Local Man Learns Details Of Tragic D-Day Crash Of Glider In Normandy

We are honoring the 73rd Anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France on June 6, 1944 with something a little different than normal.  At random, we chose a local veteran to the greater Cincinnati area and visited his resting place.  Pfc. Raymond DeMonge, a 101st Airborne Signal Company man, was tragically killed in action on the evening of June 6th right outside Sainte-Mere-Eglise in Normandy when his glider was hit by German anti-aircraft fire, destroying the wings, which caused the glider to spiral into a crash landing.  This is an article from an edition of the "The Cumberland News" of Cumberland Maryland dated November 6, 1950. The story is titled "Local Man Learns Details Of Tragic D-Day Crash Of Glider In Normandy". In this story we found the name Raymond DeMonge, the 24 year old whose resting place we visited on Memorial Day. Wow! Just wow. We are very excited to be able to tell his story and make sure he is never forgotten.  Over this past week, we couldn't find any information from people who lived in his home town of Fayetteville, Ohio and there was nothing about his death online except for a mention that he was with the 101st A/B Signal Company and was killed on D-Day. Finding this article was an absolute blessing...

"Riding in the second glider echelon as the invasion got underway, the unit left Aldermaston Airport, England about 6:30 p.m. on D-Day June 6, 1944. The plywood glider cut loose from its tow plane just before dusk near Sainte-Mere-Eglise, Normandy.

What happened is still a partial mystery. Neither the pilot nor co-pilot survived, as the glider overshot the airfield and crashed into a grove of trees before smashing upon the hedgerow.

Staff Sgt. Harrison, an assistant radio section chief, was in the tail section of the glider, preparing to detach it for quick unloading, when the glider cut loose.

There was a crash and almost the same instant everything went black, Harrison recalls. When he came to, feeling that something weighing tons was pressing on his head, he heard Pvt. Lester Gunderson, Chicago, Ill., a buddy riding in the center compartment, yelling, "Harrison, where are you?" 

It didn't take long for uninjured comrades to pull the debris, including bicycles with which he had become entangled, from the local man..."

The article then switches to an airborne soldier by the name of Reese.

Reese Recalls Crash

"Reese, who was a technician fifth grade in the 101st A/B Signal Company, was able to fill in a lot of the details.

He said Pfc. Raymond DeMonge of West Virginia (incorrect, he is indeed from Brown County, Ohio), sitting next to him, had a premonition of death, predicting during the channel flight that he would not come out of the landing alive.

Reese said a few moments after the tow plane cut the glider loose, the co-pilot leaned back to yell, "Tighten your belts. We're going to crash."

That quick, Reese related, pieces of the glider wings began to explode and fly by the window and then he felt he was turning over and over and over.

Out only a few seconds, Reese came to wondering if he could get up and found he could, in spite of the fact that his ankle (which was badly broken) hurt badly.

He was worried too he explained, because Pvt. Hart on the far side of the plane, fell back helplessly each time he started to get to his feet. Upon investigating, Reese found Hart couldn't arise because his safety belt was caught in the splintered plywood frame. He said the incident struck him as so funny that he laughed the hardest he had in his life.

Reese recalled seeing the bodies of the pilot and co-pilot, thrown clear of the wreckage and of five members of the outfit, including DeMonge and T/S Robert W. McCullum. Only two men, he added, were able to walk away from the crash."