help conclude the order the men parachuted in, which might help solve the mystery of which man was where that night. We may never know. In any case, these brave men gave their lives for their country and a free world.

This blog, and the subsequent book are about Ernest R. Blanchard’s adventures. If you know someone that may have information about this unit in WW II, I would love to hear from you.


Dennis R. Blanchard

Sarasota, Florida

Dedicated to Ernest R. Blanchard

Ernest R. Blanchard was a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II. He survived four combat parachute jumps, as well as combat duty in North Africa and the Battle of the Bulge.

This is a blog dedicated to him, and the ongoing work of writing a book about him: Where Dad Dropped In.

He participated in what is perhaps the most famous parachute jump, ever, the planeload of troops that dropped directly into the village of Ste. Mere Eglise, Normandy, France on June 6th, 1944; D-Day.

Here is a list of the men that jumped from the plane that night:

Company F 2nd Platoon Mortar Squad 6 June 1944
1. Lt. Cadish asn 0-1321274  KIA  6 June 1944 (shot on pole)
2. Sgt. John Ray  asn 34005401  DOW 7 June 1944 (shot in square)
3. Sgt. Edward White  asn  38086247  KIA 6 June 1944
4. Corp. Vernon Francisco  asn 12172603  KIA 3 Jan. 1945  The Bulge
5. Pfc. Charles Blankenship  asn 14021124 KIA  6 June 1944 (shot in same tree as Dad)
6. Pfc. Clifford Maughan  asn 31979546  survived WWII (landed in garden, taken prisoner)
7. Pfc. Penrose Shearer  asn  13067200  KIA  6 June 1944
8. Pfc. Alfred Van Holsbeck asn 15098699 KIA 8 June 1944 (Fell into burning house?)
9. Pfc. Ernest Blanchard  asn 31196873  survived WWII
10. Pvt. H.T. Bryant  asn 38476694  KIA 6 June 1944 (shot on pole)
11. Pvt. Phillip Lynch  asn 393121178  KIA 13 Jan. 1945  The Bulge
12. Pvt. Kenneth Russell  asn 34375469  survived WWII  landed on the 
church roof-escaped
13. Pvt. John Steele  asn 16054501 survived WWII landed of roof wounded 
but escaped
14. Pvt. Ladishaw Tlapa  asn 36636766  KIA 6 June 1944 (shot on pole)
15. Pvt Steven Epps  asn 14201815 survived WWII