Taken from Michaels own account of his involvement in Operation Dragoon.
“……We spent the first four months of 1944 on Sicily, based on three USAAF bases – Gerbini, Ponte-Olivio & Comiso, (where we loved the food, after our British rations, especially at breakfast – “how many eggs? Sunny side up or easy over?” and all the trimmings!- and the PX !), training with the American aircrews to bring them up to pathfinder standard – to home in on our directional beacons and ground landing aids, so as to avoid a repetition of the disastrous Sicily landings. We carried out numerous day & night exercises with them, dropping between one man at times and a section of eight at others to let them get experience of making correct landfalls and identifying the dropping/landing zones which we would mark out.
This training paid off in August when we were able to pick our own crews for our pathfinder drop in the south of France (part of Operation “Dragoon”) who dropped us, despite heavy ground fog, on the correct spot. Our work was also appreciated by the American Air Force, who awarded us the unique right to wear their torch pathfinder batch on the left sleeve of our uniforms.
On Operation “Dragoon” we dropped at 03.34 hrs into the fields & vineyards of the village of Le Mitan near the village of La Motte & town of Le Muy and set up our Eureka beacons and other landing aids in good – 3 -time for the arrival of the Brigade at dawn. Again the leading planes of the three battalions were crewed by our friends from Sicily and two of the three battalions landed right on target on our DZ; the third, unfortunately had its Rebecca receiver malfunction and, not receiving the signal from our Eureka beacon, dropped its battalion some miles away. (They were able to rejoin the Brigade later during the day.) The value and efficiency of the pathfinder unit had been proved to the full. During the rest of the day and subsequently we cleared the ground of obstacles, brought in American gliders and supply drops, created landing strips for light aircraft and so on. We returned to Italy by sea on 29th August, billeted near Rome, and were re-equipped for our next adventure, already in the pipeline…………”
Michael Compton was awarded the Legion d’Honneur by the French on the 6oth Anniversary celebrations of Operation Dragoon at La Motte.