Life in England
On 4 September 1943 the 502nd boarded the SS Strathnaver bound for England. Once at sea, the crew of the ship discovered salt water in the ship’s fresh water tanks. The Strathnaver sailed for six days before making port on 11 September in St. Johns, Newfoundland for repairs. The 502nd was in port from 11 to 26 September. During this time in St. Johns the men took part in foot marches, inspections, and physical conditioning. On 26 September, the ship headed back out to sea only to return again after striking rocks in the harbor. On the 27 September she made another attempt to leave but returned to port after taking on 28 inches of water. The troopers remained stranded in St Johns until the arrival of another ship. On 4 October the SS John Ericsson loaded the troopers and equipment of the 502nd and set off for England. On 18 October 1943 the SS John Ericsson finally arrived in Liverpool. The journey took a total of 44 days. Meanwhile the 506th and much of the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment (GIR) had already reached England on another transport ship.
Front: Lt. Wally Swanson, Capt. Richard Davidson, Lt. Samuel Nickels
The 502nd established operations around the Chilton-Foliat and Hungerford areas, living in a combination of Nissen huts, tents, and in the homes of local English residents. Under the command of Captain Richard Davidson, Able Company resumed tough training and rehearsed company and battalion sized parachute drops. This rigorous training regime would not have been possible without the Able Company officers; Lt. Samuel B. Nickels, Jr., the Able Company Executive Officer, Lt. Wally Swanson, Lt. George R. Cody, Lt. Delmar D. Idol, 2nd Lt. Joseph P. Smith, and others.
The Troopers of the deuce participated in a number of full-scale exercises; Exercise Beaver in March, Exercise Tiger in April, and Exercise Eagle in May, which was the rehearsal for the D-Day invasion of Fortress Europe. Each time the men rehearsed capturing key bridges leading inland from the shore and the destruction of mock gun positions. After seemingly unending training in the cold, bleak English countryside, the Deuce moved from their base camps to the marshaling areas of Membury and Greenham Common to await invasion orders and conduct final preparations.