travers thomas
AGE24 yo
JOB before ENLISTEMENTElevator operatorsNY
DATE of ENLISTEMENT14 may 1942 New York City NEW YORK
COMPANYCompany Headquarters
BATTALION3rd Bataillon
REGIMENT507thParachute Infantry Regiment
DIVISION82nd Airborne Division
DATE OF DEATH11 june 1944travers thomas tombe

Transport par C-47 42-24173 du 53rd TCS du 61st TCG

troopcarriercommand badge

Piloté par le 1st Lt Gentner Donald

Il est en position 51 du serial 25.

serie25 507PIR 82AD


Thomas est en 13ème position du stick. 


Plan du Normandy American Cemetery

Purple HeartPhoto FDLM
Paratrooper Certificatebrevet paratroopers
us army div 82 507pir 507pir patch

Thomas works as an operator on elevator systems, joining the US Army in 1942 and then the National Guard for a few months before joining the airborne troops in 1943 and the 507th P.I.R.

Thomas Company
travers thomas company


He joined Fort Benning where he trained and passed his wings at the end of his training paratrooper.

Fort benning


He joined Nebraska where he made tactical jumps.

Until early September, maneuvers and presentations punctuate the activity. In the month of September, the regiment goes off to Stockdale Lake to rest.

At the end of October the regiment arrives at Camp Shanks in the state of New York.

camps shanks
uss Strathnaver

On December 3rd the regiment leaves the camp; December 5th is boarding the SS Strathnaver that takes him to the European continent, England.

After 11 days of crossing the 507th arrives in Liverpool, from there he takes a train to Scotland and a libertyship to Ireland.


On January 14, 1944, the 507th P.I.R. is attached to the 82nd Airborne Division. On March 11, 1944 the regiment leaves Ireland for Nottingham in England where maneuvers, jumps of nights and jump of mass are planned. At the end of May, it was the move to Barkston Heath Airfield for the 3rd Battalion.

Aérodrome Barkston Heath

Aérodrome Barkston Heath
After a first postponement of 24 hours, the big night finally arrived on June 5th. The C-47s carrying the 3rd battalion of the 507th leave the tarmac shortly before midnight. Thomas makes the crossing aboard the 53rd TCS C-47 42-24173 of the 61st TCG driven by the 1st Lt Gentner Donald, he is in position 51 of the serial 25. Thomas is in 13th position of the stick. But that night will reserve 10 sticks of 507th P.I.R. an unexpected destiny.

The fog and the DCA will disperse the formations, aboard the C-47 disorder reigns, the sticks heckled by the shots try to get back in order and have only a wait that the green light comes on, the 10 C-47 of the 53rd TCG remained in training despite the incidents. But the pilots will believe to arrive on the zone thinking to see the river Merderet. The signal ignited and the men jumped into the void; they did not suspect at that moment that they were more than twenty kilometers from their jump zone, it was not the Merderet that the pilots thought they had seen but the river La Taute in the swamps of Graignes.

Drop zone sticks 507 perdus

Many of them fell into these flooded areas with water from the waist up to their shoulders, which made it difficult to take off their parachute, some drowning in even deeper places.

The survivors of the marshes saw on the horizon in that moonlit night the cross of a church on a hill and which was to serve as a point. They walked to this place.

graignes vue eglise
 graignes eglise The first paratroopers who come to the village can see where they are and how far they are from the initial combat zone. But the crucial question of these early hours is whether to join the friendly lines or stay here and bring the German forces to relieve the forces brought by sea? At this question Major Johnson decided and decided to stay.

Paratroopers will start to install security perimeters around the village, while containers are recovered in the marshes with the help of villagers. About twenty paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division also join the village. The day of the 6th of June ended thus.

June 7 began with a meeting of the inhabitants of the commune around the mayor and who decided to help the paratroopers, to bring them food, to recover weapons and containers in the marshes and even to set up a "mess" in the cafe of the town.On the 8th of June the first contact with the enemy took place, and on that day an observation post was installed in the belfry.

graignes eglise memorial

On June 9, attempts are made by the Germans to know the capabilities of this American force. After having confirmed that an armored division was certainly near, the bridge leading to the village was destroyed by Lieutenant Naughton and some men.

graignes Pont détruit colonel Naughton


On the 10th of June, Graignes was cut off from everything; patrols repelled the enemy who was now certain of the presence of an American unit.

On June 11, when several paratroopers had been authorized to attend Sunday Mass, it was interrupted by the entrance of a resident who shouted that the Germans were coming; the battle was on the horizon. The Germans attempted a first breakthrough from the south but the paratroopers thwarted the attack and suffered heavy casualties, the first wounded were evacuated to the church. German reinforcements were also seen in the early afternoon in the south.

The German force is now important, and the artillery begins to pounded the village. The school then the church are affected. Hell breaks loose on Graignes, houses are destroyed as well, the paratroopers resist despite the difficulty of holding positions and having to move back towards the center of the village.

The inhabitants of the village despite the danger continue to help the paras. Despite all the extraordinary courage of resistance, it becomes untenable.

The Germans return to the village; paratroopers evacuate in small groups to regroup in marshes.

Thomas will lose his life during this terrible day of June 11, 1944, this day among the six days of a historic siege against the German assault of SS units, a tragedy that would be played in this village and a resistance from the part of the paratroopers who will call this place "Norman Alamo fort", a courage out of the ordinary that will lead them to the ultimate sacrifice and will delay and change the German plans for the advance on Carentan.

Stele in memory of June 11, 1944

"le fort Alamo normand"

graignes stele

PROGRAMMERFrédéric & Renaud
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