‘I’d love to ask him questions’ – paratrooper whose grandfather fought for Nazis

A British paratrooper whose grandfather fought for the Nazis on D-Day has said he would “love to turn back time” and question him.

Captain Maik Biggs was among 250 soldiers from the Army’s 16 Air Assault Brigade who landed on fields near Sannerville in Normandy on Wednesday, which was designated drop zone K on June 6 1944.

His grandfather Obergefreiter Gustav Koster, the equivalent of lance corporal, was stationed in Normandy with the German 915th Grenadier Regiment when the allies invaded.

The unit was held in reserve near Bayeux and moved towards the beaches following the first sightings of the landing fleet.

His grandfather, who also fought on the Eastern Front, later became a prisoner of war before returning to Germany. He died in 1998.

Mr Briggs, who was born and raised near Stadthagen in Germany, told the PA news agency: “My grandfather was a mundane soldier, he had to fight for Germany back then.

“I do think about him often, he survived the war, I vividly remember growing up clearly too young to understand what he went through.”

D-Day 80th anniversary
The parachute jump display was organised by the Royal Air Force and British Army to commemorate the role of the airborne forces during the Normandy Landings (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

He added: “I’d love to turn back time and ask him a few questions.”

Mr Biggs’ father Malcolm met his mother Elke while serving with the British Army in Germany in the 1980s.

He joined the Army in 2001, with his cousin Oberstabsfeldfebel Patrick Reinecke serving in the German airborne forces.

Mr Biggs has organised joint training between the two nations’ paratroopers.

He said Wednesday’s jump was “easy” compared with D-Day because it was sunny.

Mr Biggs went on: “It was an honour and a privilege to replicate the men of 80 years ago who did that for real at night.”

D-Day 80th anniversary
Members of the British, Belgian, Canadian and US military take part in a parachute jump display organised by the Royal Air Force and British Army near Sannerville, France (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

More than 300 troops jumped into the field, including parachutists from Belgium and the US.

British and US soldiers had to go through a makeshift customs after landing.

Crowds went to watch the jump and troops were applauded after landing.

Lance Corporal Addy Carter, the first female soldier to qualify as a paratrooper, also took part.

Ms Carter said: “Seeing people here it’s sunk in a lot more. Obviously we’re clued up on our history, we understand the significance of what it is.

D-Day 80th anniversary
Lance Corporal Addy Carter, the first female to pass the Parachute Regiment’s P Company course, after taking part in the parachute jump (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

“Actually being here near the same beaches they were on hasn’t really quite sunk in yet, but it is amazing, especially having the veterans here.”

She added: “I don’t think they’ve had a female jump into Normandy before, so to be the first I feel really lucky.”

Lieutenant Max Phillips, whose great-great-uncle Major William Tighe-Woods landed on Sword Beach on D-Day, also jumped.

Sergeant Danny Mawson, a keen historian, wore a smock worn by
Colour Sergeant Tommy Alderson, who jumped into Normandy 80 years ago.

No known D-Day veterans from the British Army’s 6th Airborne Division have travelled to Normandy, the Ministry of Defence said.