Moses Joseph Gatewood, Jr. AKA. "MoJo"
Aircraft commander of the "Holy Moses"
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|read 1500 feet as I removed flak suit:, helmet, head
phones. I started to count to three but suddenly realized that I was
awfully low so I pulled my rip cord immediately. Behind me I could see
the other parachutes. Then I saw the ship strike the ground, explode and
burn. Next I began to doubt if my chute had opened because I had felt no
jerk, but a glance above showed a whipping chute slowly opening and I
also observed relative forward motion to the ground which I immediately
hit, and rolled along for at least 100 feet between a row of apple
trees. I disengaged myself from the chute and shroud lines and to my
surprise I was in one piece and all limbs functioned.
I gathered my chute up alone with my Mae West and ran to a nearby road
where a French woman was standing mutely by a bicycle. Racking my
confused brain for French, I managed to utter "Est il possible, pour
vous m'aider", at which she began to cry and wail in French that I was a
poor, poor boy and asked if I was hurt. I sheepishly but worriedly said
"Non" and pleadingly asked "Cacher, cacher?" At this point a farmer came
running down the hill gesticulating with his arms (a good vamoose signal
If I ever saw one) "Les Allemanges". I know what this meant so retreated
to an island of woods in which I hurriedly dumped my parachute before
continuing to run out of the woods. I could hear the Germans coming so I
flopped in a drainage ditch and pulled briars over my body. After at
least fifteen minutes, I lifted my head and saw two Germans entering the
woods and shooting in the underbrush. I felt pretty puny with my 45 so
crawled through some oats to the nearest tree which eras an apple tree
with lots of foliage. The Germans puttered around for the next hour up
and down the wood and finally left in direction of the plane which was
two blocks away and was burning with all ammunition going off. I spent
the night in the wood and most of the next day hoping that the French
would come to help me, but no luck.
For the next two days I wandered through the woods asking different
civilians for help then back-tracking and running after they said no.
This happened about 12 times and I became despondent so began to walk
along a road. A Frenchman stopped me and took me to his home where I ate
my first meal and drank wine. Around midnight we pulled out in a hurry
because the Germans were searching the village. We slipped by several
German road blocks but were not fired upon.
Contact was made with the Maquis who tried to move me toward Draux and
Coen and finally was taken by automobile to Paris which was swarming
with German troops still moving toward Normandy. I remained in Paris for
two weeks and finally consented to take a code system back to England
for the Maquis to tell the Americans how badly the Maquis needed arms
and munitions (No mention of money convinced me the people had a real
honest organization). All of this time I was dealing with, supposedly,
colonels, leaders, and generals in the old French army. The 13th of
July, 1944, I left Paris with two men and a women by car. We proceeded
to Sens, Dijon, Chalons, Lyons, Avignon and Marseille, billeting in
German military hotels at Dijon, Charlons and Marseille. By this time I
know my friends were experienced operators because I had seen Gestapo
passes flashed about every ten miles when the German road block guards
I also had been called upon to carry a suitcase radio set into and out
of hotels and would nervously sit in the hotel room each night as ...