The downing of a Douglas C-47 over Jersey
On the night of the 30th of October 1944, a C47 transportation flight from Villacoublay (close to Paris) to Querqueville, (close to Cherbourg, Normandy) was shot down over Jersey. Due to an electrical fault and poor weather, the aircraft was following a German radio beam directly to the German Occupied island of Jersey and not Querqueville.
Lieutenant Robert R Blackler (photo) was assigned to the US 326th Squadron, 31st Transportation Group, Ninth Air Corps, and his primary mission was to fly cargo from England in support of Allied troops in France. On the night of October 30th 1944, Lieutenant Blacker, piloting his Douglas C.47 #43-48592 was to move allied personnel from Paris to Cherbourg. All onboard this flight were part of the D-day invasion and battle of Normandy and had been in Paris for leave. The naval personnel were heading back to Cherbourg to rejoin their boats and the others were heading back to the UK from Cherbourg.
Including Blacker, there were 11 onboard this C47 flight. Photographer's Mate, First Class Junius J. Stout was a last-minute addition to this flight. He was not registered as a crew member or passenger, but it appears his final destination was to return to England. He took the seat of Officer E Gillespie, it's not clear why he did not fly. Stout was one of the many US Navy Photographers who captured the D-day invasion and subsequent battle for Normandy.
The weather conditions during the flight were poor with overcast visibility of four miles and strong winds. 15 miles from Cherbourg radio operator Joseph E. Fiset transmitted to Querqueville that they had an electrical failure and this is the last transmission received. At approximately 8 pm Jersey locals witness the C47 pass over with its landing lights on. It completed two circles heading north as if looking for somewhere to land. The German flak guns of Trinity opened up on the plane which then immediately fired flares. Lieutenant Blacker believed he was above Querqueville and thought that the flak fire was friendly, being at 300 feet and with the loss of power there was no time to bail out.
The plane crashed on the surface of the sea and none of the personnel on board got hurt. However, in throwing the liferaft overboard, someone forgot to pull the inflate cord and the raft sank immediately. The men put on their life vests and started swimming to the shore. The channel was rough due to the high winds as they swam for the shore the men were picked up by the swell and the surf smashed them into rocks resulting in them drowning. Lieutenant Blacker did not head into shore and instead swam further out to sea. This saved his life and he was rescued by a German patrol boat and became a Prisoner of War.
III./11.GemFlakAbt 364 is one of many German Flak Batteries and most likely was responsible for the downing of the C47. Below is an Aerial from Oct 44, It had 3 x 2cm Flak 38 Guns.
A photo of the crash site at Bouley Bay (Copywrite www.suedalyproductions.com)
Props from the C47 recovered by local divers and on display at the German underground Hospital