90-Year-Old WWII Normandy Veteran Parachuting with The Red Devils

Paratroopers jump onto the Iron Mike drop zone, June 8, 2014, outside St. Mere Eglise, France. More than 600 U.S., German, Dutch and French service members jumped to honor the paratroopers that jumped into Normandy on D-Day.

Over 70 years ago, Fred Glover’s glider was hit by anti-aircraft fire over the Merville Battery in northwest France. The British Airborne Division pilot fell thousands of feet, landing with injuries to both legs. A German patrol captured him and later offered him a pardon and admission to a hospital in Paris to recover from his injuries. The French Resistance helped him escape.

This year, at the age of 90, Glover repeated the fall, this time with a parachute. Joining him was his friend, Edward “Ted” Pieri, who is also 90. Pieri joined the 1st Airborne Division in 1943.

The jump was to raise money for the London Taxi Benevolent Association for War Disabled.

Five days later, they jumped again. This time, the jump was at the Old Sarum Airfield in Salisbury.

Before the jump, Glover said, “I’m not at all nervous and looking forward to the jump.”

The duo jumped with the Red Devils, the official parachute display team of The Parachute Regiment and the British Army.

Glover has been back to Normandy and the Merville Battery many times since the war. Still, properly landing there was an opportunity to get some closure.

Glover was in the 9th Parachute Battalion’s “A Company” in the British 6th Airborne Division in June of 1944. He was given the mission of helping to capture the gun battery at Merville. Success would help the Allies prepare for D-Day by securing the eastern sector of the five beaches as well as capturing the two bridges over the Orne River and Caen Canal.

Only 75 men survived the attempt, out of 600 deployed. The Germans retained control of the battery for two more months.

Glover and Pieri both intend to jump in Normandy again on the anniversary next year.

“I’ve been returning to visit the area since the 50th anniversary of D-Day in 1994,” Glover explained. “I have lots of friends in Normandy, they’re a good crowd who will turn up to give their support. I’ve been going for so many years now that some of the toddlers I’ve met are now grown up with families of their own!”

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE